Why A Growth Hack Can Never Be Common Practice
I am sure you have seen the word “hacking” used in many different contexts. It initially started as a name for the very few and special, talented IT-people who could gain unauthorized access to well-protected computer systems retrieving confidential and sensitive information. Not exactly legal, but maybe not harmful either. The objective was mostly to prove that it was possible and that you were the one that could do it. There was and still is a race between hackers and computer security professionals.
From there the term moved into marketing and revenue generation in general. This time with an apparent commercial objective.
Growth hacking may be defined as a process of rapid experimentation across marketing channels and product development to identify the most efficient ways to grow a business fast and on a very slim budget. It’s typical experimentation where you walk the fine line between what is allowed (by the marketing platforms) and what is possible.
It’s a cat and mouse game
By definition, the approach must deliver unusually high performance/price ratios. If it’s something anybody can do and does, then it can hardly be called a hack.
My point is that a hack, that yields exceptional performance/price ratios, will only continue to do so when used by a minority. A hack used by everyone will soon lose its effectiveness. The channel will be exhausted and dry out.
Let’s imagine that you have found a way to use LinkedIn that yields phenomenal results. Would you now write a post or a book about it and share it with your competitors? I don’t think so, because if you did, then you would soon lose your competitive advantage. Everyone would now copy the approach. LinkedIn would also notice the hack and would work hard to find a way to monetize that traffic. They want their fair share of the value created by their platform. That’s how social media platforms evolve and change both the services they provide and how they charge for our activities. While we are all trying to find the least expensive way to reach our target audiences, the platforms are finding new ways to get their share of that value. As soon as they catch up and put a price tag on our hack, we are into new ways of bending the rules.
Why growth hacking cannot be learned by reading books and attending seminars
As soon as an approach can be learned from a book or by attending a workshop it has become universal and public knowledge. It will not give you a competitive advantage, and it will not take you ahead of the game. I am not saying you should not read books and that you should stay away from seminars. Most people must catch up now and then, and books and workshops are great for that. But you have to work hard and be dedicated, taking it a step further if you want to create a competitive advantage. You must do things that are difficult to copy. If only because those things are well-kept secrets. Your competitors cannot copy something they don’t know exists.
That’s why a growth hack never can be common practice.