Edition 16: Let's Growth Hack 'Bro' 💪🏽

It’s already Thursday! Since last week’s letter was a little longer, I’ll (try) to keep this short & sweet!

Welcome to new subscribers! (Janessa, Tom, Sam & Ravi).


Sara (from Drift) put up a interesting question & there was a flurry of comments on Demand Generation being the same as Growth Marketing (Hacking).

If you’ve read my tweets, you’ll know where this is going. Some time ago some ‘bro’s’ from the valley likely decided Marketing is too much of a ‘old school’ word for what they did so they decided in good SV fashion, they should invent a new term. You know what sounds cool? Growth - because the valley is all about Growth At All Costs. So why the hell not call what they do (marketing) something more aligned with what the valley culture is (growth). They all wrote/read the same ‘case studies’ about leveraging craiglist (airbnb) or Facebook’s OpenGraph (Zynga) or Address book spam (LinkedIn) and decided they were ‘Growth Hackers’. Everyone and their grandmother called themselves a growth hacker. Turn a stone and a growth hacker would pop out asking if you wanted 10X something.

Eventually the markets turned and Growth Hacking became the thing people turned their nose to. Someone say Growth Hacker - run the other way. But as things go, there was a new term invented. It’s not Growth Hacking - no no. We are Growth Marketers or ‘Growth’ folks.

I mean seriously - who’s job isn’t it to grow the business in some way shape or form. From the Operations Manager to Finance to Marketing/ Product etc - everyone is trying to add value to the business.

There’s so many layers. But I’ll add this - marketing is a very very broad function. 99% of people think of marketing as acquisition & then by extension most of this noise about Growth (hacking, marketing etc) is focused on acquisition. Acquisition is sexy - look I just generated 10,000 pageviews.

But. I’ve just wrapped up an employer branding campaign for a client (yes that’s marketing too). Product Marketing, Customer Marketing, Corporate Marketing, Content Marketing, Press/Analyst Relations, Events … the list goes on.

So to answer Sara’s question - is Demand Generation essentially Growth(marketing) - 99% of the time yes. In a B2B context, Demand Generation is about moving/generating pipeline (as are other marketing functions but they don’t have a neat line through to pipeline as demand gen tends to have - <insert attribution discussion>. Using Growth & Marketing in the same sentence is like saying Meat Steak. Marketing’s core function is to grow the business - this happens via acquisition, customer insights/discovery, expansion, positioning, messaging etc.

I will likely come back to this topic later. Its like a fracking onion with layers and layers of nuance.


Something closer to home (Toronto) this discussion popped up in the Startup North Group on Facebook:

Most founders don’t value/understand marketing & hence don’t invest in it. Investment in the form of 💰 for headcount or investment into marketing. Most senior marketers don’t want to end up in a company where they won’t be valued or have the bandwidth to do what it takes without having a CEO/COO breathing down their necks on why their website only got 500 views last month or some other metric and not having the room to hire folks to build an actual time, time to understand the market,customer etc.

Junior hires are less expensive & they can run your Adwords campaigns without actually understanding if people are searching google for a solution, what kind of people are the best fit customers etc etc.

This is one of the reasons Gia & Claire started ForgetTheFunnel & Elevate. (disclosure, I’ve done a workshop with them on FTF).

This thing is another onion folks. I’ll come back to it another time (please send me your thoughts!!)

I’ll say this though - its 2019 and marketing is still seen as a cost center not a revenue driver which just fracking pisses me off.


I promised Wes I’d touch on Product Led Growth & my reservations with the usage of the term.

My main concern with any marketing bandwagon is that the term will be abused & it gives people the impression ‘You don’t need marketing, build it and they will come because your product will sell itself’.

I hope that we can add a bit more of nuance around the PLG conversation - it does not work for every business / GTM (not all software should/can be freemium), you still need marketing to define your audience and help them discover/get value from the product over time & expand. I’ve worked on freemium products, the challenge with freemium is there is a VERY high signal:noise ratio & it can lead to being your team (esp support) being stretched very thin with requests from every direction. There’s alot of consideration that needs to go in before you wake up and decide to make your product free for all one day.


Lots of things to unpack this week but I tried to keep it short.

Enjoyed this? Disagreements? let me know on Twitter or reply back.

🎧 This was written with Dire Straits as the soundtrack.

P.S Mike Isaac (NYT) has an excellent book out about the story of Uber & Silicon Valley/Tech (culture) in general called Super Pumped, The Battle for Uber. I’ve been reading it the past day or so and it’s superb. Ofcourse he never looks at the camera when I ask him to.