An interesting article by Raf Weverbergh in which he tries to find the definition of the “growth hacker”.
What I think is a good point mentioned in the article is that the growth hacker is a person that looks for hacks in the system and pushes the limits of the terms of service to gain the edge. This is the essence of “hacking” – which means looking for loopholes, unorthodox solutions and innovative ideas. Basically it’s finding that back door that can help us grow faster than the competition.
I agree with Patrick Vlaskovics that you can only be named a growth hacker ex post, since in this business you’re only as good as your latest gig and solutions once used quickly become widespread and hence have little to do with hacks.
I don’t believe that it’s possible to develop a repeatable way to hack growth, since every solution is unique and may work only with the specific company, in a specific market and specific time-frame. There are plenty of examples of marketing gurus and self-proclaimed growth hackers that succeeded at one company and failed miserably at the other.
I think that these two ideas are the most important parts of the definition of a “growth hacker”:
1. Being able to find “hacks” in the system and successfully using them to stimulate the growth of the start-up
2. Being data-driven which means focusing heavily on the marketing analysis.
I think using the term “growth hacker” makes sense in the world of start-up where the growth has to be achieved in unorthodox ways because of the lack of funds and standard marketing strategies can’t be relied on, thus I find the definition useful to differentiate such person from a normal VP of Marketing.