Learn How to Growth Hack and Market a Best-Selling Book with from Ryan Holiday

Posted by Anant January 14, 2023

Ryan talks to us about his new book, how he discovered growth hacking, and what traditional marketers and growth hackers can learn from each other. He also knows a few things about marketing a best-selling book, which he discloses.


→ His first exposure to the notion of growth hacking

→ How he discovered growth hacking

→ What traditional marketers and growth hackers can learn from each other

→ He knows a few things about marketing a best-selling book, which he discloses

→ How growth hacking kind of relates to traditional marketing

→ His insights about the similarities and differences of the two worlds

→ How does he define product market fit

→ And a whole lot more


Ryan’s Personal Website

His Amazon Profile



Bronson: Welcome to another episode of Growth Hacker TV. I’m Bronson Taylor and today I have Ryan Holiday with us. Ryan, thanks for coming on the show.

Ryan: Yeah, thanks for having me. This is very cool.

Bronson: Yeah, absolutely. Now, Ryan, for the people that don’t know, you’re the director of marketing for American Apparel, a little company they might have heard of. You’re the bestselling author of Trust Me, I’m Lying. You’ve also marketed other books to become bestsellers. And without you, they may not have been. I’ll leave it at that for now. And you also have a new book out called Growth Hacker Marketing, which is really the first, I think, book on growth hacking put out by a major publisher. Is that right?

Ryan: Yeah, I think so. That was the that was the.

Ryan: Goal with writing it for.

Bronson: Sure. Yeah. It came out just a few days ago. I got to read through a lot of it. It’s a great kind of primer on the topic, but we’ll talk about more of that. But first, I want to know, what was your first exposure to the notion of growth hacking? How did it get on your radar? Because you’re a really successful kind of marketer, a traditional marketer. Where did you learn about growth hacking from?

Ryan: Yeah. So a few years ago, a.

Ryan: Friend of mine introduced me.

Ryan: To two.

Ryan: Writers.

Ryan: Andrew Chan and Jessie Farmer.

Ryan: Jessie doesn’t write as much anymore, but there’s a great.

Ryan: Site called 20 bits. Andrew Chan I think it’s just.

Ryan: Andrew Chan Dot com or.

Ryan: Something like that.

Ryan: And so I was reading, I’d been reading their stuff for a number of years. It was always like so always very well-written and very interesting.

Ryan: But it was sort of about like stuff that had nothing to do with me.

Ryan: You know, I’m the director of marketing at American Apparel. It’s very.

Ryan: It’s not a traditional company, but it it’s it’s old school.

Ryan: Traditional marketing.

Ryan: Like, you know, fashion.

Ryan: Magazines, parties.

Ryan: You know, samples that that sort of stuff. And and so, you know, I read.

Ryan: It was always interesting.

Ryan: It was just like, you know, keeping up on what’s going on. And then one day I went in the office and I Andrew had a new ad saying it was called, you know.

Ryan: Growth Hackers or the New.

Ryan: VP of Marketing. And it was the first one. It was the first.

Ryan: Article that he’d written that.

Ryan: Sort of like really.

Ryan: Stopped me cold because it was like I was who he was.

Ryan: Talking about. Like I was that VP of marketing.

Ryan: And you know, when you read something like that first, like.

Ryan: Oh, this is this is for everyone but me, this is an account. And as.

Ryan: I’m reading this article, it just sort of it rocked my very foundations as a marketer because it was.

Ryan: It was saying all the things that I’d spent a number.

Ryan: Of years trying to get really.

Ryan: Good at. We’re totally irrelevant.

Ryan: And had.

Ryan: Not at all been used.

Ryan: To build this group of billion.

Ryan: Dollar brands right.

Ryan: In front of us.

Ryan: And that’s what.

Ryan: Really drew me.

Ryan: Down the rabbit hole of growth hacking and then and ultimately culminated in the book.

Bronson: Yeah, that’s great. And a lot of people we have on the show, they kind of start from the analytics side of thing, the data side of thing, and then they arrive at growth hacking. A lot of them are engineers. You kind of come from the other side of the spectrum, from the marketing side. So that’s why I really want to kind of shape this interview around that perspective, because you’re going to have views that other people just don’t have access to right now. So let’s talk about how growth hacking kind of relates to traditional marketing. What do you see as maybe the similarities and the differences of the two worlds?

Ryan: Yeah. So I think the biggest.

Ryan: Similarity is that marketing.

Ryan: Tends to be something that someone else does.

Ryan: For you.

Ryan: So even in American Apparel, it’s like there’s.

Ryan: All the people that are making.

Ryan: All this stuff, there’s the creative people, and then it kind of then when it’s ready.

Ryan: To be marketed.

Ryan: It gets passed to us. Or when I represent clients, their thing is done and now they’re ready to start thinking.

Ryan: About marketing and growth hacking from from my research and my understanding.

