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Growth hacking lessons from the Grinch?
It’s hard to believe he has careened down Mount Crumpit every season since 1966. The Grinch may be old school, but he has something to teach modern marketers.
This time of year, there are dozens of holiday specials to watch, but few have obtained the classic status of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The playful verse, brilliant music and quirky animation are as compelling today as they were a half-century ago.
The Grinch was was highly original even by lofty Suessian standards, perhaps the greatest holiday villain since Ebenezer Scrooge. Among hundreds of his creations, the Grinch was a favorite of creator Theodore “Dr. Seuss” Geisel, who saw much of the Grinch to his own personality
“I was brushing my teeth on the morning of the 26th of last December when I noticed a very Grinch-ish countenance in the mirror. It was Seuss! So I wrote about my sour friend, the Grinch, to see if I could rediscover something about Christmas that obviously I’d lost,” Geisel said.
- The Grinch has important lessons for growth hackers and digital marketers. He:Takes action. Once the Grinch formulated a plan, he realized he had to execute. All that Christmas stuff wasn’t going to steal itself. Since his concept was a seasonal play, he knew there was no time to analyze market trends, financing and regulatory issues. He went straight to work, not even stopping to scrawl his idea on the back of a proverbial napkin.
- Bootstraps, making use of materials and staff he had on hand. No reindeer? No problem. Choosing not to pursue venture capital afforded him a degree of freedom he would not have had otherwise. Plus, going through the pitch cycle or even a Kickstarter campaign means he would have missed a tight launch window and ended up among the many startups that never actually start up.
- Has a wonderful, awful idea which didn’t scale. He knew that sometimes during the traction phase, growth marketers must take extraordinary actions to onboard their first customers. Some argue that the Grinch could have boosted productivity by hiring seasonal employees, but he managed to steal all the Who’s stuff using only existing staff and resources. Breaking and entering may not be a viable long-term strategy, but it opened up several professional opportunities for the Grinch in publishing, feature films and Christmas merchandise.
- Builds trust. Although initially the Grinch’s head wasn’t screwed on just right, and his business model was a criminal enterprise, he was able to turn things around. At first, he is reviled as a monster not be touched with a thirty-nine-and -a-half-foot pole. He totally alienates the no-more-than-two cohort by lying to Cindy Lou Who regarding a customer support issue. Yet somehow, by the end of show, he has mastered the know > like > trust cycle. Seated at a place of honor at the feast, and even carves the roast beast, rather than spending Christmas in Whoville jail with a cellmate named “Max the Ax-Murdering Zax.”
- Pivots his thinking when faced with new evidence. Say what you will about the Grinch, he listened carefully to his audience. Upon hearing the Who’s Christmas morning chorus, he is humbled and inspired to change his ways. In the process, he posts some jaw-dropping KPIs. His tiny heart grows two sizes, and he musters the strength of 10 Grinches plus two – a hefty 1,100% gain. That is growth hacking, right there. These Uber-numbers could serve as inspiration for stalled startups who can’t bear to leave their original concept behind to pursue a more promising business model.
- Consistently delivers. Most of all, the Grinch is exemplary in showing commitment and consistency. Marketers justifiably have mad respect for Robert Cialdini, who illustrates the power of consistency in his Six Principals of Persuasion. People like to see consistency in their own behavior as well as others, and the Grinch nails it. He never just chills in his cave watching Scrooged or blows the whole thing off to spend the winter in Boca Raton. Like the Grinch, growth hackers need to be resourceful and consistently deliver whatever is needed for traction.
I can’t imagine getting tired of watching the Grinch have his annual epiphany. And it doesn’t hurt to have that reminder that maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.
The three words that best describe what you should do next are as follows, and I quote:
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