Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Marketing IS Hacking

What do marketers need to do?

If we define a hacker as "generally referring to someone who challenges the existing order, most often using science, engineering, or information technology" in order to change it then we are really talking about marketers in the digital age.

The purpose of marketing is to change history by identifying growth opportunities in terms of markets, products, segments, etc.   Today, this is as much about leveraging technology (and the data it spins off) as it is about the human element.   In fact, about a year ago the post "Find a Growth Hacker" clearly tied hacking and marketing together at the hip when author Sean Ellis talked about that entrepreneurial drive to do what ever it takes to grow the business.

More recently, the term has appeared in connection with big data.  In a Mashable post earlier this month, Joseph Kelly talked about the need for data scientists and growth hackers inside of agencies.  These are the folks that figure out how the world works at its core, kind of like the Higgs boson, then put something new together from the parts so that they can make consumers' lives easier.

And it turns out that marketers have questions that need serious hacking:
  • What is the likely next step in a consumer's journey? - when she herself doesn't know.
  • How can we intersect a journey with interesting content? - for a person that we can't track.
  • What would help her choose? - when we don't understand her changing need states.
The challenge is that these questions require the independent, innovative, hacking mentality that doesn't typically fit within structured programs.  In this world success is measured after the fact, not guaranteed before. 

If your goal is to be an agile leader then hacking is required because the mantra is test, fix and try.

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