Ryan: What I what I think.

Ryan: Initially drew me to it and.

Ryan: I found so attractive is that that distinction doesn’t exist.

Ryan: There’s not a marketing department.

Ryan: At these companies. There is just the company and they’re making things. And it’s almost.

Ryan: Because they don’t like.

Ryan: Marketing. They’re trying to.

Ryan: Think of ways that bacon early on make it less and less necessary. And and, you know, as.

Ryan: A marketer, I personally.

Ryan: Found that it’s like sometimes my job would.

Ryan: Be really.

Ryan: Easy and sometimes.

Ryan: It would be really hard. And the only difference would.

Ryan: Be the quality of the product and its, its fit with.

Ryan: What people actually.

Ryan: Wanted or.

Ryan: Were willing to talk about. So it’s like I had sort of, I sort of when I read what product market fit was for the first time.

Ryan: I instantly knew.

Ryan: That I’d known.

Ryan: About it for a long.

Ryan: Time because that was.

Ryan: The difference between these projects that would blow up with a little bit of marketing work.

Ryan: Versus these ones that I would have to.

Ryan: Pitch and pitch and pitch and never get.

Ryan: Traction. And so I think.

Ryan: Marketers intuitively understand.

Ryan: The concept of growth hacking and perhaps why it’s so attractive is that it instead of instead of just hoping that you get good things, a growth hacker says, well, I can be involved and.

Ryan: I can actually build the marketing into the product.

Ryan: Itself.

Bronson: Yeah, absolutely. Now, do you see any similarities between the two worlds? Because it’s very fashionable to talk about the differences. They’re about what’s different. Do they have any similar goals in your in your mind?

Ryan: Well, I think they definitely have similar goals.

Ryan: Which is to, you know, like.

Ryan: Bring customers.

Ryan: In. Obviously. I think the.

Ryan: Problem is that marketing.

Ryan: Sometimes thinks that marketing is in and of itself a goal.

Ryan: So you want to get attention or you want to get awareness, whereas a growth hacker says those are a means.

Ryan: To an end.

Ryan: You know, marketing.

Ryan: Because.

Ryan: It’s 100 plus years old, this sort of modern marketing industry.

Ryan: It’s it’s become good for its own sake, you know, and that’s where things like vanity metrics come in. So I think, yes, at their.

Ryan: Core, they’re.

Ryan: Identical. But it’s that one has a lot of baggage and and assumptions and.

Ryan: History.

Ryan: That can often get in the way of what the.

Ryan: True goal is, which is, you know.

Ryan: Growing the product.

Ryan: Yeah. No one is spending.

Ryan: Money on marketing to not grow their product.

Bronson: Yeah, the goals are the same. The means are very different. Yeah. Let me ask you this. Is there anything that a marketer can learn from a growth hacker without necessarily becoming one? I don’t know if that question would make sense, but is there anything they can take away from this discussion as a marketer?

Ryan: Yeah, of course.

Ryan: Like, look, if you’re if you’re in the marketing department at Visa.

Ryan: I don’t think.

Ryan: You throw out everything and just become a growth hacker because.

Ryan: There’s a lot of what you do.

Ryan: That.

Ryan: Institutionally is important for your job.

Ryan: So put aside whether that’s good or bad, it’s just like, look, marketing is what it is and sometimes that’s your job. But I think what I like about growth hacking is that it seems to me that it was invented. To exist right now.

Ryan: Whereas a lot of what we do in.

Ryan: Marketing.

Ryan: Was.

Ryan: Like, for instance, the press release.

Ryan: Was invented.

Ryan: Around World War.

Ryan: One based on the.

Ryan: The media environment.

Ryan: And sort of population concerns.

Ryan: At that time it was like, okay.

Ryan: How do we.

Ryan: Communicate to this growing population?

Ryan: We’ll write a release.

Ryan: And we’ll give it to the media and then it’ll.

Ryan: Get printed essentially as it is and will reach millions of people.

Ryan: So that’s great. And it worked really well, and that’s.

Ryan: Why Edward Bernays and people like that became very famous. But today we’re still writing press.

Ryan: Releases, even though we live in a.

Ryan: Drastically different media.

Ryan: Environment. And so.

Ryan: What I like about growth hacking, and I think what we can learn at its core is.

Ryan: People who didn’t.

Ryan: See themselves as.

Ryan: Marketers were trying to do marketing.

Ryan: And trying to essentially invent, like not.

Ryan: Knowing what they were doing.

Ryan: Had to like invent it again, almost like how like.

Ryan: You’ll hear.

Ryan: About like length languages, like sign language has been independently, been developed in a few different isolated places.

Ryan: And it’s very similar. Those languages are very similar.

Ryan: But distinct.

Ryan: And growth hacking is marketing.

Ryan: Reinvented in the 2000 for the media environment and the world of the 2000. And I think.

Ryan: That’s where the real.

