The New Marketing Mindset

Invention and Innovation could sometimes be polar opposites.

Seems counter intuitive, right? But when you read this brilliant piece on Segway, it would seem almost commonsensical. Segway, the article posits, failed because it was focused solely on inventionbelieving that it alone has come up with the perfect idea for a great product. The company didn’t spend as much time or effort on innovation the ongoing iterative process of going back and forth with the consumers to test and understand what the market wants and ensuring that the product meet their needs.   

This on going iterative process with the consumer to test and understand what market wants and applying these learnings to make your product meet their needs has a specialised name today.

Growth Hacking.

Depending upon who you are / what you’ve been smoking / or what you’ve been reading recently, this could possibly be the first time you hear this term or probably even the zillionth! Whichever be the case, Growth Hacking as a term is topping the charts in popularity, appeal and relevance to describe a must have mindset in the world of product design and marketing.

Coined by Sean Ellis in this legendary article, Growth Hacking is essentially marketing albeit repurposed to the evolving dynamics of consumer, product and consumption today. Chances are that most of us would have been witness to, experienced, and were target consumers of live Growth Hacking experiments. Don’t believe me?

  • Did you yearn for an invite for a Gmail account back when Gmail was introduced? That was neat Growth Hack from Google!
  • Did you refer your friends to try out Dropbox to get free storage space in return? You were being Growth Hacked!
  • Do you remember those end lines in mails that said something like Sent from my Blackberry/iPad/iPhone..? Growth Hack, it was!

Read about the 10 of the best growth hacks of all time here. Aaron Ginn’s page is a great place to start on a journey to explore more resources on Growth Hacking and Ryan Holiday’s book Growth Hacker Marketing could make for a great primer on this topic over an afternoon meal.

Today ‘Growth Hacker’ as a term has gone mainstream even in the jobs’ lexicon. For it is not unusual to run into marketing job postings that come labelled as “Wanted Growth Hackers”!

While case studies of how Growth Hacking has worked out for (now) big brands like Instagram, Pinterest or Airbnb make for a fascinating read, lesser known examples can give an equally compelling perspective and an insight on how Growth Hacking can actually move the needle. The story of Bilingual Child – an iOS App to teach Spanish for kids – is a recent example. Not content with how their sales were panning out, the team at Bilingual Child went on to delve a bit deeper into the data and discovered a Growth Hack. The result:  they tripled their revenue by adding one button! Read the story here.

Bilingual Child

(Source, Medium. Click on the picture to read the story)

Well, if you have come this far you could be forgiven for thinking that Growth Hacking is majorly applicable to software products or startups. But nothing could be farther from the truth.

Amy Webb was having no luck with online dating. So she figured out the system, monitored and measured the impact of her  ‘hacks’ and went about achieving what she set out to do – finding her match. Hear this story of how she went on to hack her online dating life — with frustrating, funny and life-changing results.

Is this Growth Hacking? You bet it is – Amy’s bold and calculated attempt to drive growth in the quantity and the quality of potential matches for her. The core essence of her approach is equally (if not more so) applicable to something like say updating my LinkedIn profile. And that for me is a compelling takeaway from her TED talk.

So the bottom line is clear, irrespective of the field of application – a company, a product or even a person, the ability to delve into data, bring in curiosity and operate with a mix of creativity and an analytical ability has huge implications in driving growth. No wonder then, Growth Hacking is said to be redefining the very mindset of marketing as we know it.

After all, when was the last time you had a name for a discipline that neatly encapsulated the objective and the enabler of the activity in a single breath?  

(Featured Image, Medium’s collection on Growth Hacking, Another great resource on this subject)

The Job Hunt – Part 3/3

Check out my previous two posts for the part 1 and 2 of this series.

For many job openings, getting the foot into the door – getting recruited – tends to be the most tricky part. Obviously different companies have different ways of going about this. 3 latest trends that I see playing out in the job hunt marketplace:

  • Recruitment by Resonance.
  • Recruitment by Challenge.
  • Recruitment by Algorithm.

This post shall be on the third trend.

Recruitment By Algorithm

In a recent interview with the renowned business psychologist, Dr Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, he shares an interesting insight on the evolution of the internet. From a ‘consumer/user’ perspective, he says, there are three significant stages in the internet era. Loosely put they can be called as:

  1. Knowledge Era: This was around 1998 when Google became mainstream. We searched for something on Google and the first hit magically turned out to be the answer to what we were looking for – this was a breakthrough from past search engines and a breakthrough in machine learning systems.
  2. Social Era: This was around 2004 with the introduction of Facebook, when the focus shifted from retrieving information to ‘retrieving people’. Whereas Google connected consumers to information, Facebook (and other such Social media portals) connect consumers to each other and make ‘products’ out of consumers.
  3. Social Knowledge Era: The third era, which has only just about begun, combines the two previous ones: it is the era where people can instantly capture and aggregate all the information on a given topic. And vice versa –  all information about people out there can be aggregated and captured. 
Welcome to the era where ego surfing – self googling — is now more important than updating your CV.
As a consequence of spending so much time online, we now leave traces of our personality everywhere. This social media foot print that we leave each single day (think of all the info that we leave on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Path, Renren, Orkut,  Amazon, Gmail, Tripadvisor, or any multitude of other sites each passing day and you get the idea) manifests itself as a folio of Digital Reputation that we build over time.
Given this, and as aptly noted in the HBR blogpost, we are stepping into a time when employers are likely to find their future leaders in cyberspace owing to 3 reasons:
  1. The web makes recruiting easier for employers and would-be employees
  2. The web makes recruiting less biased and less clubby
  3. Web analytics (speak of Big Data) can help recruiters become more efficient

Result: we will soon witness the proliferation of machine learning systems that automatically match candidates to specific jobs and organizations – not just based on our preferences/qualifications and experience (like the current day job portals) but on the basis of our digital footprint that is much bigger and more complicated that we can ever imagine.

For starters, how many times did you google your new boss or colleague? And that begets the question, how many times did you ‘investigate’ yourself and how many times did you reverse engineer your Digital Reputation…..in the recent past?