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Is growth marketing giving traditional marketing a run for their money?

Reports shows that over the last year or so, traditional marketing has dropped nearly 160%

While, in the same time period, expenses for digital marketing has climbed up 14%.

Growth marketing (especially) is gaining a lot of traction in the marketing industry these days.

But does that mean traditional marketing is slowly going into extinction?

In this article, I’ll give you a brief overview, similarities, and the striking difference between these two concepts. 

Their meaning and how they’ve evolved over the years, too.

Plus, my advice on which one is best for you- no matter where you currently might be in your business.

Let’s start by defining each one of them.

What is Growth Marketing

What Is Growth Marketing?

Growth Marketing, unlike traditional marketing, is a specific, calculated, data driven strategy that encompasses everything that makes up a marketing funnel.

The ultimate aim is to grow and scale a business using every marketing channel available.

Growth marketing takes a critical look at a brand’s customer journey and audits the process in order to create new ways to retain customers.

There’s a popular concept in growth marketing called The Pirate Funnel.

This funnel breaks down a customer’s journey from first hearing about your brand to becoming a lifetime customer.

In examining these funnels to invent new strategies to grow a business, growth marketing runs tests on both the frontend and backend of the funnel.

We will get to a more in depth explanation of the funnel in a minute, but let’s first learn everything we can about growth marketing.

Who’s A Growth Marketer?

In simple, non-technical words, a growth marketer is someone with skill in identifying the weakness and strengths of a company.

And knows how to use these two variables to effectively and efficiently grow a business. 

He or she knows how to get data by analyzing various customer experiences in buying your product or service.

Then, taking these data and seeing where in the buying funnel to apply it to optimize the customer journey.

Because growth marketing is all about acquiring new customers, retaining them, and continuing to give them value to drive up revenue.

We can’t talk about growth marketing without Growth Hacking coming into the picture.

What Is Growth Hacking?

Growth hacking is similar to growth marketing. It’s an approach that stemmed out of growth marketing.

It takes a more sophisticated framework to find the loopholes in a brand’s funnel and fixes it with the appropriate marketing tactic.

It doesn’t stop at spotting the loopholes.

It also studies the customer journey to see if there’s any opportunity to improve the experience and make more money doing so.

It’s not really different from growth marketing per se.

If you search the internet now, you’ll discover that growth hacking is sometimes referred to as growth marketing.

It’s just a slight difference that I figured you need to know before we proceed further.

However, we will be using the two terms interchangeably from here on out. 

All you have to know is it’s saying the same thing. 

So don’t lose interest just yet, there won’t be any form of confusion. You have my word!

Moving on…

Growth hacking uses cutting-edge techniques to fast track the growth of a brand.

It has to do with a lot of testing and experimenting to find the right key that unlocks the expected growth.

The Digital Scientists

Growth hackers are like scientists, “Digital scientists” if you will.

They see the internet as a laboratory to run different tests, experiments, and analysis based on practical data.

Because they spend more time understanding the customer and their reaction to the company’s product or service…

They work closely with the product development team to craft products that satisfy customers’ greatest wants and needs.

So, therefore, we can say growth hackers measure how hungry or frustrated a customer is and gives them the right prescription.

That’s why as a growth hacker you must rely on a structured way of thinking and execution to bring about growth in a company.

Furthermore, as a growth hacker, you should only take on projects you know would work with 100 percent certainty.

These projects must align with the different strategies in the mind of a growth hacker to deliver a successful campaign.

If the project doesn’t meet up to the expectations of the customers or the growth hacker, it can either be suspended for a better one or reformed.

So, with that out of the way,

What’s The Pirate Funnel?

The pirate Funnel is the crux of every growth marketing strategy.

Wondering why the name: Pirate Funnel? Don’t think too far.

The initials of the funnel AAARRR kind of sounds like the shout of a pirate and that’s how it got the name.

Anyway, the funnel consists of the step-by-step process customer’s go through before eventually buying your product or service.

The funnel is a critical part of a growth marketers job portfolio.