Bronson: Lessons are. Yeah, I like that a lot. I like the way you see that. Now, let me ask you kind of a controversial question, at least for this audience. What can growth hackers learn from the more traditional marketers? Marketers, because a lot of times they want to downplay the past. Maybe I should. I don’t know. What do you think? Is there something there?

Ryan: There’s obviously a lot to learn. And I think some of the political.

Ryan: And institutional concerns are.

Ryan: Some of that, too, where it’s like when when growth occurs are talking about how they do all these things without spending money. And then it’s like, okay.

Ryan: But you’re also running companies that have revenues that are a fraction of.

Ryan: The size of your small staff of these big companies. So it’s like.

Ryan: If your.

Ryan: The idea of.

Ryan: Building a.

Ryan: Brand.

Ryan: Is.

Ryan: Important, I think.

Ryan: David Ogilvy was.

Ryan: Saying he’s like, look, when.

Ryan: Products get more and more similar.

Ryan: Like when the distinct.

Ryan: Differences between products.

Ryan: Are less, that’s when.

Ryan: Marketing and branding.

Ryan: Becomes valuable. And so it’s like growth hacking makes sense.

Ryan: Especially when you’re inventing.

Ryan: Something totally new. But as your.

Ryan: Marketplace gets more.

Ryan: Crowded, you have to understand some of these things like branding. So it’s like, what’s the difference.

Ryan: Between one insurance company and another?

Ryan: It’s not much, and that’s when things like branding come into play. So I think these these big companies have gotten.

Ryan: Good at understanding.

Ryan: That and the things that they do.

Ryan: Albeit more expensive, address those concerns. And I think growth hackers, you know, if you’re starting a startup tomorrow, maybe you don’t need to worry about that. But if you’re at the growth.

Ryan: Team at Facebook, which is now $1,000,000,000 almost blue chip company, you’re going to have to think about that a little bit more.

Bronson: Yeah. And do you think that the future companies that are successful will essentially do both? They’re going to have marketing, they’re going to have branding, they’re going to have all the press releases and PR like normal. But then they also have teams and people dedicated to growth hacking. Do you kind of see it being that way?

Ryan: Yeah, totally. It’s like, look, I think that like 2009 or 2010, Facebook’s advertising budget was like $8 million. It’s going to be.

Ryan: Like $100 million this year. People don’t understand how.

Ryan: Tough it is to spend $100 million like at some point. Like, that’s all of like that’s so many billions of online ad impressions that you have to start doing things like parties and and celebrities and stuff like that. And so I think that the the digital scalable stuff is certainly going to continue as it is. And then as these brands, you know, like, let’s say tomorrow there.

Ryan: Is a PR crisis.

Ryan: At Facebook.

Ryan: You’re not going to be able to growth hack.

Ryan: Your way out of that. That’s you’re going to need to.

Ryan: Utilize media channels.

Ryan: And sort of start to.

Ryan: Tell your media narrative.

Ryan: Somewhat differently. And that’s that’s going to be a skill that growth.

Ryan: Backers.

Ryan: Are going to want to look to.

Ryan: Traditional marketers for, to understand.

Ryan: Why and how those two skills exist, but then hopefully come up with new and better ways to do it without the baggage and and bloated, you know, history that a lot of that has as well.

Bronson: Yeah. Now, let’s talk about the book a little bit. It’s a short book. It gives you kind of four phases of growth hacking based on your research. And it really sums it up nicely. And I want to talk through each phase of the book. The first one is you mentioned your already product market fit. So how do you define product market fit? And then also, why is that the first step? Why is it so fundamental to everything else?

Ryan: Yeah. So what I, what I tried to do in the book too is I so I was reading all.

Ryan: This stuff about growth hacking and I found that it was like.

Ryan: It was very hard to get introduced to it.

Ryan: So it’s like.

Ryan: You hear that growth hacking is important and you.

Ryan: Should know about it. And then all the stuff is about technically how to implement growth hacking.

Ryan: Which is great. But if you’re.

Ryan: You know.

Ryan: If you’re working at a Fortune 500 company and you’re trying to figure it.

Ryan: Out, that’s you don’t know.

Ryan: You don’t have an opportunity to.

Ryan: Implement it this way. So I.

Ryan: Wanted to sort of go.

Ryan: Through the mindset and. More than the toolkit, which I think is, is Aaron Jan’s line.

Ryan: But the first part is the most crucial part, which is.

Ryan: You know, you have to make stuff that people want and you have to make it in a way that that’s conducive to what those needs and wants are. And so I think.

Ryan: Product.

Ryan: Market fit comes before everything. This isn’t.

Ryan: Like a new thought or anything.

Ryan: But it’s like you.

Ryan: People, people think.

Ryan: About marketing first or they.

Ryan: Think about it last.

Ryan: When really they should.

Ryan: Think about it concurrently with.

Ryan: What they’re.

