Making small bets, will create a big discovery.

Tonight we drink tea in the land of snow and ice. This weeks winter sport will be snow shoeing excursion, slow and steady, rough and ready I will be.

Yes its cold tonight, but I am certainly enjoying watching the olympics and seeing our USA take home some gold. Amazing to see so much love and devotion to making it to the olympics and maintaining strong passion and drive to fulfill their dreams. Its olympic time, not just in Sochi, but right here in our own businesses in our own lives.

This week we will talking about what it takes to make safe experiments as you determine how to test your ideas.The lean movement whether it be through lean manufacturing, lean startup or lean distribution as it has created powerful awareness around some fantastic visualization techniques that they have been used to help new businesses identify solutions to the changing, and at times brand new, needs of customers in challenging new markets.

As larger marketers and media companies become familiar with concepts like validated learning, business model generation, and pivots, they are asking how they can implement Enterprise Lean Distribution. Are there best practices that they can take from this revolution to help them better answer their own ongoing questions about what products  their customers would want?

Absolutely YES!

Enterprise Lean Distribution can be a reality, with some proper training and preparation. Many start ups and small companies operate in a the space of small agile products sold to customers, making frequent delivery and feedback very achievable. This kind of environment also offers the opportunity to collect many data points in the form of things like purchase rate, return rate, retention with continuity, referral rate, and revenue tracking. Large marketers that are bigger than many independent small creative groups, have less of a captive audience denying them traditional market feedback. Furthermore, publicly traded institutions are frequently accountable to shareholders and the demands of longterm plans that crave an absolute feeling of certainty. Saying “I don’t know” or “Let’s try an experiment that may fail” can be met with outright hostility in these types of businesses.

Understanding the nature of a large marketer or media company and the nature of their challenges, is vital in learning to implement these principles. A small product marketer with one product or a small line,  has a very high threshold for uncertainty; they want something unexpected to happen, if they continue in the same way, that would mean they continue to be small. Big marketers, on the other hand, have a  interest in preserving the DRTV market and retail positions they have established. In order to implement these ideas, let’s have a look at four key concepts that Marketers need to address in order to realize the effectiveness of a build, measure, learn loop.

  1. Make it safe to experiment- this is simple,  make small easy to measure experiments that allow truth to prevail, experiments that don’t make or break the project, the organization or the person creating them.  Here is an example when you are launching a product, always launch two, launch a second brand and test it in a closed format with specific customers in a small group. Not in a big way, where it will effect the view of your brand. You can do this with products through live events, online by creating separate branded product concepts on several different webpages positioned differently in the market and by running media to them to measure engagement and price, create a place of ultimate understanding in your organization where testing the smallest things is crucial, important and safe to do.
  2. Create your own measurement system- What I mean by this is find a way to test inexpensively, when you conceive an idea in an organization. Don’t just go make it. Conceptualize as a team, give someone the executive decision making authority to move forward with experiments, testing and documenting your way through the product development experience. For example, lets say you are creating a new makeup product and your not sure what the founders story and ingredients should be, Ask  and keep on asking? Create your “hero” products in concept like with a rendering, create a site, as many sites as you have concepts, run media through various methods and measure the sales. You can also measure interest with relatively inexpensive online surveys and live sales at special events in various retailers.Make this part of your  method of product launch, create small bets before you make the big bet on that product being the next winner or not.
  3. Create a plan to move through experiments and get to the finished sellable product.We have talked about making it safe to fail and creating a way to measure success and failure, but we have to go further. Humans long to validate what we believe, this confirmation bias can cause our peers to look for validating evidence and simply not see contradictory results. Did you see that? You know the contradictory results.  This  is powerful, and can even show itself in the creation of experiments where organizations may only select exercises that prove their beliefs and fail to identify ones that would seek to disprove possible ideas related to the product.  If all of the experiments validate theories, this means they are not pushing the boundaries of what real depth of learning and knowledge there is to be found about this product.  When you are creating a new product there must be an identified plan for what you will do if the experiment succeeds. There should be a plan on what to do if it fails. Marketers development teams will even need to be given guidelines such as they should have an idea some number of experiments that will fail. This is important for two reasons, one it means that some failures are actually part of the plan, this will negate all those negative nellies around your life and office. Two, it broadens the horizon of options and ideas that we explore. It is assumed that the experiment where we offer customers fewer choices with regard to the product, it will result in fewer sales, but imagine how that would impact our business, if it showed us the exact opposite.The nature of experimentation process does not mean no structure. In fact, clearly defined experiments within a highly controlled experimental environment are critical to successful learning and and growth in a product concept or idea.
  4. Align feedback with strategy- It is key in testing any concept to ask questions that are aligned with the products strategy in the marketplace. Making sure your product is systematically being developed by asking thought provoking questions about the Why of its existence are crucial. Going from a manufacturing line mentality to a laboratory mentality is crucial in making this product successful. The final issue that many marketers have about running tests to validate learning comes from a poor understanding of what the goal is in the organization, it appears people conceive of product development as a  factory line or drive through. In this mindset, any motion that does not add to the construction of the final product is seen as a waste of time and effort. Tests are seen as a bad alternate plan for “good analysis” and a waste of effort. Iterations of the product concept founded upon the live learning is thought to be “rework” that was in the original plan. Rather than considering the marketing teams work to be running an assembly line, where we are simply creating a stale recreated product over and over, we should try to view the sales and marketing work, as well as the development and manufacturing of the product to be more like that of a scientific study. Beginning with an informed hypothesis that we are simply looking to test and validate. Just apply the good ole’ scientific method to the product. Of course, we cannot guarantee what we will discover, with some long thought and  light preparation we can do it in a safe and valuable way. In planning, it needs to be set up to help us figure out exactly how we are going to watch and channel the results of our experiments,  and observations into the finished product which we will talk about in Part 2.

Stay tuned for next week! Hope you are having a great night! If you would like to find out more about me, please visit my personal site., or our corporate site



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