Every growth marketer must know how to interpret this funnel and use it to take any business to the next level.


The steps include:

  1. Awareness: Get the word out that you exist and have a solution to their problems.
  2. Acquisition: The hook that gets them into the top of your funnel.
  3. Activation: The eureka moment that triggers them to buy what you are selling.
  4. Retention: An unforgettable experience that makes them come back for more.
  5. Revenue: Create new opportunities to multiply revenue streams.
  6. Referral: Giving existing customers the best service that turns them into active brand ambassadors.

These steps follow a logical sequence during the customer buying journey.

But a growth marketer, depending on the data he gets, can tweak and optimize a specific step no matter the position in the hierarchy.

By carefully observing the individual part of the funnel, the growth marketer can make strategic decisions afterwards.

If in the process of studying the funnel, he (no gender bias here by the way) discovers a part where customers aren’t quite enjoying or are simply struggling with.

He then creates a solution that won’t just solve the problem, but also accelerate the buying process.

One thing customers of the digital age like the most is speed. If they can get something from you in less time than the competition sets.

You will become their go-to brand.

Related Links

What Is Traditional Marketing?

Traditional marketing is the first type of marketing known to man.

It dates back to many years ago when the internet was not even a thought yet.

It means the buying and selling of goods and services off the internet.

Hubspot puts it this way:

Any type of marketing that isn’t online.


Traditional marketing is as old as civilization itself. 

With how long it has been around for, it is safe to classify the trade-by-barter system as part of this marketing make-up.

But it was later known as traditional marketing after the invention of billboards, TV, radio and print ads media.

Any marketing that you do without using any digital tool or channel, then that’s traditional marketing.

It includes mediums from billboards, print media, direct mail, phone calls and door-to-door advertising.

But it all changed when technology took the stage and new methods started showing up.

Is Traditional Marketing Declining?

Traditional marketing is still in use but mostly by big establishments with the finance to advertise on the various channels it rests on.

Startups couldn’t afford the expenses involved and had to look for alternative means to promote their brands.

And that’s how growth marketing came about. More on that in the next section.

Traditional marketing costs a lot and isn’t measurable in terms of ROI and campaign performance.

It was like throwing bait in the sea and waiting for a fish to come along.

Of course, a fish would fall for the bait but you can never tell how the fish found the bait or where you can get more fish to catch.

Traditional marketing was basically throwing a ton of money into advertising and hoping it brings in customers who will buy what you are offering.

It worked for some time but companies began to realize something:

These customers who buy from them most of the time, buy once and never return.

There was no way they could track where and how the customers found them.

And, no idea if the customer got satisfaction or not. Because after a purchase, it was hard to keep close follow up with customers.

You might be thinking a phone call is a good way to follow up on the customers but these people won’t be beside the phone 24/7, right?

And besides, a phone call from a company asking strange questions doesn’t really speak well.

The Game For Financial Giants

Basically, traditional marketing became a game played by only the financial giants in the industry.

It’s still effective as a way to build awareness around your product or service.

But with the rate at which the world and technology is evolving, it’s becoming less and less effective.

People now spend more of their time on the internet.

And lessons from marketing 101 says meet your customers where they are, which in this case is, The Internet.

The internet has provided enormous opportunities for companies both small and big to compete on an even ground.

It’s no longer about who has the biggest money to spend but rather, who knows the ins and outs of marketing to a digital audience efficiently and effectively.

And that’s where growth marketing reigns supreme.

The Similarities And Differences

Growth marketing and traditional marketing are like two sides of a coin.

Although they share some proximity. The aim of every marketing effort is to identify new customers, acquire and retain them.

That’s the only thing they have in common. In every other sense, they are completely different.

The obvious being that one makes use of digital tools while the other doesn’t.

Traditional marketing is inclined towards promoting the business products and services to generate sales.

While growth marketing, on the flip side, is strictly about growth by any means possible.

Let’s get a clearer view of these differences, shall we?

