Not the noun, the verb. A marketing hack (vb.) is a marketing shortcut designed to create immediate return. Like a technology hack, it plays off of something that already exists – tweaks it, tests it, then turns it loose to see what happens. Prior to the web there weren’t many marketing hacks (vb.). Maybe buy an 800 number close to a competitor, draft the media plan of the #1 brand, create package design similar to that of the category leader, direct coupons at competitive buyers. Pre-Web, there were more marketing hacks of the noun variety – people who stole other’s message to create sales. (Hey, pass me Campaign Magazine, I need some inspiration for an ad.)
But with the web changing everything in the world of marketing — collapsing the sales cycles into a few clicks — we have a growing preponderance of marketing hacks (vb.) which are disrupting the business, as Jean-Marie Dru might say. In a bad way. The science of creating attention and clicks is displacing the science of creating product preference, and brand loyalty.
Marketing hacks (vb.) at their worst are like human cells growing out of control… and you know what that is. Market research scientists are being replaced by marketing technology scientists and it is creating some serious near-term chaos. In my travels I’m finding the smartest marketers are those seasoned professionals who know how to find a motivating idea, manipulate it (like Beckham) and put it in consumers way with subtly to create a sale. If it’s a hack so be it, but it can’t be a tactical gimmick.
If your marketing agent is 26 years old, a 3 year social media veteran and pulling the strings of significant marketing budget, you might just be placing too much emphasis on the verb. And, if you should look around the room, if there is no noun in sight, chances are you might be that noun. 🙂 Peace.
PS. There are many new media marketing hacks that building sales and loyalty. And they are more than exciting.