Growth Hacker: What Makes a Successful Modern Marketer?

by | Nov 3, 2015 | Growth hacking, Startups

The skill profile of today’s most eligible marketer is different than it used to be. The very essence of marketing is shifting from “make people want the product” to “make the product people want”. With that, the successful modern marketer’s job description and daily focus of the present-day marketing expert has shifted as well.

There’s no debate—marketing is now dependent on software, data analytics, and growth-based strategies. In contrast to marketing’s original working profile, in which the professional had one niche area of expertise informed by either economics, creativity, or artistry, today’s marketer is better served by a T-shaped skill set, or a broader, more well-rounded set of skills. Yes, today’s aficionado may also have a niche, but he or she must think both critically and creatively.

Marketing and marketers may now even be referred to as growth hacking and growth hackers. It no longer works to structure your marketing plan around a sales team and a half-baked, one-page website—marketing is now about clearly-defined funnels of actionable and specific goals that are experimented with and optimized to drive business growth and product sales. It’s not just a catchy jingle or television ad—today’s marketing is multi-channel, and integrated, with technology-based solutions help guide strategy both at present and in the future.

Today’s successful marketing professional, or growth hacker, should have the following 5 basic skill sets:

  1. A data-driven mind—and strategy

Decisions about marketing should be based on data, not on opinions and hierarchy as it used to be. Social media marketers use platform and scheduling tool analytics like Hootsuite and Sprout to inform them about what users like—and don’t like so much. The same goes with website analytics, heat maps, and SEO software. Everything has a basis in confirmed data—and the data informs future strategy. Today’s growth hacker must be able to analyze and synthesize data in order to be successful.

  1. A strong overview of both product & business

To make a product people want, you must know both the business and the product inside out. Traditional marketing did not require so much background knowledge on what was being sold. Growth hackers need to be experts on what they’re selling through both inbound and outbound marketing in order to sell effectively. If you can’t communicate your product’s benefits to your customer, they won’t be able to do that, either.

  1. A command of today’s advertising alternatives

Growth hackers know that advertising must be spent wisely in a global, digital environment. Paid print advertising budgets for mailers and brochures should be calculated with caution. While Pay Per Click advertising will continue to be a major player, especially on social sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, growth hackers are also creatively brainstorming alternative solutions to PPC that cost next to nothing or nothing at all.

Free or low cost growth hacking alternatives include using your product itself as a distribution channel. Think Dropbox, which gives you extra storage when you invite a friend who signs up. Technology based solutions, like AirBnB’s strategy to have users post on Craigslist, can also have a huge impact on growth. Again, it just takes a creative thinker with a knack for data and ROI.

  1. A funnel approach to marketing strategy

Traditional marketing doesn’t even mention the word “funnel”. In modern marketing, funnels are essential. Today’s growth hacker must move through each step of their funnel with care, defining actionable and specific goals at the top of the funnel, then proceeding to take the next step of gathering user and social feedback, which helps build and prioritize goals.

Then, moving on through the funnel, analytics and targets for campaigns must be defined. Execute the experiment, optimize it with A/B (aka split) testing, and go from there. No more lack of measureable results and vanity metrics.

  1. An ability to find growth solutions

Part of being a growth hacker is having the innate passion to constantly look for growth solutions in every facet of life—new ideas that will help grow the company and product sales. An entrepreneurial, or at the very least, an imaginative mind, is necessary for today’s growth hacker. Growth hacking is a constant evolution, so staying on course with data mining and imaginative ideas will move companies onward.

Traditional marketing as we know it has disintegrated, and the growth hacking strategy has gained precedence. In an expansive digital world, technology and data analytics are the only tangible way that companies can effectively capture user, product, and service data (and sentiment!) in order to know where to move next—and what strategies or campaigns to stay away from. The online world is for the taking, but it’s also fragmented. Employ an actionable strategy by thinking like a growth hacker—or hiring someone who does!

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