Join Brad Batesole for an in-depth discussion in this video Consider walking the gray line, part of Marketing Foundations: Growth Hacking.
The marketing landscape can often be viewed as those who operate above-board, and those who operate below it. An above-board marketing approach puts the users best interest in mind. It's transparent and free from gimmick. Below-board is just the opposite. Linkedin stepped into a below-board marketing tactic when they started automatically sending out email endorsements. When a user signed up, they could import their contact list to jump-start their network. Little did they know Linkedin would then send repetitive and spammy emails from that new user to any contact not yet signed up.
It generated growth, but at the expense of the new user's reputation. Sending out spam is below-board, but it's effective and that's why some brands continue to do it. If you don't have a brand image to protect, and you operate within the legal requirements, why not leverage it? If we're being truthful about the landscape, it's not just above and below-board. Right in the middle is a gray area that can hold lucrative opportunities. As the landscape shifts, so do the rules and this gray area moves with it. A good example is to look at search engine optimization.
In the early days, a gray area technique was to pad your site full of keywords, hiding the text at the bottom of the page. It wasn't wrong, but at some point Google started penalizing those who engaged in this practice. That gray area moved into a below-board marketing technique. But for awhile, that technique worked, and people took advantage of it in such a way that they mowed down their competition. If they stayed in tune to the changing landscape, they would have removed the spam-style tactic from their site before it was considered below-board.
As a business, you have to decide if you want to operate in the gray area. A lot of growth hackers find impressive success by skirting the rules. Are you looking for a short-term gain, or a long-term strategy? There's nothing wrong with a short-term win. An authentic, highly credible brand, with an incredible product can still operate in this gray area without feeling guilty. And the gray area doesn't have to sound so much like spam. Remember the example of Airbnb reverse engineering Craig's List? That was a gray area. I doubt that had any negative impact on their brand, except for maybe upsetting Craig's List.
What I'm really getting at here is the need to perhaps explore the gray area. Is there a loophole you can take advantage of? Is there an opportunity that can be leveraged because nobody has expressly forbid the action? It's up to you to evaluate the tactics that might push the boundaries. Just remember that the landscape shifts quickly, and you never want to be caught on the wrong side of the fence.
The course concludes with growth-hacking case studies, highlighting the growth-hacking techniques that helped propel such companies as Airbnb, Uber, and Tinder to explosive growth.
- What is growth hacking?
- Understanding the funnel
- Setting up tracking and analytics
- Leveraging customers and existing users
- Testing ideas
- Generating an audience
- Creating an incentive strategy
- Real-world examples of successful growth hacking