Your job as a marketer could be on the way out.
Traditional marketing is dead. And marketers who are still holding on to conventional marketing practices could be on the way out.
Well, that’s according to the dire prediction of Ryan Holiday, author of the book ‘Growth Hacker Marketing’, which cited some of the leading brands and companies that resorted to non-traditional marketing strategies to build their massive presence.
Traditional marketing vs digital marketing: which is the best for your company?
In a nutshell, the book is about how traditional marketing is no longer working and how companies, entrepreneurs and anyone who wants to build a massive client base (and ultimately grow their business) need to embrace a new way of reaching their audience through digital marketing.
The book outlined the reasons and cited many evidence to show why traditional marketing is not working in this digital age where consumers (clients) are heavy users of the internet, web-based applications and social media channels.
Holiday, who has advised many bestselling authors and multiplatinum musicians, used his own experience and how he transitioned from traditional marketing to what he now calls “growth hacking marketing.”
Marketing lesson from Tim Ferris
One of the high profile cases he mentioned was the launch of Tim Ferris’ (yes, the 4-Hour Work Week author) book The 4-Hour Chef. Apparently, just before the book launch, all the usual bookstores and shop fronts that used to showcase paperbound copies of books have shut their doors for any promotion of the would be bestseller.
Holiday, who had been working with Tim Ferris even before he became famous, had to scramble for a different strategy to launch and promote the book. Holiday and his team were forced to think of ways to reach a massive audience without the traditional ‘launch’ event.
What they did delivered some incredible results that surpassed their previous successes. Here are some of the astounding figures from the ‘book launch’ even without the presence in traditional brick-and-mortar bookstores:
- 2,000,000 downloads
- 1,261,152 page visits
- 880,009 Amazon impressions
- 327,555 Tim Feriss website impressions
- 293,936 book trailer impressions
- More than 60,000 physical copies of the book sold in the first week of launch
When multi-million dollar promos no longer work
Aside from the publishing industry, which is one of the most directly affected by the coming of the internet, digital technology social media, Holiday also mentioned that the film industry is another victim of the changing ways of viewers and movie fans.
In previous years film producers and financiers would just throw millions of dollars on big launches and premier events to push the equally big budget movies. But then those lavish events stopped working and some movies failed despite the expensive promotions.
Today, even the most cashed up movie producers and film outfits are trying to find ways to attract viewers using non-traditional marketing strategies.
Who is Ryan Holiday?
So, you may be asking, who is Ryan Holiday and what are his credentials to be talking about the death of traditional marketing? Interestingly enough, Holiday started his marketing career in an industry that’s heavily dependent on traditional marketing techniques – clothing/fashion. He used to be the vice president at American Apparel, a clothing manufacturer, designer and distributor with more than 200 retail shops all over the world.
Is your job as a marketer on the way out?
But after reading an article about ‘Growth Hacker as the new VP of Marketing’, Holiday said he realised that he could soon be out of job if he continues doing what traditional marketers were doing – e.g. buy advertisements, plan events, design creatives, approve promotions, etc.
From then he immersed himself into what is called ‘growth hacking’ by studying companies such as Dropbox, Zynga, Instagram and Pinterest, which are now worth billions of dollars but did not use traditional marketing strategies to grow their business.
These companies – which did not have big marketing budgets to start with – resorted to innovative ways, back-door-solutions and clever data analysis to know their customers, where they are and what they want. And ultimately these companies grew massively into billion dollar businesses that they are now.
Not a how to book
While Holiday stated upfront that his book is not another ‘how to’ tome, he outlined the steps involved in what he described as a ‘new cycle’ – a much more fluid process for marketers and everyone involved in promoting products and winning customers.
Here are the steps according to Holiday:
- Begin with Product Market Fit – This may sound just another marketing jargon, but it simply means make something (your product or service) that people want. Instead of spending millions of marketing dollars promoting a product that nobody wants, make something that people want and need and most likely you will have people knocking on your door, signing up for what you’re offering and maybe buying them on the spot (online). It makes sense?
Making your product or service Product Market Fit involves engagement with your clients and potential clients. It also means you have to be willing to make changes and improvements to what you’re offering. There is no point getting customer feedback if you won’t act on them anyway.
- Finding your growth hack – This involves refining or fine tuning your product or service based on customer feedback. It could also mean focusing on a very specific niche market, no matter how small it is then growing the client base from there.
According to Holiday, in the new cycle, marketers should resist the temptation of wanting to be everything to everyone. Instead, they should focus on attracting a small number of loyal and avid supporters and implement the process as cheaply as possible by using available digital media and social media channels.
- Going viral – This involves making your product or service so cool and inspiring enough that people want to share it with their friends, families and all of their contacts. This may be a challenge if you’re offering some boring financial product or something so commoditised that no one really cares about.
But according to Holiday, there are other ways to get your product or service shareable. Though offering a cool and interesting product or service would be a great place to start, you can also encourage your customers to share and recommend what you’re offering by giving them incentives. Make it easy for them to share and to spread the word about your product or service.
- Close the loop: Retention and Optimisation – The book assumes that if you implement those previous steps you would have a captive audience (clients, customers, buyers and followers) and all you have to do is keep them engaged by giving them what they want and need. Again this involves constantly asking your clients on what they want, how else you can improve your product or service and then making the necessary changes or enhancements to suit your clients’ needs. In a sense it goes back and closes the loop by starting with step on – making Product Market Fit.
Now, you may be asking if this book is relevant to you. Or is it talking about something that you can apply to where you are now? Whether you’re the Chief Marketing Officer, the Vice President for Marketing or Marketing Director in your company – does this book and what is it saying, apply to you?
Holiday’s book cited some of the high profile success stories in the business world today. And there’s no question that these companies and businesses grew by using non-traditional marketing strategies that relied heavily on the use of technology, digital technology, social media, data analysis and extreme level of innovation on all fronts.
Growth hacking is not a tool kit
You may think that the ideas discussed in this book only apply to new products and services or techy entrepreneurs who are bootstrapping their products and services. But one of the key takeaways from it is the concept that “growth hacking is more of a mindset than a tool kit”
If you approach it that way and explore what is something that you can learn from this book – it is the fact that in this current and evolving marketing landscape where consumers and all your target audiences (markets) are constantly using the Internet and social media to make their buying decision, you as a marketer also need to have a mindset that is attuned to the wants and needs of your audience.
Don’t launch a product nobody wants
You can no longer afford to launch product after product that doesn’t appeal to your potential clients. You cannot just go out there and offer a service without asking or knowing your target audience if they have a need for that service.
You may or may not agree with all the ideas and steps of growth hacking in this book, but we believe it is worth considering and exploring some new ideas to reach out and to engage with customers and potential customers.
Knowing who and where your customers are
After all, if marketing is all about finding out who and where our customers are, it might be worth considering some digital marketing techniques and using some social media channels where customers are now spending more time each day.
If you have some practical and useful tips that you’ve used as ‘growth hacking’ or a new way or marketing to your clients and customers, feel free to share with us and our readers. We’re always on the lookout for fresh and practical ideas that will help marketers to optimise their marketing strategies.