Thank You for Practicing What You Preach, Ryan Holiday

Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 10.38.55 AMIf you haven’t heard of Ryan Holiday and Growth Hacker Marketing yet, please allow me to be your first introduction. I just finished listening to his audio book and found it to be both concise and useful – two things not typically true of trendy marketing books.

According to Ryan, a growth hacker has thrown out the old marketing playbook (i.e. traditional PR and advertising) and replaced it with tools that are “testable, trackable, and scalable.” A growth hacker builds marketing directly into a product or business model, so that the business literally sells itself.

Growth hacking requires:

  • A product that is modifiable – so that it can be tweaked repeatedly to meet the exact needs of its target market
  • A market that wants the product/service/business model and has been primed for it (thought this may be a very tiny, specific group of people at first)
  • A built-in growth mechanism – some way that the product/service/business model can spread from customer to customer, without relying solely on traditional marketing tools

(Note: I’d avoid Wikipedia’s definition of Growth Hacking – at press time, I personally found it to be pretty convoluted)

Here is what I loved about Ryan’s book:

First, Ryan practices what he preaches. Not only does he clearly layout several case studies to illustrate how growth hacking has worked in various industries, he also uses the book itself as a case study. He takes time to explain how the book was developed and how he has modified it after its first publication to perfectly fit his audience. And then he ASKS FOR YOUR BUSINESS, giving you ways to both learn more and share what you’ve learned with your colleagues. This is not an afterthought or a pre-launch splash page developed by an agency… he thoughtfully (and unabashedly) puts growth hacking into practice. Talk about earning my respect. It makes me think of all the other marketing authors who preach about new marketing tactics and then launch their books using the traditional publishing model. How were we ever able to take them seriously?

Second, Ryan defines his terms almost to a fault. He clearly defines every single jargon-y word he uses throughout the book and then follows it up with a glossary at the end. I walked away thinking that if I was a 20-something marketing professional, I’d use the glossary as a cheat sheet to study for job interviews. Growth hacking is the future of marketing in many industries, and it is critical that we understand the vocabulary for the change.

Of all the industries and business models he touches on in the book, he doesn’t mention any of the really REALLY traditional ones like the airline, car, or beer industries. I’d love to hear his thoughts on how growth hacking could look in those spaces… if at all.

Are you familiar with Growth Hacking? Do you think it is here to stay, or just another trend?

Learn more:

Take Ryan’s course at


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