From Tech Jargon to Retail Success: Growth Hacking
They have been called “wizards,” “gurus” and “anarchists” by a breathless Silicon Valley contingent. They are an elite group, wunderkinds who possess special powers to drive a startup to quick success. They believe they are redefining B2C communications. They are the growth hackers.
Tech player Sean Ellis created the term “growth hacker” in 2010, defining it as “a person whose true north is growth. Everything they do is scrutinized by its potential impact on scalable growth.”
He added, “The reason I created the term was that I wanted to distance myself and others from the 80-90% of marketers that made me cringe with their acronyms and lack of accountability to results.”
The guy was on to something. So in this continuing series of posts about great retail marketing ideas behind terrible tech startup jargon, we look at growth hacking.
Tech growth hackers leverage an understanding of customer behavior, market dynamics, and what’s technically possible, and then they use creative thinking to put them all together to drive growth. It is an ideal approach for a lean startup.
But the growth hacker mindset can also work for retail marketers. (I realize that historically, hacking plus retail does not equal success. But the focus here is on using the power for good.) Essentially, a hack is a shortcut, and a hacker is simply a brave individual who thinks creatively, tosses out the rules, and continuously discovers new ways to solve problems.
Retail marketers can bring a little growth hacker attitude to their efforts by redefining and reapplying growth hacking mandates:
Experiment… a lot. Taking chances and putting things out into the world to gauge results is Growth Hacker 101. For the retail marketer, this means testing; auditioning ideas in a few stores, learning what works, getting input from shoppers, making the necessary tweaks and then testing it again. A hacker creates a loop, gathering information to make each iteration of an idea better.
Crank the creativity to 11. Push boundaries and break rules. Explore. When a retail marketer is looking at efforts in terms of testing and feedback, there are no failures – only learnings. Tweak the status quo and bend a shopper’s reality.
Dig in to data. It is not about creativity for the sake of creativity. Hacker ideas are built on insights gleaned from research. Always be analyzing consumer behavior; find what she is really looking for when she shops. Use data to validate assumptions and refine efforts. And measure, measure, measure.
Activate the customer. Of course the marketer must give the shopper something to do; retail is all about engagement now. However, a retail marketing hacker will build in opportunities for the shopper to further a message by incentivizing them to refer others. Free product, exclusive access to a major in-store event or VIP info about upcoming sales can turn a shopper into a vocal advocate.
Integrate technology. Being a marketing hacker means being agile and responsive in real time (the original growth hackers were programmers and makers). Technology-linked in-store activities that can be adapted quickly and inexpensively (compared to major store design or event hacks, which I also advocate) by changing a few lines of code or a user interface drives creative freedom and willingness to experiment.