The rise of the growth hacker. Another digital term to describe a practice we’re all doing as marketers anyway or something new?
The term growth hacker is something we’re hearing a lot these days, is it just another buzzword or something more? In a previous post I referred to a survey that highlighted a skills gap in digital marketing. And while it was commissioned by a recruitment company (presumably in the hope of generating business) it also raised a big question that many brands encounter, certainly the ones we speak to: how do we structure our marketing departments and what skillsets do we need?
Today there are so many platforms, marketing automation tools and strategies – not to mention traditional media and PR – the list is getting longer and longer.
As a content marketing agency working in digital, we face these challenges on a daily basis. Our job, and what we’re good at, is cutting through the noise and making the right choices to deliver a mixture of brand awareness and conversions. But it’s complicated. We’re always learning. New platforms come along just as others disappear, consumers are increasingly apathetic.
We would describe ourselves as growth hackers, combining technical savvy with a solid marketing approach. But more than that, our people are marketing entrepreneurs. willing to take more chances and with a strong belief in their capabilities. For example, looking from the outside our content team would appear very similar to a traditional digital creative set-up, we have a Head of Creative and a Head of Development. But we also have a Head of Editorial. This vital position enables us to bring the reactive, predictive and engagement skills associated with journalism to brand projects. We can plan well ahead but also react to an evolving market, giving our clients the right mix of long term strategy and opportunistic activity to drive ROI.
If I were advising a brand on who to recruit, first and foremost I’d want people with a strong investigative and entrepreneurial spirit, something I’d say is a fundamental growth hacker trait. Couple this to some marketing experience and technical skills, and you have a winner. These people can be hard to find and, in the context of a large marketing department, it can be difficulty to train people across multiple channels.
But to take a step back, we met Swedish agency Matter recently. They’d come over for the CMA awards and though they didn’t win, they should have. What I found refreshing about them was their approach to working with brands. They don’t produce anything, they simply provide editorial strategy which slots in neatly above all the various channels their client works in, pulling all the strings and curating content before it’s pushed through each channel. This means the brand’s message works seamlessly. It’s a nice approach.
As Content Marketers, we frequently end up talking to clients about how to break their slots down. This can be tricky; what we’re really suggesting is the client reorganises their marketing department. That’s often painful.
I think the smart marketing directors are the ones who recognise this. They implement systems and people in a layer above the channels, meaning they’re managed more effectively and focused on how the brand audience are behaving. This is how we like to operate with our clients – it works for us.