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5May 2017

Marketing’s role in the age of lean start-ups and agile design

Thursday, 30 March 2017, as published on NZ Business – the Owner Manager’s Magazine.

Why it’s vital to understand the best ways to reach and convert potential buyers before launching into markets – both local and overseas. 

Lean development and agile design is the process of testing a concept and product through the development process to learn early and quickly whether there’s a market for your great idea and whether it truly solves a problem faced by real people or businesses – before you’ve invested huge amounts to create and launch an elegant, fully developed product.

Throughout this process marketing can be overlooked, and with it a significant opportunity missed.

Marketing is an essential function even at the earliest stages of validation. Whether or not you call it marketing, you’re actually using marketing tools to uncover unmet needs and test your product, but it’s the other marketing activities that are often overlooked.

“Too often we see start-ups who’ve put their effort and resources into developing their app or product only to find that they have no plan to reach their market at launch. They come to us asking for help with the market validation and launch planning very late in the process,” says Nicole Crump, Managing Director at marketing consultancy Tactix.  “They’ve missed a crucial stage to develop and plan for how to get customers while they’ve been testing and developing just their product with potential customers.

“In conjunction with iterative product development and testing, these businesses need to be seeking insights around all the customer facing activities that will happen from launch.”

Integrating marketing into the lean development process from day one
Integrating marketing at the outset, will enable you to clearly be able to state what it is you have to offer and why it is better than other solutions or approaches your potential customers may be using – to plan the on-boarding process to get people using your software/product and the ongoing customer engagement process to keep them.  This is one of the biggest challenges that lean start-ups and software companies are facing – large and small, says Crump.

The aim is to have already figured out the best ways to reach and convert potential buyers before launching into market.

Tips for discovering and testing, rather than planning in isolation
When working with businesses these are some of the key areas we look at as a fundamental place to get started to give businesses the greatest chance of success when they launch.
You need to plan early on to capture the information you need. Get out and talk to potential customers early on to test your MPV (Minimum Viable Product) and validate the opportunity.

Use these discussions to discuss and plan the following:
•    The product/service you need to offer.
•    Your value proposition and easiest and most profitable customer segments to target.
•    Your planned marketing and sales channels.
•    Whether after-sales support will be required and how best to deliver this.
•    Find a great tool to manage your sales pipeline.
•    Make a plan for moving customers through the onboarding process so they can become paying customers.