Do you have what it takes to be a growth hacker?

‘Growth hacking’ is “a process of rapid experimentation across marketing channels, product development, sales segments, and other areas of the business to identify the most efficient ways to grow a business” (thanks for this definition Wikipedia). Yeah, it sounds great, but also perhaps a bit (or a lot) confusing, which is why it this term is often misunderstood.

As marketers, we have to get to grips with it, as people (especially peeps in high places) are putting their money on employing growth hacking specialists (even more than Artificial Intelligence specialists apparently) being the next big thing in 2018.

Where it all started…

Coined by Sean Ellis in 2010 in a blog post, growth hacking referred to a certain way of marketing startups so that they achieved their ultimate goal – yes, you guessed it: ‘growth’.  Ellis practiced growth hacking in startups such as Dropbox – enough said. In his now famous post, titled ‘Find a Growth Hacker for Your Startup’ he states: “A growth hacker is a person whose true north is growth. Everything they do is scrutinised by its potential impact on scalable growth.”

In the same post, he also says, “The right growth hacker will have a burning desire to connect your target market with your must have a solution.  They must have the creativity to figure out unique ways of driving growth in addition to testing/ evolving the techniques proven by other companies.”

Fundamental to a successful growth hacker is thus a passion to ignite a business so it goes from one to a billion in the shortest space of time and becomes the new Airbnb, Netflix, Amazon or Tinder! If you have ever wondered how certain (never heard of) startups became (household name) global enterprises ridiculously fast – it was mostly all down to, growth hacking.

Quick pause here: Above, yes, are the roots of growth hacking – that is a concept founded in startup companies. Now, however, it is time to learn from growth hackers what they did and employ strategies and techniques across all industries and businesses so that they too mirror a healthy and superfast growth trajectory in the digital economy.

More than ever it is time to think outside the box! What is interesting is that growth hacking craves the brainpower and courage of humans. Bring your whack to your hack, so to say. Are you a creative person willing to take risks and try new strategies and techniques? Are you ready to become a growth hacker within your company?

You’ll be in good company, so learn and be inspired by following these top 20 growth hackers on twitter: Sean Ellis @SeanEllis; Everette Taylor @Everette; Alex Osterwalder @AlexOsterwalder; Eric Ries @ericries; Neil Patel @Neil Patel; Noah Kagan @NoahKagan; Ehsan Jahandarpour @jahandarpour; Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré @NikkiElizDemere; Rand Fishkin @RandFish; Nathan Barry @NathanBarry; Jeff Walker @JeffWalker; Mike King @iPullRank; Hiten Shah @hnshah;  Gabriel Weinberg @yegg; Seth Godin @ThisIsSethsBlog;  Ryan Holiday @RyanHoliday;  Brian Balfour @bbalfour;   Bryan Harris @Harris_Bryan;  Sujan Patel @Sujanpatel;  Matthew Barby @matthewbarby (

Drill down further into other burning marketing issues at Madex 2018 with two seminar theatres – The Fundamentals and The Marketing Academy – focusing on cutting-edge industry content. Madex 2018 takes place between 6 and 7 June 2018 at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg. Please note that the entrance cost to Madex 2018 is R50, payable online or on-site at the show.


By Natasha Heiberg, trade marketing manager: Madex 2018, Specialised Exhibitions Montgomery