Progress. That’s a nice word. “We’re making progress…”, says the workers cutting the road through the forest. Then, a wise leader climbs a tree and says “but you’re going the wrong way!”
That’s all fine and good, and a good lean startup does this often. It’s called “Pivot” and it’s central to the Lean Startup concept. But what happens when you just keep pivoting? Aren’t you chasing your tail? Suddenly, you have a road to nowhere, or worse, a road that goes in circles.
This is a TRAP! Your “lean startup” just got into a slowly dieing spiral of doom. Your dream is getting flushed in the toilet because you keep climbing that tree and realizing that you’re going the wrong way!
Here’s an example of the Lean Startup in the Toilet Bowl Trap:
You build a website and collect some preorders (yeah, progress!)
You ship the preorders and get feedback from customers that they love/hate certain features (yeah, progress!)
You fix the product based on the feedback, and nobody buys it (yeah, progress!)
You PIVOT to a new product and collect some preorders (yeah, progress!)
Jump to step #2, repeat, all the way to the toilet’s flush.
So, how do you get out of this toilet bowl trap?
First, remember, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing expecting different results.
You have to do something different!
In many cases, the problem is not ‘your product’ or ‘your idea’, but the marketing instead!
Instead of constantly pivoting on “product” you might need to pivot on some of the other 4 P’s of Marketing:
Place: Maybe your lack of orders is because it’s not available where the customers are… and particularly where the customers are that are in the buying mood for what you offer!
Price: Maybe your lack of orders is related to the pricing or pricing structure of your product. Maybe you need to sell it in parts, or with different options. It could even be too low!
Promotion: Maybe your lack of orders is related to how you are attracting customers. Sure, you’re getting a lot of ‘views’, but are those customers: the right ones, in the right mood (buying), with the right goals, with the right problems, with enough education about your solution, etc.? Or Maybe, your just not reaching your right audience, or just not ‘appealing’ enough to their needs (messaging).
So, avoid the Toilet Bowl Trap: run Lean Startup Experiments on more than just ‘the product’…
All of marketing should be about results! When you are a startup this is even more important, because you have no money to waste on “brand”… you certainly don’t have the time to waste. Harlan T. Beverly, 3-time Start-up Founder & CEO, will present a 7-Step process to create an effective Results-based “marketing engine” that will drive results for your startup. Harlan will give specific examples from marketing campaigns he has created from: Bigfoot Networks, Harlan’s video game hardware company, Night Owl Games, where Harlan developed marketing that attracted more than 1,000,000 players, INGZ games, where Harlan created marketing campaigns to drive users to install mobile games, and Key Ingredient, where Harlan is currently CEO and drives 3,000,000+ visitors/month to http://www.keyingredient.com
Tytus explains the 4Ps of Marketing (Product, Place, Price, and Promotion)… and how Marketing is NOT JUST promotion (advertising)… and in fact, PRODUCT has the biggest impact on marketing & sales success.
I’ve scoured the internet for a nice, simple, method for how to build a Marketing Plan, and all I find is very short, confusing, unorganized stuff (and very little of that). So, without further ado, my 10 steps for building an “AWARD WINNING” Marketing Plan.
Research your 5-Cs. Customer, Company, Competition, Collaboration, Context
This can be done fairly easily with some Google searching or industry related press reading.
I find doing it in order is the best..
Just jot down as many notes as you can for each section.
Below is the goal you are trying to reach for each C
Customer – Write down WHO is your ZEBRA (Ideal) customer.. then expand that view just enough to encompass a market that is of a “small, but big enough” size. The goal here is to choose a FOCUSED group of people who you can clearly identify… NOT make it the biggest set of people possible (that’s for Business Plans, not Marketing Plans).
Company – Write down what are your companies strengths, weaknesses, vision, and values. (This will help in the rest of the plan).
Competition – Write down a list of competitors and note their “pricing” and their “differentiation” claims. SPEND LOTS OF TIME HERE. It’s worth it later.
Context – Write down trends in society, business, culture, and geography that MAY (or may not) cause you PROBLEMS or create OPPORTUNITIES.
Now, write down your 4 Ps – Product, Place, Price, Promotion. First up: Product.
To get Product right (for Marketing purposes), it must fit in the following Sentences:
ACME (YOUR COMPANY/PRODUCT/BRAND) is a _______ that does ____________ for ________.
UNLIKE OTHER _______ we do _________________________.
Now list 3 Benefits. ( NO MORE )
Now list 3 Features. ( NO MORE )
If you can get this focused with your product, you’re ready for the next step.
NOTE: If you have engineers/tech people, don’t invite them to help with this section… do it yourself (or have someone do it for you)… then correct as needed.
Place – Where do you plan to sell? What is your selling motion?
Price – How much will you charge? What is the upsell path (or options)? What is the average lifetime value of a customer? How does all this compare to the competition?
Promotion – NOTICE, I am last here… many people think a “Marketing Plan” is just this section… (the Advertising, PR, etc.)… but it is not. This is important, but not the MOST important. To me, the first C is most important (Customer) Followed by the first P (Product). Anyways, here’s promotion:
How much can you spend to acquire a customer? (see average lifetime value for hints)
How many customers do you want to acquire in a period? (therefor, that is your budget)
What “Free-ish” marketing can you do? (PR, Social Media, SEO, other)? How can you measure its effectiveness?
What “Cheap-ish” marketing can you do? (SEM, Google Adwords, Google Adsense, CMP, CPC, CPA)? How can you measure its effectiveness?
What “Expensive, but hopefully measurable” marketing can you do? (Partner/Reseller Marketing, Paid Banners, Trade Shows, Events, etc.)? How can you measure its effectiveness?
What “Brand building” MUST you do? (non-measurable stuff like TV, Print, Billboards, etc.).?
Now, allocate budget from 2-6… where you don’t spend 1c on the next item, till you’ve spent all you can (reasonably & scalable) spend on the prior number. MOST COMPANIES SHOULD NEVER GET PAST 4. (at least not in the early days).
Hope this was helpful!
Comments and Arguments and Links are always MORE than welcome.