Why Is This Seasoned Marketer Teaching Himself Growth Hacking and How You Can To

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Growth-Hacker-vs-SEOI am a marketer. My job is to assign meaning to things. I turn widgets into solutions. I don’t create products, I create perceptions. My job is to communicate value. So, why am I teaching myself programming? More importantly, how am I teaching myself programming? and most importantly, Why do I believe this is the only way to avoid becoming obsolete?

Growth Hacking is a term that I always rejected. It’s a fancy word technologists use to discuss ways to use technology to stimulate massive growth. As a marketer, I have been instructing programmers to build things for me and my clients that stimulate growth a long time.

I am a marketer, my job is to identify where my target market is, what their frame of mind is when they have purchase intent, and join the conversation. This means finding the right audience. finding the right media, and crafting the right message.

Today, the right media for massive growth is technology platforms. These platforms have hundreds of millions of users, and enable you to build on top of their technology to engage your target audience and make it easy for them to communicate with others through you, and more importantly share your app with them. Facebook is the classic example, they have a platform for the social graph that you can plug into, and if you use growth hacking properly, your users with communicate with their friends and other users through your app. Basically you are leveraging someone elses audience to bypass all the hard work in growing a brand from the ground up. The holy grail is going viral. This doesn’t happen by accident, you need to make it as easy as possible for others to share your brand.

The old version of growth hacking, before the internet was buying direct mail lists. Did you know that you can buy a list of all the people who read a magazine, and send a letter to them promoting your product? Did you know you can combine lists or filter them to create the perfect super list? SRDS.com is where the smart marketers go to find print platforms to leverage for growth.

The new version is building inherent sharing and communication through other platforms and more importantly building engagement around all the information available within that platform.

This is accomplished through an API, which is basically a series of instructions a programmer can use to get information from another site, like who your friends are on facebook, or Put data in facebook, which is basically posting an invitation to farmville on your wall. They can also put and delete data, which enables them to manage the information they take and use from the platform.

Where growth hacking gets super complicated is in the testing strategies, analyzing data, and working with websites that don’t want you to post information on it. For example, AirBNB lets you post your listing on craiglist, which they had to build and trick craigslist into letting them do this.

So, if advertising was how you communicated a message with your target audience, Growth Hacking is building the communication tool for your users to message your target audience. 

Why pay to advertise if you can get users to do it for free with just some code requesting information from a website and than posting information to that website, etc…

Now, growth hacking is much more involved than this, but it’s basically where programming meets marketing. Marketers feel threatened by this because it implies programmers can better identify your audience, and reach them. Programmers in general are skeptical of marketers and believe a product should sell itself. Of course both are wrong, and you need great marketers working together with programmers to really figure out all the way to leverage websites that are platforms into super sized growth.

As a more progressive marketer, with a semi-technical background, I have been mapping out growth hacks and paying someone to build them ever since Facebook rolled out their API. My secret weapon is https://ProgrammableWeb.com which is a database of all the different API’s that exist, and lots lots more.

Today, CodeAcademy changed the game for me for good. They rolled out a bunch of courses to teach yourself how to write code that communicates with API’s. They started with a list of a bunch of great API’s. I am currently learning Twilio’s API using Ruby on Rails. It is so simple I wonder why I never learned this sooner.

Bottom line, as a marketer, I have no choice but to cross the line and become a coder so I can adapt to this changing landscape where everything in our lives will have an API and with my background in marketing, and a better understanding of the uses, limitations and most importantly the possibilities of what can be done when the entire world is your playground.

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About David Melamed

David Melamed is the Founder of Tenfold Traffic, a search and content marketing agency with over $50,000,000 of paid search experience and battle tested results in content development, premium content promotion and distribution, Link Profile Analysis, Multinational/Multilingual PPC and SEO, and Direct Response Copywriting.


  1. I agree that it’s very smart to add “growth hacking” to your skillset. Despite how daunting coding can be, it might be easier to learn coding as a seasoned marketer then to learn to market as a developer. This is the situation I’m currently in, having spent the last 4 years building karmaCRM, it’s now time to grow this thing and get the word out. I’ve been reading everything I can about growth hacking and trying to prioritize strategies.

    It’s a very fun space but there’s so much discussion about what “growth hacking” actually means, so it’s hard to boil it down and prioritize. Glad I found your blog and looking forward to reading more.


  1. […] Tweet TweetI am a marketer. My job is to assign meaning to things. I turn widgets into solutions. I don’t create products, I create perceptions. My job is to communicate value. So, why am I teaching myself programming?  […]

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