Unfortunately when it comes to entrepreneurs and startups, there are so many places to invest your time it's difficult to know where to best spend your energy. Entrepreneurs typically shy away from strategy because they believe it's time intensive and expensive. However, creating a minimum and lean strategy is possible and is in the best interest of the organization's growth and sustainability.
Think of it this way ─ would you build a house without a blueprint? Entrepreneurs and startups need a strategy (or a blueprint) and need a marketer (an architect) who can work within their budget, timeframe, and requirements.
You can use your same lean methodology that you are applying to your product or service and apply that to your marketing strategy. Laying the framework to understand your target audience, positioning yourself in the market to stand out from the competition, and learning how to connect with your audience will set you on the path to success. Then make tweaks and optimize your marketing as you go to make sure your marketing strategy is evolving as quickly as your business is.
How do we know this works? Our CEO, Jay Feitlinger, has a passion for startups and has launched several small businesses in the past, so he understands the world that entrepreneurs live in – fast, crazy, and TONS of decisions to make. Due to Jay’s experience and network, we receive many calls from startups asking for help with business strategy and digital marketing, but they want the help on their timeline and within their lean budget. They don’t have the resources to go through a comprehensive 60 – 90 day process to align their business and their target audience, especially when they aren’t sure who their target audience is and are trying to get their product or service off the ground. Since our team loves digital strategy and enjoys giving back to the community, we took the earlier part of 2015 to analyze our digital strategy process for our established B2B clients and worked with some startups to create a custom model that we are calling a Minimum Viable Strategy (MVS).
At StringCan, we believe in the “aim and then shoot” philosophy, and we applied this to the MVS. Some startups simply need help knowing where to start and need an agile strategy solution to ensure that they are going in the right direction that pairs with their lean business model. Our MVS strategy can be this solution for your business, and can confirm whether or not you are positioning your business correctly.
Before I dive into the 5 Step Minimum Viable Strategy process on how startups or fast growth seeking companies should leverage strategy to efficiently and effectively manage their digital marketing efforts, hear from Endless Entertainment, an event production company, on how they used a Minimum Viable Strategy (MVS) to better understand their audience and optimize their marketing efforts.
5 Step Minimum Viable Strategy Process
1. Get Real & Aligned
As our CEO shared in a recent blog article about FOMO (Fear Of Missed Opportunities), entrepreneurs often get distracted by the “what if’s”. It’s understandable; you are worried that by drilling down and focusing on a specific target audience, you will miss out on opportunities to engage with other consumers or markets.
We have seen time and time again that lack of focus will often lead to no results. As a result you cast a wide net and try to appeal to everyone. However, this typically backfires because your messaging ends up resonating with no one. What you need to do is uncover the current gaps in your business, define who your audience is, and align your company to the needs of your audience.
2. Ask The Hard Questions
As an entrepreneur, you have so many things to focus on; it’s hard to know where to start! We find that if you are able to ask yourselves and your team the hard questions, it will help you think about your business in a new way. For example, here are some sample questions we suggest you ask yourself and your team, “What is the main pain point our audience has that we can help solve?”, “What would trigger them to look for us?”, or “How would they find us?”.
3. Look For The Gaps
After you have a better understanding of who your audience is, look for the gaps that your business may have when trying to connect with them. Is your audience searching online for terms that your website isn’t currently showing up for or won’t show up for due to the level of online noise or competition? Do your competitors use similar messaging that will make it all seem like white noise to your audience?
Think deeply about who your audience is and start looking online as if you were that persona so you can uncover the missed opportunities that you can capitalize on.
4. Where To Start
When you are living in your business, moving a million miles per hour, you often can’t see the forest through the trees. There are so many ways to engage and connect with your audience that you end up doing a little bit of everything, which translates into a lot of nothing.
Instead, create a roadmap of the key areas you are going to focus on first that would be the lowest hanging fruit to engaging with your audience. Then start to map out each step you need to take to engage with your audience on that platform. For example, if your audience is active on LinkedIn, create a LinkedIn company page and frequently post updates with content that will resonate with your audience.
5. Optimize As You Go
Staying true to the lean methodology, you need to be agile and evolve your process and strategy as you go. Measure all your marketing efforts so you are able to track what is working and what isn’t working.
As you learn what is getting you results, adjust your focus to put your effort into the things that are working. As you get more efficient in your process, add new tactics and/or platforms that could help you engage with your audience.
Are you having trouble defining your audience or knowing where to invest your resources when it comes to online marketing? Connect with us to learn more! Let us know what questions you have below.
Image by Schmidt-Curley via Flickr CC