Ryan: Doing. So it’s like, I’ve got.

Ryan: This really.

Ryan: Good idea, or so I think now I should test that idea and make it the best and most.

Ryan: Spreadable and shareable.

Ryan: Version of that idea.

Ryan: And ideally, I.

Ryan: Should do it. I think in in a small, iterative way. So like I like the example of Instagram, which started as a geolocation social network. If if.

Ryan: Instagram had started.

Ryan: With a $10 million advertising.

Ryan: Campaign or sorry, if.

Ryan: Instagram had launched Bourbon with a $10 Million.

Ryan: Instagram or Bourbon with a.

Ryan: $10 million.

Ryan: Advertising.

Ryan: Campaign.

Ryan: There’s no way they would have pivoted and become a totally different company.

Ryan: And made.

Ryan: Literally.

Ryan: Billions of dollars because the the cognitive dissonance would have been too high. The sunk cost.

Ryan: Fallacy would be there.

Ryan: It just it would have been too much to change. But because they started small, they brought in a few thousand.

Ryan: Customers instead of a million customers, they were able to actually respond.

Ryan: To that feedback. And then when.

Ryan: You look at.

Ryan: These growth hacking startups.

Ryan: I think at.

Ryan: Their core, it’s not the growth hacking that.

Ryan: Made them successful. It was that they.

Ryan: Were an amazing product for a group of.

Ryan: People who don’t normally get amazing products, and that’s why they were so explosive. The rest is just, you know, directing that explosion.

Ryan: In the right.

Ryan: The right way.

Bronson: Absolutely. One of the ways I’ve thought about it is product market fit. It’s a necessary condition for growth, but maybe not sufficient. There’s a lot of things that are good products that can grow, but you can’t grow without a good product.

Ryan: No, totally.

Ryan: You can’t.

Ryan: The best marketer in the world like.

Ryan: People look at me and they’re like, Oh, you’ve.

Ryan: Done these bestselling books. Can you make my book a bestseller? And it’s like.

Ryan: Only if you’ve written a potential bestseller.

Ryan: Yeah. Then I can. Then I can help make that happen.

Bronson: Yeah, that’s a great way to sum it up. And then the second thing after product market fit is what you call finding your growth hack. So what kinds of growth hacks are we talking about here? What are some of the ones maybe you mentioned in your book?

Ryan: Yeah. So what I like about growth.

Ryan: Hackers, too, is like so a marketer says like, okay, how can we get customers?

Ryan: And the answers are press releases.

Ryan: Advertisements are like publicity and like a launch party. And that’s.

Ryan: It. Those are the only.

Ryan: Ways we’re allowed.

Ryan: To get.

Ryan: Customer growth.

Ryan: Hacker is like, okay, we just got to get customers. Like.

Ryan: We got to get a couple thousand people.

Ryan: And it.

Ryan: Doesn’t matter if I have to.

Ryan: Call them all individually and invite them myself. You know, like a growth hacker says, like growth.

Ryan: Matters or growth.

Ryan: Is the end. And growth and whatever that.

Ryan: Means are we don’t care. So that’s what I really like about growth hacking.

Ryan: But I think some of the most compelling examples, we’re not we’re not bound by me, but there.

Ryan: Are great.

Ryan: You know it are PayPal building itself on eBay Airbnb building itself on Craigslist. I think.

Ryan: What a growth hacker.

Ryan: Does is it finds a platform that’s under.

Ryan: Utilized or under exploited.

Ryan: And then it designs itself around benefiting from the late and power of that platform. Upworthy, you know, blowing up by taking advantage of the Facebook feed is another.

Ryan: Great.

Ryan: Example. It’s just.

Ryan: Anyone who see is like, hey, people aren’t taking full advantage.

Ryan: Of this new thing yet. Let’s do that. To me, that’s growth hacking. And I think it’s.

Ryan: One problem with.

Ryan: Growth hacking.

Ryan: Though, is people tend to look at those.

Ryan: Examples and they they see those examples as being things you should emulate rather than being like boxes that have been checked and therefore are not available to you. And like.

Ryan: If I was launching.

Ryan: A website, I.

Ryan: Wouldn’t try to use the Facebook.

Ryan: Feed because BuzzFeed, Huffington Post and.

Ryan: Upworthy.

Ryan: Have already dominated that space. I’m going to go try to find something else.

Bronson: Yeah. And that goes back to what you said, the Erin Jenn quote that it’s a mindset, not just a tactic because it’s a mindset. You can see the box is checked, but the mindset is going to find the box is not checked.

Ryan: Right? It’s like, okay, you guys found these.

Ryan: Platforms and got millions of users from it. What’s my platform and what am I going to and.

Ryan: How are we going to.

Ryan: Fully take advantage of that? And when you do it, you see that it’s super powerful. And that’s so I think that’s probably the second most important step.

