Growth Hacker Marketing by Ryan Holiday

“The end goal of every growth hacker is to build a self-perpetuating marketing machine that reaches millions by itself.”– Aaron Ginn.

“Growth hackers are data scientists meets design fiends meets marketers. They welcome this information, process it and utilize it differently, and see it as desperately needed clarity in a world that has been dominated by gut instincts and artistic preference for too long.” (175) “A growth hacker doesn’t see marketing as something one does, but rather as something one builds into the product itself. The product is then kick-started, shared, and optimized (with these steps repeated multiple times) on its way to massive and rapid growth.” (loc 89)

Growth hacking is not sexy. It’s about focus and moving the greatest levers. Holiday explains, “Instead of bludgeoning the public with ads or dominating the front page of newspapers to drive awareness–they used a scalpel, precise and targeted to a specific audience.” (loc 162) Jonah Berger, author of Contagious, explains, “Virality isn’t luck. It’s not magic. And it’s not random. There’s a science behind why people talk and share. A recipe. A formula, even.”

The key elements: Mindset, PMF, and Retention.


“What stunned me the most about those companies was that none of them were built with any of the skills that traditional marketers like myself had always considered special and most were built without the resources I’d long considered essential. I couldn’t name the “marketer”–and  definitely not the agency–responsible for their success because there wasn’t one. Growth hacking had made “marketing” irrelevant or at least completely rewritten its best practices.” (loc 81)

Think Big. Everything is focused on growth.

Product Market Fit (PMF): The product and its customers are in perfect sync with each other.

E.g. Amazon: “it’s company policy that before developing a new product the product manager must submit a press release to their supervisor for that item before the team even starts working on it. The exercise forces the team to focus on exactly what its potential new product is and what’s special about it.” (loc 235)

Who is the product for?

Why would they use it?

Why do I use it? (loc 278)

The product fits the market even before dev to maximize  dev resources.

“Retention trumps acquisition”

Market Metrics claims the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%, while to a new prospect it’s just 5-20%.

“You’re better off teaching your customers how to use your product–spending time, as services like Facebook and Amazon do, to get users to supply more personal information and make them more engaged–than chasing some new person who doesn’t really care.” (loc 545)

Other Best Practices:

  • Evernote produced stickers (for laptops) that said: “I’m not being rude. I’m taking notes in Evernote.” Thus, Their most loyal customers were turning into billboards that went from meeting to meeting. (loc 268)

  • “Dropbox rewards users with 250 MB of extra storage if they take a tour of the basics of Dropbox. The idea is to teach members how to use the service and motivate them to get past potential hurdles… Offers a 125 MB to send 90 characters of feedback…” (loc 524)

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