Book Review: Growth Hacker Marketing by Ryan Holiday


Jon Elordi

Honestly, this book is garbage. I really enjoyed Ryan Holiday’s first book, Trust Me I’m LyingHowever, this book is a lousy follow-up. It feels like Ryan Holiday found out about the keyword “Growth Hacker” and quickly put together a book.

The good news about the book is that it is short. It totals 137 pages and that includes a lengthy faq, notes, glossary, afterward, next steps, and acknowledgments section. I’m shocked there’s not a coda. He used every trick he could to add pages to the book that is already pretty small and printed on thick pages.

The meat of the book ends on page 91. The book feels like a blog post he stretched out to a book.

Most of the book is anecdotal stories and not concrete steps. What made Trust Me I’m Lying so good were the specifics. Growth Hacker Marketing is vague and feels like a lot of space filler.


The book is structured into four sections. The first chapter is really the only good one. He talks about the concept of Product-Market Fit or PMF. It’s a useful topic but also one that has no value to anyone in a marketing position.

Product market fit is how well your product works and how helpful it is for your category or niche. A high product fit would really dominate a category.

Ryan Holiday makes the case that for a product to be growth hacked it needs excellent product fit. So the best way to growth hack a product is to have an excellent product. REALLY HELPFUL STUFF.

growth hacker

The other helpful part of the book is where he explains that you should incentivize the spreading of your product. An ethical bribe is a way to spread the product. Not just free trails, but free things.

Dropbox offers extra free space for every person you get to register. Or Wealthfrong which will manage more of your money for free if you get people to register.

The goal of all growth hacking is to create a marketing system that will encourage marketing to happen without having to constantly create buzz(Earned Media) or buy buzz(Paid Media).

Bad Writing

At the end of the day, we are all just trying to grow our businesses. What growth hackers have mastered is the ability to grow and expand their business without having to chase down customers. At the end of the day, isn’t this a lot easier and cheaper?

The same turn of phrase in one paragraph? I’m not upset he wrote it. That makes sense. I’m upset not the editor fixed it. I’m so disappointed.


In the end, the book was not worth the $15 I paid at Barnes and Noble. The best part of the book is the reading list in the back of the book. It references books that have been popular and I’ll probably use the list to determine future book purchases.

Overall it was a disappointment and makes me question buying another book by Ryan Holiday. He cashed in all of his goodwill from Trust Me I’m Lying.