What is Receptive Marketing?

Douglas Crets
3 min readAug 22, 2015

Receptive marketing is a theory, a practice and a system of thinking that develops marketing strategies for deployment on social and email distribution systems in the following context:

  1. A nexus of people and behaviors that in tech and startup marketing values growth hacking over traditional versions of digital marketing planning and execution.
  2. A system of social and digital distribution of content that is delivered through people and identity, themes and idea-seeking behaviour, rather than searching, SEO, or categorical organization.
  3. A world mapped by social software, data software, and organizations where individual professionals execute “random walks” to get to where they want to go in terms of information, ideas, and mutual exchange of benefit.

Receptive marketing is not an antagonistic practice to growth hacking. It simply operates counter to growth hacking’s main precept: that you can use tools, tips and tricks to reach massive numbers of individuals.

It works from this assumption and this value position because data and science show us that growth hacking merely delivers numbers and immediate consumption (downloads, links, clicks, visits) but it does not promote, sustain, retain or deliver value to audiences in the medium to long term.

Receptive marketing does, because at its core, receptive marketing is four things:

  1. Listening
  2. Responsiveness to emotional needs
  3. Predictive intelligence about consumption and buying behavior
  4. Storytelling

This statement of value and this blog post are a kind of mission statement. It is not a manifesto. It simply describes what “receptive marketing” is, and then sets the agenda and the promise to use this space to further educate and create a conversation about marketing in a digital and identity age.

What growth hacking started was a conversation and a strategy development that realized that individuals were the key to selling on the web. But what growth hacking didn’t finish was, how do you do this in the longer term and drive retention, company scale of value, and growth.

This is the ironic thing about growth hacking. As a practice it suggests by a delineation of its values that it is here to help you grow. But all growth hacking really does — and we admit the following is an intuitive and anecdotal observation — is games the growth metric of audience size to secure vast sums of money from VC, thereby “growing” the startup’s value on paper, but not necessarily always growing the startup’s value through revenue to user ratios.

Receptive marketing carries it forward. It does so in these three ways:

  1. Developing the customer as a long term partner of community that accelerates consumption of product and service through good will and word of mouth, and through customer service that is in some ways automated and in many more ways manual and human-operated.
  2. Creating a self-contained (in social platform pages, lists and groups) community of information transmission and creating a self-distributing (through linking, tweeting, emailing) conversation online and in a transparent and a meta-taggable way.
  3. Limiting the first stages of growth to the largest small group that is pulled out of the web and social clouds through analysis, data capture, and identity (opted-in) extraction.

And then there is the following philosophy of practice that is this practioneers mission statement for receptive marketing:

The world is organized through identity, people want to be connected, and people need to be connected because there is only a partial view of reality. Every truth and every bit of information can be found through discovery, communication and connection with people of similar passions, curiosities, and conflicts.

Receptive marketing finds those people by making available this information and then receiving the individuals who wish to create those communities in transparent and culturally-motivated ways.

Examples of companies or organizations that market this way:




Medium — which is all at once the platform, the message, and the, um, medium (see writing of @gabekleinman).


Unikrn via Rahul Sood, formerly of Voodoo and Microsoft

Aspects of Microsoft

Aspects of the Android community

Watch this space for further entries on receptive marketing. I hope you have been receptive to some of the thinking here. At the very least, let’s chat.