Becoming a Lean, Mean, Marketing Machine
Too many companies start out with an idea of what their customers want, then devote significant resources to deliver a complete solution based on that idea. If they fail, or if a rapidly-changing marketplace soon renders their solution obsolete, it means countless hours and investment down the drain.
Other companies attempt to avoid this by following a “Lean” approach. Popularized in the book “Lean Startup” by Eric Ries, it teaches businesses to “fail fast” — getting their solution out quickly, so they can start the process of refining it. The defining characteristic of the Lean methodology is continuous innovation, and that means testing, analyzing, refining and testing again in what Ries calls a “build-measure-learn feedback loop.”
It’s doesn’t take a huge stretch of the imagination to see how Lean principles can be applied to marketing. A data-driven Lean approach can save time, help justify marketing spend, and help you avoid wasting resources on complex campaigns which deliver disappointing results.
A Four-Step Lean Marketing cycle
Ready to get started? Here is an easy, four-step process for applying Lean principles to your marketing activities.
- Identify your opportunities: You you don’t need to revamp your entire marketing plan to implement Lean Marketing. In fact, it may be best to start small, especially if you’re new to the approach.
Try choosing just one campaign to start. You can pick something which isn’t working as well as you’d like, or maybe something that works well enough, but that you’d suspect might perform better with a few adjustments.
- Gather your base information: In the initial phase, you will want to gather some data about this base campaign. A good way to do this is to define some KPIs, which are quantifiable metrics used to define and measure progress toward a business goal.
(If you’re unfamiliar with using KPIs, download our white paper “The ABCs of KPIs,” for some background information.) If you already have analytics, you might be able to use your data to extrapolate your KPIs. If not, you may want to run the campaign for a length of of time and measure KPIs as you go.
- Run experiments: Start testing different scenarios using your base campaign as a control. You may experiment with variables like visuals and layout, call to action, media mix or keywords. Whatever you test, make sure that you have a clear idea of the results you are looking for before you begin, and make sure the variables you’re not testing should remain as similar as possible.
- Analyze and refine: Once the initial testing phase is over, see which experiments delivered the best results. Quite often, it will be obvious what you need to change. Implement the changes your test points to, then start the process over again. With each cycle, you’ll gain more data you can use to refine your efforts.
One of the key Lean Marketing principles is constant learning. By testing, analyzing, improving and testing again, you should be able to gain insights on how to improve marketing performance over time. It doesn’t matter if the improvements are sudden incremental, large or small. As long as you’re willing to test your assumptions, and open to change what isn’t working optimally, growth can happen.
The main lesson to learn from a Lean approach? It’s OK to fail, as long as you keep trying. Marketers who operate with a growth mindset will see failures as opportunities for improvement. Success may come slowly, but it will come.
This article is a preview of a soon-to-be-published white paper from The Seattle Times. To receive the full paper once it’s published, visit mediakit.seattletimes.com. And if you’re looking for additional information, or have specific questions, contact your account representative or call 206.464.2400.
REI #OptOutside campaign takes top prize at One Show
One of the most-prestigious awards competitions in the industry, the One Show recognizes creative excellence in advertising, design, entertainment and interactive media. This year, the local retailer REI took Best of Show honors for its #OptOutside campaign. As you may remember, REI caused a splash last year by choosing to close on Black Friday, asking employees and potential customers to spend the day “experiencing the outdoors.” rather than shopping for the holidays. Advertising Age called the customer-inspired, out-of-the-box campaign a “model for the future of marketing.”
Twitter easing 140-character limit
In what could be an effort to boost its shrinking user base, Twitter plans to stop counting photos and links toward its 140-character limit. In a statement earlier this year, CEO Jack Dorsey said the company was looking for new ways to give users more flexibility on the site. Allowing users more room for their messages may encourage them to add more media to their posts. The change is expected to take place around the first week in June.
Marketing Events Calendar
Don’t miss these upcoming Seattle area marketing-focused events.
Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce — Tradeshow 2016
June 8, 3–7 p.m.
State Convention Center: Exhibit Hall 4B
800 Convention Place, Seattle, WA 98101
Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce — IN-NW Digital Innovation Series: The Dynamics of Digital
June 14, noon–1:30 p.m.
Microsoft Events Center at the Seattle Metro Chamber
1301 Fifth Ave., Suite 1500, Seattle, WA 98101
PSAMA – Inclusive Marketing: Engaging with LGBT Audiences
June 15, 12:30–2 p.m.
621 Union Street, Seattle, WA 98101
American Advertising Federation – Branding Bud
June 15, 6:30–9:30 p.m.
Pike Place Market Atrium Loft
85 Pike St., Seattle, WA 98101
Bellevue Chamber of Commerce — 2016 Eastside Leadership Conference
June 24, 7 a.m.–2 p.m.
Microsoft Conference Center in Redmond
16070 NE 36th Way, Redmond, WA 98052
The revamped Seattle Times Autos to launch June 1
With a sleeker, simpler, more visually interesting interface and some nifty new features, The Seattle Times Autos will represent the premium local online source to find vehicles and automotive service specials. With just a few clicks, prospective buyers can narrow down cars by make, model and dealer. Dealer inventory will be automatically updated weekly, so it remains current. And the new Autos site will be fully-responsive and mobile-optimized, to better reach consumers on the go. We’re planning to launch it June 1, so make a note to take it for a test drive in a few weeks.
Contact your account executive today
206.464.2400 • seattletimes.com/mediakit
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