Bronson: Yeah. And in your research, have you found that there’s usually one hack that kind of unlocks the mass of the users? Or is it really a combination of different hacks that these companies kind of string together?

Ryan: You know what I think? I think it’s both, certainly, you know, oh, by the way, another great example, it doesn’t always.

Ryan: Have to be a platform.

Ryan: Facebook deciding that we’re going to use.

Ryan: Colleges who are, you know, a contained under under survey audience. We’re going to design something just for them that’s going to blow up. Yeah. But so for Facebook, that’s their first growth. And then the next one, they’re looking for something else. You know, a growth team isn’t just doing one thing over and over and over again. It’s like once you get.

Ryan: Once Airbnb.

Ryan: Starts to exploit Craigslist, that the.

Ryan: Diminishing.

Ryan: Returns at some point set in and then they’ve got to find the next thing. Yeah. Although, you know, ideally this leads into the next step, which I’m sure we’ll get to is that.

Ryan: Your growth hack is to bring your initial rush of users.

Ryan: In.

Ryan: Which is setting you.

Ryan: Up for what you’re going to do next. It’s not like.

Ryan: Repeat step two.

Ryan: Ad nauseum.

Bronson: Gotcha. All right. So the next step is going viral, kind of leveraging that initial user base. So what do you mean by going viral and how is that done in your research?

Ryan: Yeah, so I guess.

Ryan: First. I need it. Not in the way.

Ryan: That every traditional marketer has.

Ryan: Ever heard it, which is.

Ryan: Like you’re in a.

Ryan: Meeting and some boring.

Ryan: Person.

Ryan: Who totally sucks says like, Hey, we want like we want this to go viral. Like, I want this video to go viral and you’re just like.

Ryan: Did you watch the video? This is not something that anyone would share.

Ryan: Like, you’re going to put this on your personal or your personal Facebook. Your 20 friends.

Ryan: Are going to say they like it and then no one else is going to watch it. So virality is something that has to be built into the product. And this this works in lockstep with, you know, step two. Okay.

Ryan: So you’re bringing in a rush of people.

Ryan: If those people.

Ryan: Are not encouraged to bring in.

Ryan: More people, then you’re going to have to repeat step two to bring.

Ryan: In a.

Ryan: Constant flow of new users. If you make something amazing, you.

Ryan: Find a way to get people to.

Ryan: Spread the word. And then when those people are sucked in, the network effect kicks in there.

Ryan: They’re encouraged to invite other people.

Ryan: By using the product. It’s inherently.

Ryan: Social.

Ryan: And public.

Ryan: Now you’re getting a free app. Like if you bring in 10,000 users.

Ryan: Taking advantage of some growth and those 10,000.

Ryan: Users are publicly interacting with your service, now you’ve reached.

Ryan: Millions of people.

Bronson: Yeah. And then that kind of leads to the fourth step, which is retention and optimization. You’ve got them. You don’t want to lose them, right?

Ryan: Yeah, I actually I quote you in the book, which is that retention trumps acquisition.

Ryan: So it’s like, you know.

Ryan: If you don’t want to get stuck repeating step.

Ryan: Two over and over again, you.

Ryan: Better make sure that the people that you’re bringing.

Ryan: In and the.

Ryan: People that are finding out about your service.

Ryan: Virally are actually sticking and being being.

Ryan: Being turned.

Ryan: Into long.

Ryan: Time.

Ryan: Customers.

Ryan: I think it was Archie Adams who’s a growth actor, Udemy.

Bronson: ABRAMS Yeah.

Ryan: ABRAMS Yeah, he was he put it well, he’s like, look, you.

Ryan: Know, you don’t have to bring in more customers. You can just increase the long term value of your customers.

Ryan: And it.

Ryan: Accomplishes.

Ryan: The same thing. And I think.

Ryan: Any marketer can.

Ryan: Tell you it’s or any.

Ryan: Product.

Ryan: Development person.

Ryan: Can tell you acquisition is.

Ryan: Very.

Ryan: Expensive. You know.

Ryan: Having to go out and.

Ryan: Market costs money and it takes time and.

Ryan: Whatever you would be better.

Ryan: Spending your time talking to the people.

Ryan: It’s easier to preach to the converted.

Ryan: You know, and if you spend.

Ryan: Your time there, I think.

Ryan: You’re going to get better results.

Bronson: Yeah, if you got that far down your funnel already, they’re drawn to you in a way that a random visitor isn’t. They’ve already self qualified or they want to be sold to more. So sell to the more.

Ryan: Right, exactly. And and you’re.

Ryan: Also learning from.

Ryan: Those people.

Ryan: What’s wrong with your product where they’re leaking.

Ryan: Out? You know, I think.

Ryan: A Twitter suggested users.

Ryan: List is is a great example of a of a sort of a retention are a retention innovation that.

Ryan: Actually had major marketing.

Ryan: Implications. You know what?

