One of the key concepts in Lean Startup methodology is the Build – Measure – Learn cycle. The idea behind this is that many companies spend months or years building products without ever showing them to prospective customers to figure out if they even want the thing. If it turns out that the product is not compelling, the company fails and that money and effort is wasted.
The better way to go about product development is to make sure that you get features in front of customers as soon as possible. Consider each new feature release to be an experiment: go in with a hypothesis about what value you think the customer will get from the product (or the feature) and a way to measure the results. Once you’ve collected your data your hypothesis will be either validated or invalidated; either way, you’ll have learned something about the customer and will have some good ideas about where to go next.
How does this translate to marketing? In my last slide I noted that a lot of times when companies come to me I can see they’ve done a fine job at the Build portion. They’ve set up their social media, hired a PR team and gotten some placements, run some PPC ads, set up their blog, etc. But the three parts of the cycle are like the three legs of a stool; if they aren’t all present, the stool just dumps you on your butt. Where I find companies having problems is in the Measure and Learn legs. They are out there swinging away, but they haven’t set up any way of figuring out if they are being successful because they don’t know how to set up a proper metrics regimen, and without the numbers you’re not likely to learn anything of value.
So let’s pull out our woodworking tools and figure out how to make a nice, useful stool that doesn’t tip you to the ground, okay? Next up: The Minimum Viable Investment.