The Myth of Growth Hacking

The idea behind growth hacking is speed to results and lower costs of client acquisition. There is nothing wrong with these goals as stated, but there is also nothing new here, with the exception of the strong desire to move to more transactional models. And here is why the idea of “hacking,” or shortcuts to producing results, runs face first into reality.

But first, a word of explanation. If your business is transactional, by all means, transact, and transact like the devil. If, however, your business is more relational, more strategic, and one in which you are required to create greater value, the idea of shortcuts that speed things up and make them cheaper are more likely to work against you.

The growth of a business comes in one of three ways. The first way to increase your revenue is to raise your prices. More revenue from every sale will most assuredly increase the size of your business. The second way to grow your business is to sell more to your existing clients. Increased wallet share, all things being equal, and accounting for churn, your business will become larger. The third and final growth strategy is to acquire more clients.

The idea of optimizing growth by tweaking marketing isn’t a new idea. It’s an old idea applied to new mediums. The strong desire to focus on the transactional interactions one has with prospective clients using email and social channels trades a focus on efficiency over a focus on effectiveness, which is to trade more for better. And when it comes to client acquisition specifically, better is almost always better than more (minus the circumstances where one is guilty of being lazy and having too little activity).

If you are going to iterate, tweak things, and improve the speed of your growth in a more complex, business-to-business sale, you are going to want to look at the only three ways to grow a business and work backward from there.

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