A Lean Marketing Focus on Short Sprints to Win the Long Race

By Nick Bentley

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For startups looking to develop products that have long-term selling power without creating an out-of-control budget or losing focus, lean marketing has proven to be a sound and successful plan. Lean marketing adopts a fast-track for development—dubbed sprints—which focuses on bringing a concept to market validation as quickly as possible. By side-stepping the long research and development phases that can jack up costs, lean marketing gives you a way to keep cash burn down, get metered results and ultimately, develop an optimized product that sells.

Concept to Market Validation

When most startups develop a product, they start off with a notion that there is a demand for said product. That’s fine, if you didn’t believe there was, you’d be off to a bad start. But rather than just believe that and spend months or even years working towards a launch that might eventually fail (pick a reason: the market changed, competition beat you to it, your demand assessment was wrong, etc.), doesn’t it make more sense to test it each step of the way and know it’s going to sell?

That’s the general concept behind a lean marketing strategy: to take your concept and release it into the market at a MVP, or minimum viable product. A MVP is simply the most basic stage in product development where you know your product will sell—get that MVP out there for testing! This “just do it” attitude has launched thousands of successful startups, helping them hit growth spurts that exceed the developers’ expectations by far. The key here is to break everything down into smaller steps, making sure your goal is in-line with your actualities, and if not, pivoting to readjust your course to meet your goals.

Small Sprints Win the Long Race

To do this, bigger goals are broken down into smaller sprints. A sprint is simply a quick burst towards a short-term goal, focused with extreme clarity. These can be performed in teams or as individuals, but the point is to set a clear and precise goal that is attainable within a week or two and then burst towards that goal. There are many elements to the sprint, including stating your goals in public to stay accountable, throwing all ideas that come about during your sprint onto a backlog (for later evaluation so as not to confuse your current sprint) and keeping an updated burndown chart which shows how many tasks in the sprint you have left to go.

As your sprints continue, you start to get your finger on the market’s reactionary pulse to your product in its current and evolving form. You can accomplish this by using tools that constantly test your vision, monitoring metrics to see how your product is performing and scrutinizing your assumptions. This all centers around getting out of the concrete think tank and putting your ideas out there into the market in the smartest way possible—the lean marketing way.

Develop Actionable Metrics

A big key to your success here is the development of actionable metrics—that is to say, ways that you can monitor the assumptions you are making and take action to correct any false steps you might have made. Flexibility will be the drive and focus here, with experimentation and iteration taking the front seat. The endgame here is not to be cheap with your startup push, but find a more effective way to develop and launch your product by failing cheap.

While that might sound like an odd concept, think of it this way: every startup is going to fail at some point or the other, be it large or small. Would you rather fail cheap or fail expensively when you do? The goal is to minimize your big failures so that any setback you incur is just a minor scrape, not a mortal wound that bleeds cash out. To find out more about how you can set actionable metrics and set yourself up for optimal gains, click here  right now.

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