You've probably tried dozens of marketing strategies for your startup. But nothing seem to work. You've spent hundreds of dollars with nothing to show for except a few Tweets and Facebook posts. Many founders and entrepreneurs struggle with marketing, especially if they don't come from a sales or marketing background.
The thing is, if you're in the startup world and been following Eric Reis's work, The Lean Startup, you already have the foundation of a smart and effective marketing strategy. In fact, if you're currently implementing the Build-Measure-Learn feedback loop in creating your product, that's great news! You can actually translate these principles and apply it to marketing as well.
In the event you're not familiar with The Lean Startup, here's a quick rundown of the Build-Measure-Learn Feedback Loop:
- Build an MVP (minimum viable product), a product with only the core features that you can immediately launch.
- Measure and test your assumptions about your product and target market.
- Learn. Learn from the tests and figure out your next move. You either persevere or pivot until you create a great, profitable product.
What is Lean Marketing?
If your startup is lean, then your marketing should be just as lean. While there are thousands if not millions of pages on the internet discussing the lean startup method in great detail, there’s no strict system about lean marketing.
But we can translate the Build-Measure-Learn feedback loop to creating any piece of content or running any type of marketing campaign.
Create. First, create an MVC (Minimum Viable Content) and run tests to validate your assumptions for a piece of content or a type of campaign. Let’s say you want to create a fun quiz to capture leads. Before hiring a quiz expert to write the quiz and subscribing to a quiz tool, what is the minimum viable content that you can create? For example, you can simulate the quiz on your Facebook page using attractive graphics.
Measure the results. What was the response on your Facebook post? How many people did it reach? How many likes and comments did it get? While it is not a definitive way to test whether the quiz works as a lead magnet, it gives you an idea whether it is a topic and format that your existing customers already engage with.
Learn. Just like in the Build-Measure-Learn feedback loop, this part is where you either persevere or pivot. Let’s say the initial response was good but it did not reach the specific numbers you’ve set. You’re still convinced that fun quizzes is a great way to capture leads. To persevere is to create a short quiz using free tools that are already available. To pivot is to try the same topic but using a different platform or piece of content.
Lean Marketing at Work
When I was building the sales funnel for our startup, OneStop.Live, the lean marketing strategy not only helped our company save us a lot of time and manpower but it also saved us money. OneStop.Live is an online marketplace for live streamers and broadcasters. Businesses can go to our marketplace, find broadcasters, and book them to create high quality live videos for their business.
As any marketplace, one of our first goals is to make sure that we have a healthy number of service providers . My goal was to figure out a way to attract potential live streamers that will eventually sign up on our site and list their services.
My assumption: A comprehensive ebook about how live streamers are making money through Facebook Live is a good way to capture emails of live streamers and broadcasters.
Minimum Viable Content: eBook Cover
In order to produce a 10-page ebook, it will take hours of research and more hours to write it. Plus, I’d have to pay a designer around $50-$100 to design the ebook. I want the ebook to be visually attractive, too!
Tests: Facebook Lead Ads
I created a Facebook Lead ad, used the ebook cover as the image of the ad, and ran the campaign for one day. What’s great about Facebook Lead ads is that you don’t need a landing page in order to capture email. When a user clicks on sign up or download (depending on the action button you choose), a pop up will appear and they can enter their email and other details without leaving Facebook. It’s a win-win for both. I just made sure to include in the form that the ebook will be delivered as soon as it’s available.
Total time spent: 30 Minutes
- 10 minutes talking to the designer to design a simple ebook cover
- 20 minutes setting up the ad
Total cost spent: $20
Result: The Facebook ad was a bust. There were only 3 sign ups out of the 2000 people it reached.
My assumption that an ebook about how to make money from Facebook Live is a good way to capture leads is wrong.
I did more research, surveys, and tests and later discovered that our target audience prefers video courses instead of ebooks.
But I didn’t go and build a complete video course, I then conducted another series of tests to make sure that the assumption is correct. You just keep going until you have all the necessary pieces in place to create the full marketing campaign.
Now, it might seem like you will end up in a never-ending loop of tests that you will never reach the end. A few key things to remember:
- Define clear, measurable goals with deadlines.
- Don’t run multiple tests at a time.
- Consistently publish content in platforms where your target audience hang out (Facebook, Twitter, Quora, etc.) while you are figuring out a scalable marketing campaign or building your sales funnel.