Ryan: Ashton Kutcher had.

Ryan: Gotten.

Ryan: The first million Twitter followers.

Ryan: If that if the suggested.

Ryan: Users list wasn’t there. No, of course not.

Ryan: But that came about.

Ryan: Because they were trying to.

Ryan: Fix a hole.

Ryan: Where users were leaking.

Ryan: Out. And so, you know, I think a traditional.

Ryan: Marketer wouldn’t have.

Ryan: Seen that as a marketing choice. But Josh Elman was smart enough to see that, hey, not only will this this will help us grow and is therefore marketing. Yeah.

Bronson: Now, your book that you just released with Penguin, it’s an e-book and it’s already a bestseller on Amazon. It’s only been out a few days. And again, I don’t think it’s an accident. Growth hacking usually isn’t an accident, right? Usually, you know, a little chemistry experiment going on behind the scenes, you know, kind of a network of things are trying to make that happen. And as I looked at the sales of it, because I’m always watching what’s going on with growth hacking, I saw a few of the things you were doing right behind the scenes. Some of the streams are appalling. So I want you to talk to us about those things, because this is this is your territory. You understand how to push a book. That’s what you know.

Ryan: Yeah, it’s funny. So with both my last two books with Trust Me.

Ryan: On Wine, I remember sitting down with.

Ryan: The publisher and I was like, Look.

Ryan: I wrote a book about how I manipulate the media and I’m good at marketing. If this book’s not a bestseller.

Ryan: It sort of.

Ryan: Undermines the.

Ryan: The argument. And that’s actually my main problem with most marketing books.

Ryan: It’s they’re well written, but it’s like, what if this.

Ryan: Guy is so good? Why is he writing a.

Ryan: Book and why is it not more successful? And so I wanted to make sure with this book that if I’m going to write about growth, acting them, how I.

Ryan: Sort of have discovered and learned about.

Ryan: Growth hacking, I better put those principles into effect, or at least try to. Yeah, so I did.

Ryan: That in a number of ways. The biggest one was I wrote an e-book.

Ryan: Instead of a physical book, which meant I got.

Ryan: It to market faster.

Ryan: I can change and improve it and make it better. I can add stuff to.

Bronson: Market fit right there.

Ryan: Yeah, exactly. And then price to, you know.

Ryan: People. I probably could have sold this book for a lot.

Ryan: More, but I put it up for three bucks, which I actually can track. So we.

Ryan: Negotiated with my my.

Ryan: Publisher because I.

Ryan: Wanted people to be able to take a chance on it. That’s a big part. Like, hey, I heard this book was good, but I don’t want.

Ryan: To spend $30.

Ryan: Because I may be wrong, you know? So those were the big things I did. But then I.

Ryan: Also I.

Ryan: Understood I wanted.

Ryan: To try sort of a content marketing approach. So I think.

Ryan: I wrote something like 15.

Ryan: Different articles.

Ryan: About the about things that were in the book that I published.

Ryan: For free all over the Internet.

Ryan: Is that the best way.

Ryan: To bring.

Ryan: People.

Ryan: In is to use someone else’s platform and offer them something for free. And that ended up being a big driver of sales. So I did two actually.

Ryan: Three SlideShare presentations, for.

Ryan: Example. And I think cumulatively there.

Ryan: Are almost 400,000.

Ryan: Views. Wow. And and those.

Ryan: Are 400,000 people who wouldn’t have.

Ryan: Just picked up the book based on the strength of.

Ryan: My name or something.

Ryan: Yeah. So, even so, one, they’re more likely to buy the book. But even if they don’t buy the book, at least heard of it and know they know about me. And maybe they’ll buy something from me down the road.

Bronson: Yeah. And when you did those guest blogging articles, one of things I noticed is because that’s one of my strategies, I guess. Blog. I try to get traffic at the top of the funnel that way. And you orchestrated so that they were all published almost at the same time. So I know you weren’t one offering these. Like I’m going to ride it, pitch it, get it out there, write it, pitch it, get it out there. There was some kind of machinery where these were already pre-written. Right. Ready to.

Ryan: Go? Yeah, of course. So, I mean, I.

Ryan: Finished the book, I.

Ryan: Think in January or February, and then I spent the rest of the time planning.

Ryan: Out my marketing strategy.

Ryan: Writing articles, building relationships, connecting with people. And so I wrote all the articles, and then I said, Hey, look, I’m not telling you when you can and can’t publish them, but like this is when it comes out. I would like it to be as close to that as possible because books, especially with Amazon, their success is measured by velocity. So, you know, if and I have found that.

Ryan: Preorders are not.

Ryan: That are harder to convince people to do so I wanted them all to come out when the book was available and to drive sales and that’s what drove it to number one. And that’s how you get that cumulative advantage because people are like, Man, this book came out of nowhere. I’m seeing it all over the place. It must be.

Ryan: At least.

