One of my favourite things to talk about is growth hacker marketing. If you haven’t heard of it, it is, in essence, ditching traditional mass marketing and focusing on innovative (and ingenious) methods to market at only the people who will buy from you.
Ryan Holiday is a media strategist for some pretty BIG names and I recently read his book Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing and Advertising. When I say read, I mean ‘couldn’t put it down and consumed within 48 hours’.
Holiday defines growth hacker marketing in a recent Forbes interview as:
Growth hackers were the secret weapons behind the launches of some of the biggest or hottest companies on the planet. Facebook, Twitter, Uber, Square, Airbnb, Dropbox. These brands came out of nowhere and acquired, collectively, billions of users. Growth hacking was the scientific and scalable marketing approach behind it. I wrote the book because when you lay it out like that, it’s a pretty stunning wakeup call for people who consider themselves “traditional” marketers. It keeps you up at night if the biggest and fastest growing companies in the world were built by specifically ignoring the best practices of your industry.
After reading the book I was hooked. Hooked on the notion of changing how I marketed my own business as well as my clients. This was exactly what I was flirting with offering similar services yet I hadn’t coined it as growth hacker marketing.
Fast forward two days after finishing the book (and my new obsession with growth hacking) I was listening to audio stories in my car with my son. The well-known story of Puss in Boots came on.
Now, Puss in Boots manages to make his owner a VERY rich man. He could have done this by telling his master to sell something, start a market stall or the like but instead Puss thinks of VERY clever ways to get his master in front of the right people.
Puss’s master was a miller’s son and when his father passed away he was given the cat. His brothers got land and property but the younger son got a cat. He was sad until the cat started talking to him promising to make him a very rich man.
The miller’s son, upon request from the cat, uses his all the money he has left on buying a pair of boots and a hat for his newly acquired pet.
There are many variations of this fairy tale but the next few encounters are truly remarkable. Puss in Boots knows who he will market his new master to and he just knows that instead of multiple ways to get money, he will get his master in front of the one person who can truly make his master a rich and successful man – the King.
Puss in Boots catches the King’s favourite, and hard to find, food of partridges (or rabbits in some versions). He then takes a bag of partridges to the King and says it is a gift from his master who knew the King enjoyed partridge pie. The ecstatic King sends Puss in Boots home with a sum of money for the miller’s son.
Next, Puss discovers the King will be taking a certain route on his outing so tells his master to get undressed and go swim in the nearby river to the route. Puss comes running over to the King’s carriage saying his master’s clothes have been stolen and the King orders the finest clothes to be fetched from the palace for the cats master. The Princess, who was travelling with the King, then falls in love with the miller’s son.
Are you starting to fall in love with this growth hacking cat too? Strategic placing of his master in exactly the right place in front of his exact audience.
The miller’s son is then invited into the King’s coach. Puss in Boots then runs ahead and advises (with a friendly threat) a field of countrymen to say to the King that the lands belong to his master. The King was impressed by the lands and asked to see his castle,
The cat then makes the original owner of the lands disappear and gets the castle ready for their royal guests. (Just so we’re clear, I’m all for business growth but do not recommend you completely destroy your competitor.)
The King was in awe of the miller’s son and asked him to marry his daughter, the Princess. The miller’s son accepted and, as Puss in Boots had promised at the beginning of the story, he became a very wealthy man indeed.
I introduce to you Puss in Boots: the original growth hacker!
Growth hacker marketing is a strategy any business can use. No matter what size your business is, whether you’re a startup, a one-man operation or a household name brand. Take away the need to market to the masses and just focus on the people who will actually buy from you.