Growth hacking refers to business strategies that focus exclusively on growing a company. These are usually low-cost marketing initiatives to acquire and retain customers. These tactics are more concerned with getting the desired results, rather than following traditional marketing procedures. Startups often employ growth hacking to gain traction in the marketplace.

In a way, it’s like guerilla warfare, where guerillas do everything it takes to win battles and survive, rather than follow established rules of engagement.

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What is growth hacking?

Stiff competition is pushing startups to turn to growth hacking to rise above the rest. But how do you do that? Here’s a step-by-step guide.

4 Steps in Growth Hacking

1. Develop a Product That People would Want

Gone are the days when a company can simply create a product with standard features. Today, startups have to make sure that their products or services offer more than consumers expect. One way to find out what innovations they want to see in products and services is by getting feedback. It would be even better if you had product or service prototypes that they can try. Before launching your offerings, review their feedback, and make the necessary adjustments to get the best results.

2. Choose a Target Audience

The next step is to identify your target audience. You can’t just develop a product or service and offer it to anyone who passes by your store. You have to know who would actually want and avail of your offering. That is where intensive market research comes in. You need to find out who you need to approach and convince to buy. One way of doing that is by creating a detailed customer profile. Be sure to factor in specifics. Once you’ve got that figured out, list down how they will benefit from your product or service and make that part of your sales pitch.

3. Acquire Customers

Based on Eric Ries’s The Lean Startup, three factors stimulate growth. Make sure to achieve all these:

  • Viral: Make sure users recommend your offering to others (e.g., their friends, family members, or work colleagues). Going viral is highly similar to effective word-of-mouth marketing.
  • Sticky: Give your customers an unforgettable experience that would keep them glued to your offerings.
  • Paid: Spend a little to bring more customers to your store. Think of Groupon, where you only have to spend US$50 to gain a customer that can bring in as much as US$500–600 to your door.

4. Retain Customers

Once you have customers’ attention, do everything to retain them. Repeat customers are good for business because they are most likely to spend more and, from an advertiser’s point of view, cheaper to maintain. Keep improving your products and services to gain their trust and loyalty.

The concept of growth hacking may only be a few years old, but it is significantly helping companies, particularly startups, scale their business.