Ryan: Worth investigating a little.

Ryan: Bit further. Yeah.

Ryan: But at the same time, a lot of authors, they concentrate.

Ryan: Everything in the first week, and.

Ryan: Then they have nothing left. Mm hmm.

Ryan: This is an e-book. I’m not.

Ryan: Trying. I’m not. You know, I’m not. It has a longer lifespan, hopefully. So I’m still I’ve still.

Ryan: Got three or four more articles coming this week. You know, I’m doing this interview with you.

Ryan: You yeah. I, I think it’s, you’ve.

Ryan: Got to have.

Ryan: Velocity, but if, if you, you know, you pop up and then immediately fall back down, that’s not productive either. Yeah.

Bronson: No, let’s also talk about velocity for just a second. I think there’s something deeper there beyond just books. It’s obvious for books because Amazon literally you can’t be a bestseller unless in week one you have X number of sales. But there’s something you said about, you know, when it seems like you’re everywhere that can also work in a startup. If all of a sudden a startup is just everywhere, they’re ubiquitous, everywhere you turn, they’re being talked about. They have a dominance in your mind that is hard to replicate. But then, like you said, they also need the volume. So I want starts to hear you need velocity and volume for your product and for a book. And they’re both just, you know, principles to take away.

Ryan: Yeah, I sort of think about it as like a well-timed.

Ryan: Like, artillery barrage.

Ryan: You know, it’s like it’s all aimed at the same thing, but.

Ryan: It’s much more powerful.

Ryan: It’s, if it’s coming in all directions. Yeah. And, but so.

Ryan: There’s that old marketing adage like, you.

Ryan: Need to reach people in and you need to touch people three.

Ryan: Different times before you know they’re going to try our product.

Ryan: Well, the problem is.

Ryan: Like that was.

Ryan: When we all consumed.

Ryan: Like three or four different.

Ryan: Mediums, you know, like the a lot of people I know, it’s like they go on the Internet, they listen to Spotify.

Ryan: On their computer.

Ryan: They check apps on their phone. It’s like it’s all the same digital stuff. And so I feel like the barrage has to be much.

Ryan: Bigger.

Ryan: Because like I think I did a couple of like I’m mostly.

Ryan: In the UK, I did a.

Ryan: Couple of like print interviews.

Ryan: But it’s like this is all digital. So it’s, it’s got to be much bigger and it’s got to.

Ryan: It’s like you got.

Ryan: To know where people’s radar, like what’s on people’s radar. And then if you can register on that radar a.

Ryan: Bunch of times in a small window, it feels like, okay, this is a big deal. This is one of those things I should check out.

Bronson: Yeah, it’s interesting you call it an artillery barrage because I actually did a class for you to me on this, and they called it Hype Bomb.

Ryan: Right now.

Bronson: Because you’re trying to create a bomb of hype in a very short amount of time. And you can’t have these effects as long as the volume be carried forward or you don’t have the, you know, the trail of sorrow, the talk about where everything went into the PR release and then you got nothing left. So I love the way you’re thinking, man. That’s great. Well, Ryan, this is digital ID.

Ryan: Yeah, sorry. And the.

Ryan: Thing about digital, what is good.

Ryan: About them is when you.

Ryan: Time it as an artillery barrage.

Ryan: But if.

Ryan: Someone doesn’t.

Ryan: Get around to reading.

Ryan: Some blog post.

Ryan: I wrote on back catalog for six.

Ryan: Months.

Ryan: The link still works, still.

Ryan: Good. You know.

Ryan: You appear on the Today Show. No one’s watching.

Ryan: The archives of.

Ryan: The Today Show. So the digital stuff, it.

Ryan: It doesn’t really matter.

Ryan: When you publish it, you might as well publish it all at the same time.

Ryan: And if you do it.

Ryan: Right, though, you should be.

Ryan: You should be making evergreen stuff that should, you know, like, yeah, I’m.

Ryan: Hoping now a lot of these posts will be.

Ryan: Like the number one and two.

Ryan: And three sort of Google results for growth hacking.

Ryan: And continue to drive traffic indefinitely.

Bronson: Yeah. And one of the threads that kind of runs through everything we’ve talked about in terms of gaining momentum is leveraging other people’s audiences. LOBA You know, that’s what we talked about. You know, when Facebook leverages campuses, the campus was somebody else’s audience and they leveraged it. When someone like Spotify leverages Facebook, that’s someone else’s audience they’re leveraging. When you hijack 15 blogs, you’ve leveraged someone else’s audience. They’ve already captured a group of people. How can you tap into them, get all the eyeballs on you and run for it?

Ryan: And I think the number one principle behind that and people forget is is self-interest. And this is one.

Ryan: So I trained under Robert Grenier at the 40 lot.

Ryan: Of power, and he says, you know, never appeal to mercy or gratitude, always self-interest. It’s like, I think, the most important law of power. And so it’s like if.

