In Seth Godin's book, This is Marketing, he reminds us of the origin of the word 'hack.’ It comes from Hackney, a neighbourhood in London that trained average horses. Not the best horses, but horses that would meet minimum standards for labour - pulling carts, etc.
So if to hack something is to be average - status quo - why would we use it when referring to growing a business? Something we don't want to be average at. Most of us – at least I hope so – want to produce above-average companies at above-average rates.
Yet, hacking has become a term used when needing to speed up results while doing less work. Or find a shortcut to getting great results.
But why would we want to do less work - less marketing, communicating with our audiences - to get fast results?
Of course, many of us want more revenue now rather than delaying it to the future. Yet, we're missing the point of doing the work.
Most of the work that goes into marketing is about experimenting to find the proper brand positioning, offerings and ensuring we're delivering on our promises; the products or services we sell.
Some will say growth hacking allows us to test the work and find results faster. And I agree to an extent. But, the intent of finding a solution to transform your business overnight is wrong.
What creates results once may not repeat itself again.
Instead, we need to grow a brand the way we naturally create relationships with new people – over time without the intention to get something out of this new friend.
With new friends or people we think could be our friends, we look for things in common by exploring who the other person is and freely telling our own stories and points of view.
When we find things in common, we build a little more trust with one another. Leading us to take another chance and find another aspect of each other we can agree on.
Once trust is created, and we believe the person is who they say they are, do we plan a road trip together. Or go on an adventure with one of their friends. Or ask for advice about a sticky situation.
Essentially, once trust is built, we're willing to exchange that trust for something else. The same way a customer trades their trust in a company they believe can help solve their problem.
So to grow our companies, let's build better relationships with potential customers through content that resonates with who they are. Let's make a better customer experience that matches the type of person they are, or simply put, treat your customers as if they were going to be your friend.
And let's scrap the term growth hacking and just call it growth marketing.
No one wants to be a hack or be hacked into buying something.