I was reading the book Growth Hacker Marketing by Ryan Holiday (whose book Trust Me, I’m Lying is a must-read on the state of PR and journalism today).
And I came across this passage that made me absolutely livid (I’ll explain why in a minute)…
“Deep down, traditional marketers have always considered themselves artists. That’s fine — it’s an image I aspired to myself. It’s a sentiment responsible for spectacular and moving work. But this sentiment is also responsible for some appalling ignorance and waste. One Harvard Business Review study found that 80 percent of marketers are unhappy with their ability to measure marketing return on investment (ROI). Not because the tools aren’t good enough, but because they’re too good, and marketers are seeing for the first time that their marketing strategies are ‘often flawed and their spending is inefficient.’
“… What growth hackers do is focus on the ‘who’ and ‘where’ more scientifically, in a more measurable way. Whereas marketing was once brand based, with growth hacking it becomes metric and ROI driven. Suddenly, finding customers and getting attention for your product become no longer a guessing game.”
So why the heck would this make me upset?
I mean, after all, this is what I preach, right?
Here’s what pisses me off. This book, written and published in 2013 is pitching this like it’s a NEW idea.
Now let me quote another book… Scientific Advertising.
“The time has come when advertising has in some hands reached the status of a science. It is based on fixed principles and is reasonably exact. The causes and effects have been analyzed until they are well understood. The correct method of procedure have been proved and established. We know what is most effective, and we act on basic law. Advertising, once a gamble, has thus become, under able direction, one of the safest business ventures. Certainly no other enterprise with comparable possibilities need involve so little risk.
“Therefore, this book deals, not with theories and opinions, but with well-proved principles and facts. It is written as a text book for students and a safe guide for advertisers. Every statement has been weighed. The book is confined to establish fundamentals. If we enter any realms of uncertainty we shall carefully denote them.”
This book was first published in 1923! 90 years before Ryan Holiday’s Growth Hacker Marketing. And it says the exact same thing.
That marketing and advertising isn’t a guessing game anymore.
That everything can be measured.
And with measurement, tested.
You can figure out what works, and what doesn’t.
Advertising is no longer about entertainment or wild-ass guesses, but about science and proven principles.
And — gasp! — it’s about selling!
Scientific Advertising wasn’t the first book about the discipline that’s now become DIRECT RESPONSE MARKETING. But it’s certainly one of the earlier ones. And it’s become a bible of sorts for folks who want to apply these proven principles.
And now we have 90+ years experience, building on this fundamental realization. That you don’t have to entertain or guess with advertising. That you can use it to generate business results. And everything can be measured and tracked.
90+ years of proven principles.
90+ years of experience to know what works.
Today, growth hackers are just figuring out that you can do this.
They think they’re cutting edge. But they’re 90+ years behind!
So, if you’re running a business and you have someone working for you who has adopted the flavor-of-the-day title of “Growth Hacker” … FIRE THEM!
Hire a direct marketer instead.
Make sure they’ve read Scientific Advertising a few times over.
Make sure they know who folks like Claude Hopkins and Vic Schwab and John Caples and David Ogilvy and Gary Halbert and all the recent legends are.
And you’ll find yourself 90+ years ahead of growth hackers in terms of the proven principles we know work in marketing.
And make sure you’re subscribed to my Breakthrough Marketing Secrets daily email updates.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
Editor, Breakthrough Marketing Secrets