Ryan: You’re going to if you want a blog.

Ryan: Post, you don’t go.

Ryan: Like, hey, I’m trying to promote.

Ryan: My book where you let me write a blog post. It’s like, look, growth hacking is this big thing. I think this.

Ryan: Post will.

Ryan: Do really well. I’m going to promote the.

Ryan: Shit out of it.

Ryan: Will you let me write this? It will be.

Ryan: Good for you.

Ryan: And incidentally, also good for me. And people like TechCrunch doesn’t exist to.

Ryan: Promote your startup.

Ryan: That’s not why they exist, but they do exist to generate page views. And if promoting.

Ryan: Their startup.

Ryan: Gets them page views, those goals are in sync and you’ll be able to benefit from their platform.

Bronson: Absolutely. Whenever I write a guest blog post post, one of the first things I say in the email is, Hey, my last one had over 800 retweets. That’s three times more than your average post. Can I write a guest post for you?

Ryan: Right, exactly. And so, like.

Ryan: You want to make.

Ryan: Sure that you’re not being super transactional about it, but you want you.

Ryan: Want to hint.

Ryan: At that ever so subtly. That’s like, look.

Ryan: Pretend like you’re doing me a favor when really you’re doing yourself a favor.

Bronson: Yeah, exactly. Well, Ryan, this has been a great interview. You’ve been super transparent. I’m glad you’ve done all the research you have as an outsider to kind of shed a light. In a new way for insiders. I think that’s so helpful, you putting out a book on it. And I think it even validates the space when Penguin puts out a book by Ryan Holiday on the topic that I’m personally very interested in. It validates the space for a lot of people. So thank you for all your work. First of all.

Ryan: No, of course. And thank you. You know, like for.

Ryan: People who don’t.

Ryan: Know, like you and I.

Ryan: Talked like while I was writing the book, you gave me a bunch of great insight and.

Ryan: You actually helped me. You threw out this idea that I should I should give.

Ryan: Like, a trial.

Ryan: Subscription to grow accurate.

Ryan: TV at the back of the book. And and it only occurred to me then that that would be a great way.

Ryan: To capture email.

Ryan: Addresses and sort of like. So if I decided to do.

Ryan: A print version.

Ryan: I have all the people who.

Ryan: Signed up to get the bonuses that I gave away. And so, like.

Ryan: You were very helpful.

Ryan: In sort of helping me, not just I think.

Ryan: I understood.

Ryan: Growth hacking as a mindset. And then.

Ryan: You gave me this great tactic.

Ryan: That I think also illustrates the mindset.

Bronson: So I had to because I got to the back of the book you also put in there, and if you send me your email or whatever, then I’ll also send you transcripts of the interviews I did and now know I’m like, Well, now I want to give you my email address. And you know, the thing was based on what we have talked about. So you took it up a level. And I think that’s a great way to think about it because it’s a traditional product. It’s a book, right? It’s being growth hacked and you’re building a mailing list. And I’m sure Penguin has never done anything like that before.

Ryan: No, not of course not. Like you sell thousands of copies of a book and then you do.

Ryan: Another book with them and you.

Ryan: Have to start completely from scratch.

Ryan: It’s, you know, it’s insane.

Ryan: Like authors who sell millions of books.

Ryan: Are in that same boat. It’s actually, you know, quite sad in some way.

Ryan: But from your.

Ryan: Idea, I just decided to like, look, if I.

Ryan: Can produce an overwhelming.

Ryan: Amount of value for people.

Ryan: There are going to be a lot more likely to.

Ryan: Recommend the book. And I felt like that was its own growth. I can I’ve seen people talking about this on Twitter like, look, the.

Ryan: Book is $3.

Ryan: But then I got, you know.

Ryan: Hundreds of dollars worth of.

Ryan: Bonuses. You got to buy this thing. And it’s like.

Ryan: The things are free for me to give.

Ryan: Away. And it works out. And I think at the end of the day, if if growth hacking and marketing come together in any way, it’s when you make something that’s spectacular.

Ryan: And worth talking.

Ryan: About. That’s the ultimate growth hacking. It checks off all the steps that we talked about. Yeah.

Bronson: And even shows the ability of partnerships because as much as your growth hacking with me, I’m grow with you. So I’m getting new users every day signing up, putting in a credit card on growth out of TV. Because of your book, you’re getting people buying the book because they get, you know, a lot of money free and growth out of TV and other things. Totally growth. Hacking is not a zero sum game. Everyone’s not your enemy. A lot of times if you join forces, you can go and take market share together. It’s just not zero sum.

Ryan: Absolutely. That’s probably the best thing that I’ve.

Ryan: Heard about.

Bronson: It. Yeah, that’s awesome. Well, Ryan, thank you so much for coming on here and just being a part of growth equity TV.

Ryan: Awesome. Can’t wait to see this.

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