The Dark Side of Growth Hacking

Depending on the circles you frequent, the word "hack" takes on some wildly different meanings...

Hack definition(s):

  • A writer or journalist producing dull, unoriginal work

  • A horse for ordinary riding

  • A rough cut, blow, or stroke

  • A piece of computer code providing a quick or inelegant solution to a particular problem

…and my personal favourite: Hack: a board on which a hawk's meat is laid.

And so, to the point… you wouldn’t necessarily call any of these positive? Yet, we’re seeing a meteoric rise in the prominence of ‘growth-hacking’ content across social media.

LinkedIn: ‘Growth hacking’ 28,396 results Instagram: #growthhacking 369,000 posts Google: ‘growth hacks’. 59,500,000 results. Wow.


Promises of miraculous, lightning-fast and pain-free solutions to your deepest growth challenge has people flocking to the next piece of magical content peddling the next revolutionary ‘hack’.

This culture of quick-fixes is commanding your attention with promises of overnight transformations. But here’s the kicker: you won’t ‘hack’ your way to success.

There’s no silver bullet, the Easter bunny isn’t real, it’s fugazzi… You get the picture.

I’d like to position a balanced counter-argument.

Growth ‘hacking’ is toxic for business progression.

It sets unrealistic expectations and births a culture of expectancy. You begin hacking your way through temporary cures, neglecting the solid foundations of a measurable and thoughtful growth strategy.

What’s more, is that these ‘hacks’ are rarely industry/vertical specific. Herein lies the danger. The world of B2B sales is hugely complex. One industry’s golden goose of marketing is another’s money pit.

The ‘silver bullet’ effect turns your considered and objective nature in one that’s content with consuming the recycled mush of some lazy marketeer’s creative hangover.

Growth hack werewolf
"What do you mean it didn't work?"

Soon, your business is buried so deep beneath the cloak of ‘hack’ that you lose sight of the things that are actually making a difference. In short, you can’t see the woods through the…well, hack.

Don’t get me wrong, a lot of these ‘hacks’ are legitimate mechanisms to drive growth. However more often than not, putting ‘hack’ in a post title is nothing more than a cheap click-bait tactic designed to target those looking for a cheat code.

Let’s face it: “Multi-faceted, business-appropriate strategies to implement measurably over time in order to drive sustainable and considered growth,’ doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.

The clue’s in the name. Stop Hacking.

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