A bit more of a controversial blog this week folks!
As a team with our minds glued to the wonderful world of marketing strategies and terminologies, there is one phrase that has caused the most debate in our virtual offices in recent months.
And that phrase is ‘Growth Marketing’ – also known as ‘Growth Hacking’.
Before we begin…what is growth marketing?
One definition is that growth marketing isn’t about fixating on one part of your funnel. It’s about looking at your entire customer lifecycle and using those insights to create compounding returns that drive more engaged customers.
Growth marketers are data-driven pros that use tests to determine how to optimise results (e.g. an A/B test with email or testing social ads) and who work continually to find innovative ways to drive acquisition, keep customers engaged, retain them and ultimately turn them into brand advocates.
Traditionally, marketing efforts have been separated from the product, with the marketing department isolated from other aspects of the business. Today, growth marketing is integrated within product development.
In other words, growth marketers are master experimenters at every stage of the funnel and they work closely with the whole business to gain better insights and act on these.
So exactly how is growth marketing different from “regular” marketing?
That is the key question! According to growth marketing experts, growth marketers think about the entire funnel. They believe that traditional marketing focuses on the top of the funnel, often with activities that drive short-term wins only as well as account-based marketing focusing on key accounts.
In their mind, traditional marketing only focuses on bringing the leads in via Awareness and Acquisition.
Growth marketing, in comparison, is about having a mindset for growth and less about implementing tactics that have been traditionally used in marketing.
Ok then, so what do I think…
Well as a commercial marketer of over 20 years, I would say that I have worked with a growth marketing mindset for pretty much all of my career. After all, you need to look at the whole picture to truly understand what motivates and engages your target audience to act. Which is ultimately what you want, an action.
Growth marketers are keen on talking about retention and acquiring customers that will stick around. That they never stop and keep pushing to test and try new things and to positively not be tied down just because that is the way things are done.
I don’t think I have ever worked for a brand, agency or organisation that doesn’t behave that way. As a marketer I have always focused on the best, most engaging way to get the audience interested as my brand or client always wanted to see growth – growth in sales, growth in turnover, growth in loyalty and growth in engagement.
So what is considered a growth marketing strategy and mindset?
It may be that you are nodding your head to my words, it may be you are shouting vehemently at your screen disagreeing with me (and that is ok too). Critically, what does a growth marketing strategy look like?
The overarching goals of growth marketing are common goals for any business:
- retain existing customers
- acquire new customers
- increase profits.
This is then supported by setting objectives, testing activity before committing the budget, diversifying to truly understand where your audience is and engaging, then continually measuring, reflecting and refining.
And this is where I struggle with the growth marketing terminology. Marketing has always been about this, and always will be. Obviously, the ways you do it adapt and change depending on what you find out works and the new platforms that come along. It has also always been the case that it is business-critical to keep your existing customers happy and prioritise them, as it is far easier to sell to them versus converting a new customer.
Growth Marketing and companies with a growth mindset do not waste marketing budget on strategies that have not proven successful. Well, I have worked with many, many marketers who do the same, and they wouldn’t consider themselves growth marketers.
My final thought
Perhaps then the better phrase is commercial marketer; certainly when compiling P&L statements and employing test-and-learn and optimisation techniques, this would seem to meet both the objectives of the growth marketer AND a traditional marketer, like me.
(A final note! Growth marketing is often referred to as growth hacking too. A lot of people in the marketing community instantly feel negative about this marketing approach; after all, hacking is a word with many negative connotations. And I tend to agree – where is the brand marketing and storytelling with this approach)?
If you want to debate the pros and cons of marketing terms, or fancy a virtual cuppa to discuss any of our thoughts about the marketing world, then contact us here.