In the world of startups, business model development, and customer discovery, there is a concept called the “Minimum Viable Product”, or MVP for short. Minimum Viable Product was popularized by Eric Ries when he published his book, “The Lean Startup”. Eric is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who applied lean management principles to starting a new company.

Lean Startup stresses economic efficiency when by eliminating waste when starting a new business. The model is pretty straight forward, as it’s based on continuous improvement.

  • First, figure out the problem.
  • Next, create the simplest solution possible.
  • Third, test it again and again to discover flaws and enhance the product on a continuous basis.

Through this iterative process, a new company works to pair the product’s features to the direct target persona of the customer. When first starting, the product’s overall value proposition has to reach a tipping point. This is when the “early adopter” segment of the beta market will now reach into their wallet and spend some money.

Agile Development Process

Agile process management is one of the keys to enabling a lean startup with iterative development. In fact, agile really predates the current startup movement with its roots extending all the way back to 2001. Agile started with software development, and has largely replaced the previous management methodology called “waterfall”. Waterfall projects planned out the entire development project in advance, and then attempted to deliver the entire project all at once in one big unveiling.

In contrast, even marketing in many “lean startup” businesses manage marketing with the same kind of waterfall project approach. Typically, marketing must have all the entire campaign with all of the features in place before the campaign begins. Depending upon the complexity of the campaign, it can take months to assemble all of the necessary elements for a campaign – just like the old waterfall method of software development.

In the Lean Startup, the MVP approach says that as long as the very minimum viable product requirements are in place, the product is ready to ship. Then, the product development team will continue to update the product and iterate. This ensures there are regular updates to improve the product on an ongoing basis.

The Minimum Viable Campaign

In the same vein, the minimum viable campaign approaches marketing and marketing process management in the same way. The marketing starts with the simplest platform and features necessary to start amplifying the core message aligned with the product or service. Then, as more and more features are added to the campaign, the organization can expand to multiple markets and campaign features.

This is still a pretty simple, straight-forward concept – taking the MVP approach and applying it to marketing to establish a corresponding minimum viable campaign.

What is the minimum set of technology, creative, and promotional requirements necessary to support a digital marketing campaign?

Understanding how to define the requirements for a minimum viable campaign is still a gap for many organizations. Once the definitions are established, it’s not to difficult of a leap to translate those into an agile marketing management approach. Yet, there’s still a gap in execution. Marketing management simply hasn’t fully evolved to align with product development and service delivery.

The Need For A Model-Driven Approach

Business leadership still doesn’t have a well-defined, systematic approach to building out a marketing campaign structure and corresponding execution platform to rapidly scale. Inside of any marketing campaign, there exists multiple layers of people, process, and information. Separate competencies and skills must work in tune with each other to execute any marketing effort.

Now there’s an even greater need for marketing professionals to create projects and campaigns that are in alignment with the product development features and a road map, plus the IT and financial leadership of an organization.

Aside from the advertising budget, the bulk of the expense in any campaign is the content and creative. The success of marketing content relies upon its ability to induce behavioral action by a prospective or existing customer – whether that marketing content is intended to create social media engagement, registrations to attend a webinar, clicking on the “buy now” button, etc…

Producing content is just one area in a larger series of costly investments in marketing for any business. It’s one of the grey cloud areas any business owner or marketing leader struggles to estimate the cost versus the benefit.

Now add all these great new marketing and ad tech tools. In fact, the marketing tech space has exploded with over 2,000 vendors covering all areas of technology. Some of these tools are costly. This means that marketing wants a larger budget to keep the pace with digital marketing potential. But as a business leader, how do I attach marketing outcomes to budget?

So here are a few more questions…

  • How can I build a framework that shows me where an investment in a product or service feature aligns with my marketing and sales investment?
  • How do I close the gaps in the various skills needed to support the launch of a minimum viable campaign for my company?
  • What marketing technologies and tactics must be implemented to achieve the desired outcomes of my sales process?
  • How do I establish a project plan to build the framework necessary?
  • How do I avoid being trapped in “vendor-driven solution” or understand the ongoing costs related to my marketing technology and ad tech?

The gaps are closed by implementing a process to build the minimum viable campaign structure.

These are the kinds of questions I intend to answer by using a model-driven approach to defining and executing a minimum viable campaign for marketing.

 

Michael Hiles

GenX writer, speaker, mentor, C-level digital, & tech business guy. Sold my first website project in 1994. The rest is history. Serial entrepreneur. I work with lots of startups as managing director of Founder Institute Cincinnati. Bourbon, coffee, Legos, things that explode. Husband & daddy.

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