The big new trend in the tech world and now in all industries is the cleverly coined term “growth-hacking,” which basically means the ability to quickly scale a product in creative ways outside of traditional marketing tactics. Think virality.
Companies like AirBnB , Dropbox and Facebook are famous for it, as they used specific hacks to grow their companies to a massive size. For example, Dropbox -- now valued at $10 billion -- created a program that rewarded both the inviter and the invitee 1GB of free online storage if the invitee signed up. This “hack” heavily contributed to the growth of Dropbox.
Despite the allure of a quick method that will lead to rapid scaling, growth-hacking is not a fit for every company. The biggest misconception around growth-hacking is that if your company puts some effort into it and test different methods of “going viral” then your company will have the chance to become huge. This isn't always the case
How do I know this? As the co-founder of Lettuce , an online inventory and order-management system, I tried this strategy and made a few mistakes.
Here are a few growth-hacking misconceptions and how to overcome them.
1. Growth hacking can happen at any stage. You can't grow a company that has an underdeveloped product or does not yet solve the problem of your target customer.
At Lettuce we tried to force the growth of a solution that had not yet achieved product-market fit by developing a referral program too early in our company’s life. We had seen a similar model work for other companies that growth hacked their way to success and thought that we could accomplish this as well. We chose to ignore the red flags.
At the time, our product was not yet great, and we did not have a large enough customer base to even help drive the initial viral growth. However, we were so excited by the chance of incorporating a distribution hack into our system that we went ahead and implemented it. As a result, the entire referral program ended up yielding us zero customers and we wasted critical developer time.
Before you consider growth hacking, make sure you have achieved product-market fit.
2. A single growth hacker is the ultimate solution. Something every company needs to understand is that growth is not the job of a single “hacker,” but should be the responsibility of the entire organization.
Initially, we made the mistake of hiring an employee whose sole role was to drive all of our growth. It ended up being a terrible situation for both sides.