Lean Marketing: Use Validated Learning to be Better

If you’ve ever struggled to get people to use your products, or you’ve found that your company has spent a significant amount of money on a marketing campaign that had little return on your investment, it’s time to introduce yourself to the concept of lean marketing, a process derived from the great concept of Lean Startups (Eric Reis) and further refined by others including Rebecca Herson.

Bigger Marketing Budget Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Better Outcomes

This innovative and highly effective form of marketing approaches generating buzz, traffic, and revenue in a new light: rather than building an entire marketing campaign, researching keywords, building landing sites, and hiring staff members before launching that campaign, lean marketing implements the following steps:

  1. Business leaders select a single product that will be released to the market. The only metrics applied to the product release involve a single success metric, the size of the project, and the duration of the project.
  2. The product is released.
  3. Marketing is measured according to reception of customers who are currently using the product.
  4. This feedback is analyzed to determine how to create a better converting marketing campaign.

Another way to describe lean marketing might be the “Ready, Fire, Aim” approach, in which you release a product, give yourself a short timeframe to study the reaction of your users (including metrics that detail how they arrived to your product), and customized your marketing campaign based on real-time results. The concept of lean marketing forms the basis of the wildly popular concept called growth hacking.

Lean marketing may be considered “fat-free” marketing – especially in light of multi-million dollar marketing budgets and international advertising campaigns – but when it gets down to it, lean marketing can be one of the best ways to run an effective campaign without throwing your valuable dollars out the window. It ensures that your company remains focused on your marketing efforts, all while using real-time metrics that actual users are providing your company.

“Lean” means Efficient Marketing Practices

A recent case study highlights just how powerful lean marketing can be. HubSpot, an online inbound marketing software company based in Cambridge, MA, noticed that Pinterest was suddenly becoming much more popular with marketers in the winter of 2012. As these marketers indicated they were struggling to come up with how to utilize Pinterest, HubSpot wrote an ebook on how to use Pinterest for business in just four days. Instead of waiting to launch the ebook after building a campaign, HubSpot released the ebook and created a campaign based on user reactions. With just a few blog articles and emails, the ebook generated 40,000 downloads within the first month.

So how can you put lean marketing to use in your company or online business? Consider the following steps:

  1. Pick a single product that will be the focus of your marketing campaign. For example, if you have multiple ebooks on inbound marketing, pick one that you want to release to the market. This ensures that you remain focused on the product, which is critical during short-term releases. Put your other ebooks in a backlog for later release.
  2. If you’re in a company, ensure that you have a small marketing team who will handle this launch. Assign a product owner to lead the team, and ensure the rest of your company knows that these employees can’t be distracted by other tasks or activities.
  3. Keep track of your backlog so you know which products are next in line for lean marketing.
  4. Create a user story that can help you identify the goals of your campaign. This helps you to see the product from your customers’ perspectives, which can help you spell out success metrics to your product team.
  5. Plan the duration of the launch. Lean marketing should be looked at as a “sprint,” where you look at the effort that will be required. Use metrics to describe this effort (for example, a scale of 1 through 10) so your team has a better understanding of what needs to be done to complete this campaign.
  6. Commit to the campaign publicly. This ensures that your marketing team is accountable to your company.
  7. Plan daily check-ins, as this can help your team provide updates to other organizational members. Make these check-ins as short as possible so your marketers have time to work on their projects.
  8. Send out daily reports that detail the tasks that have been completed, and what is remaining. This can help your team members determine if they’re going to achieve the deadline set up during Step 5.

Successful Business Demands Efficient Marketing

Agile and flexible marketing campaigns are often those that succeed, as you can quickly change your marketing based on user feedback. This also means you can take advantage of hot trends, publish more content, and continually strive to improve your company’s marketing efforts.

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Todd Mumford