Diffusion of Innovations

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Startups live and die by their ability to drive customer acquisition growth. Of course many startups are doomed to failure and can’t grow because they never reach product/market fit. But even with product/market fit, traction is tough. Startups are under extreme resource constraints and need to figure out how to break through the noise to let their target customers know they have a superior solution for a critical problem. Breaking through the noise is very difficult when well-entrenched companies have the resources to dominate traditional channels. The best a startup can hope for in traditional channels is to siphon off a few early adopters that are always on the look out for the latest emerging solutions. This…show more content…
You couldn’t watch Jeopardy or Wheel of Fortune on TV without knowing that they offered the game play experience online for cash prizes. And those shows had massive audiences. At Uproar, we tried to spend on banner advertising, but even with obsessive optimization it was clear we would never catch them playing by their rules. That’s when we decided to widgetize parts of our game play experience and make them free for any website. We even offered to pay an affiliate bounty to those websites where people started the game and eventually played on our site. These games spread virally to 40,000 websites. Within a couple of years we were beating the 800-pound gorilla and had become the worldwide leader in online games (we were acquired by Vivendi Universal in 2001 who quickly killed the viral widget program). Stories like this have been replicated in every startup that I helped build, from LogMeIn to Dropbox and Lookout. You can also see similar patterns in the early days of almost any massively successful company to emerge in recent years. How Traditional Marketers Have Reacted To Growth Hacking The majority of traditional marketers like to say “that’s exactly what I’ve been doing – that’s just marketing.” But rarely do I see any of them having a track record of building truly innovative, rule changing programs for driving growth. Most just don’t have the need or
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