Growth Marketing vs Traditional Marketing

Difference #1

Traditional marketing is capital intensive and requires a boatload of cash to launch and keep running.

Growth marketing, on the other hand, is cost effective and dynamic. You can tweak the strategies based on real time data and feedback from customers’ experience.

Difference #2

Traditional marketing is company-centric. It deals more with getting the company in front of the audience and acquiring those who are interested.

Growth marketing, however, is consumer-centric because it is all about optimizing the customers journey down the marketing funnel (AKA Pirate Funnel)

Difference #3

Traditional marketing covers only the top of the funnel. It deals majorly with brand awareness and customer acquisition, nothing more.

Growth marketing covers the entire funnel, from top to bottom. It runs tests on every stage to see what customers are struggling with and what to do about it.

Difference #4

Traditional marketers play it safe. They are willing to invest a ton of money into mainstream advertising but don’t ever try anything new or think outside the box.

They follow a laid-out pattern even if it doesn’t apply to a company’s size or budget.

Growth marketers are all about taking risks. Calculated risks actually. They don’t settle for just above average. 

Distinction in every marketing campaign is always the goal. 

Running multiple split tests, to locate the KPI (Key Performance Indicator) and double down on that outcome.

But that is not the end, is it? Not at all.

They keep on running tests to find out other opportunities to further grow the business.

That’s why the life of a growth marketer is all about experiments.

They never stop testing and trying out new things to give customers the greatest value in exchange for their money.

Difference #5

Traditional marketing has a limit in terms of the quantity of tools to use to push a brand’s product and service.

They primarily use billboards, broadcast, radio, print ads, to name but a few. 

Since these platforms drive massive exposure and attention, marketers don’t mind paying a premium to get on them.

Growth marketing never runs out of effective tools to deploy and platforms to leverage. 

Growth marketers can switch between traditional and digital methods, depending, of course, on the one that delivers the best result.

These suites of tools give them an advantage to target customers across multiple platforms thereby increasing their impact.

Difference #6

Traditional marketing works with the finished products and markets it to the right audience.

Growth marketing, on the contrary, is involved in the product development stage.

With the level and quality of data they get from successful tests results, they streamline the product to fit the pressing demand of the consumers.

Which One Is The Best For You And Why?

Growth marketing or traditional marketing?

Your choice of which one to use in your campaigns will depend exclusively on what you want to achieve and your budget, among other factors.

Traditional marketing requires a large investment and gets you substantial attention in return.

Growth marketing costs less and delivers not just on the sales goal but also on the long term growth of the company.

It aims at increasing customer lifetime value. It gives you insights on how you can turn your product or brand into an integral part of your customers life.

That they can’t imagine life without your product. A point where life would become meaningless if your product does not exist.

Growth marketing is the vehicle to take your business to that point.

Traditional marketing still has its relevance and significance because it’s where it all started from.

So it can’t be forgotten that easily.

But considering the world we now live in, with explosive growth of the digital sector.

Growth marketing still stands as the best choice to tap into the growing digital market and carve a place for your brand.


You need a marketer if:

  1. You have a huge budget to promote your product or service.
  2. Exposure, attentioj and brand development are your primary objectives and you need an overall marketing strategy to achieve them.

You need a growth marketer if:

  1. You have a small budget but determined to make every dime counts.
  2. All you have is an idea that nobody has used in your target market before.
  3. Exponential growth is what you aim to achieve.

Practically, you need a growth marketer if your company’s growth is too slow.

If your company is yet to reach its full potential and you want to accelerate the process.

If you want to start pushing the edge of the envelope in your business to unlock me growth opportunities.

In a nutshell, growth marketing and traditional marketing will always be used one way or another.

But the former is highly recommended, scalable, measurable, and more effective than the latter.

I hope this article has clarified the difference between growth marketing and traditional marketing for you and hopefully help you plan your next campaign better.

Thanks for reading.

Let me know in the comments below if there’s any aspect we didn’t touch on in this article and we’ll be swift to provide the answers you need.


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