Do I need to hire a "growth hacker" or "growth marketer?" What's the difference?

I want to hire a growth person to my startup, but I'm not sure whether to look for a 'growth hacker.' It seems like we're calling everything 'growth hacking' these days. What is the difference between growth hackers and growth marketers?


Anyone who calls themselves something fancy like that is probably one of the 99% in the industry that have no idea what they are doing and will make you hemorrhage money.

Find a MARKETER with a proven track record and use them to build an empire. If you don't want an empire and, instead, want to make your friends jealous by bragging about "new hires," then hire a "growth hacker" or "assistant of hardcore development" or "rad visualization chairman" or whatever other stupid position all these failing startups get caught on.

Answered 10 years ago

Why do you want to hire for growth right now? Do you have product/market-fit and you've had growth from existing initiatives but can't break past a certain point? If so, then adding to your team someone who is either a traditional marketer but has evolved their skill-set to be able to test and measure everything they do in rapid iterative cycles, or someone who has strong product experience and has led technical and design talent to grow and retain a user-base and can articulate exactly how their efforts helped in that success, could be a good investment.

Or do you think that this person is going to be some kind of magic bullet who will solve current product/market-fit issues? Obviously I don't know anything about you or your business but based purely on the way you're stating the question, my concern is whether this desire to hire is the best decision for you.

Instead of looking for the differences between two silly buzzwords, always ask yourself first: What is that I need, why is it that I think I need this and how can I best confirm that this is the best path for me, before investing a lot. There should be a lot of experimentation you can do on your own or with the help of a moderate amount of consulting hours that determines whether an investment in a full-time employee focused on growth and/or awareness is a prudent investment at this time.

Happy to talk to you about where you're at and provide you my perspective on your current stage.

Answered 10 years ago

The main difference between a growth hacker and a growth marketer is the fact that growth marketing has nothing to do with growth hacking!

For industry professionals that really understand what these terms mean, the term growth marketer means a marketing expert that specializes in growth. A growth marketer will utilize tactics that are designed to promote brand engagement over the long-term.

Growth hacking is not actually about marketing at all. Growth hackers utilize engineering techniques to "hack" their way to a solution that provides a nearly instantaneous return.

With regard to who you might want for your team, you will want to make sure that your marketing team includes people that thoroughly understand branding and business growth principles.

As far as getting immediate traction for your products or services, you might want a UX engineer that has experience with growth hacking to help spread the word about your company in an exponential manner.

I would be happy to continue the conversation to help you develop your team.

Answered 9 years ago

The title is not that important. The skill sets are. Just make sure your job description lists out very cleary what the candidate must have mastery over to be considered for the position. The right person would probably read the job posting if it had either title listed.

Answered 10 years ago

I haven't heard of the term 'Growth Marketer'. Silicon Valley seems to be full of buzz words, but essentially it's the difference between macro and micro perspective. A growth marketer likely works more strategically where as *generally* growth hackers work on specific pain points and challenges.

This is a gross generalisation because pure growth hacking should be a very strategic thing but the term is often mis-used.

What you should always start with is macro perspective i.e. Strategy.

This is my area of expertise so feel free to give me a call and I can work through the whole thing with you.

If you inbox me, i'll send you a link for a free call.

Answered 10 years ago

Good question. The first thing is you need to define what it is you really need. The title is less important and not universal anyway. In general it may be a person with marketing and technical abilities. There is a big difference if they come from one or the other. Other people may just have an ability to create new models that get faster results. If your startup needs this "growth hacking" on the technical side make that clear to attract the right person. For most, I think the strategy and marketing side is more useful since people have been hugely successful with mediocre products if positioned right. Feel free to contact me to talk about your project.

Answered 10 years ago

“Growth” is the key word in both the terms you have used- “Growth Hacker” and “Growth Marketer”. So, before we go into the difference any further, we will understand growth.
A growth story begins with “Growth Mindset”. A growth mindset, as opposed a fixed mindset, describes the underlying belief that people have about learning and intelligence. If people realise that the effort of learning makes them smarter and that this ultimately leads to higher achievements, then they put the effort in. They will understand that they can develop themselves. Like EQ, growth mindset is about attitude and belief. Carol Dweck, a leading researcher in the field of growth mindset, shows the power of our most basic beliefs. Whether conscious or subconscious, they strongly affect what we want and whether we succeed in getting something. Much of what we think we understand of our personality comes from our “mindset.” This both propels us and prevents us from fulfilling our potential. Successful people want to improve every day. They want to constantly better themselves, whether that is in a hobby or at work, or any area of interest. They are keen learners, those that move forward courageously and fearlessly. The one weakness most people have is not taking a step forward and being courageous. In more practical terms, a growth mindset to me is when you start monitoring your impact on your environment, see how people react towards you and then you adjust your behaviour. A growth mindset leads to innovation. Innovations have become backbone for the start-ups and entrepreneurs world-wide.
Innovation is defined by Kanter (1983) as involving ‘creative use as well as original invention’ and simply it is defined by Mellor (2005) as ‘creativity plus application’ or ‘invention plus application’. But people do confuse the term “innovation” with another term “invention”. The distinction between invention and innovation was originally owed to Schumpeter and has since become part of economic theory. Freeman and Soete add, ‘an invention are an idea, a sketch or a model for a new improved device, product, process or system. Such inventions may often (not always) be patented but they do not necessarily lead to technical innovations’. Also, ‘the chain of events from invention or specification to social application is often longer and hazardous’.
Now we come to the both the terms of “Growth Hacker” and “Growth Marketer”. The job of a growth hacker is generally to acquire as many users or customers as possible while spending as little as possible. A growth hacking team is made up of marketers, developers, engineers, and product managers that specifically focus on building and engaging the user base of a business. Growth hacking is particularly prevalent with start-ups, when the goal is finding product/market-fit or achieving rapid growth in the early-stages of launching a new product or service to market. Those who specialize in growth hacking use various types of marketing and product iterations to rapidly test persuasive copy, email marketing, SEO and viral strategies, among other tools and techniques, with a goal of increasing conversion rates and achieving rapid growth of the user base. Therefore, growth hacking has no scope for invention but innovation. Growth Marketing is the process of designing and conducting experiments to optimize and improve the results of a target area. If you have a certain metric you want to increase, growth marketing is a method you can utilize to achieve that. Growth marketers use the scientific method to design and carry out these experiments. Within an organization, growth marketing is an analytically minded function that focuses more on the data side of marketing than the creative aspects. Thus, there is a scope of invention in the growth marketing and not innovation.
I have worked with companies that did hire both growth marketers and growth hackers. If you want to encourage invention in your company growth marketers are the best option available for you but if you encourage innovation growth hackers will help you to a great extent.
Besides if you do have any questions contact me:

Answered 4 years ago

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