Lean Startup in Marketing a New Product

By Beata Mosór-Szyszka

How long did it take to market your product? How much work and how many people were involved? How big was your fear whether the product will be attractive to recipients and whether the sales results will be sufficient? Lean Startup helps in lowering the risk related to marketing a new product as well as reducing its costs and time.

First, let us tell you a few words about the Lean Startup method itself. It originates from the startup trend but is currently used in various organizations, from foundations and non-profits to corporations. Regardless of the industry, it can generate a value in work processes. Lean Startup focuses on direct contact with the end user, providing values and resolving realistic problems of users.

Test it!

Lean Startup is based on testing your business hypotheses. Without means for long-term works, we focus on product-related hypotheses to be tested cheaply and quickly. What does that mean? Instead of building a product for several months only to find out what others think of it after it is released (and sometimes find out that they are completely uninterested), you will build a prototype or a basic version that will present the product’s value for the recipients. Then, you will test this basic version. How is this done?

Use your existing customer communication channels – ask your customers about problems, needs, and expectations related to the field in which your product will be useful. Additionally, you can present your vision for the product and research interest in it at this stage, e.g. in the form of signing up for a special newsletter or product tests.

Example: Dropbox, which is currently used by over 500 million people worldwide started operating this way. It created a simple landing page where a short video was published. In the video, Dropbox creators explained how the service worked. The first users only paid for a promise!

Problem/Solution Fit

Lean Startup turns the way of thinking completely around. Instead of creating a demand for a product, we study what real problems are faced by the recipients and we adjust the solutions to them. We build our product based on this problem-solution fit.

How can you check what problems your recipients face? Just ask! There are many ways – you can use channels where you communicate with your customers (e.g. Facebook), which is something we have already mentioned, you can also use research tools such as a survey, questionnaire or focus group. An observation-like character of the research is the key as well as no suggestions from the researcher, including in the questions. Do not ask your recipients about product features but about their problems and needs.

Example: When preparing the Product Development Days Conference in Krakow, the team completed several dozen interviews with people responsible for creating products at organizations. A list of problems resulted from such interviews and this list was transformed into the conference subjects. Due to the above, 200 tickets were sold during the first edition while this year’s edition will gather approximately 500 people!

Work in a sprint

The term “sprint” originating from the Scrum method means a short period (e.g. 1 or 2 weeks) when a team is focused on resolving a given problem or satisfying a particular need. Many teams working according to the Lean Startup method also work in sprints as one of the ways for a quick and effective supply of a value. It turns out that sprint provides enough time to create and execute an advertising campaign, create a product prototype or its business strategy. Work in sprints enables people to focus on the target while reducing long-term processes and increasing the level of decision-making.

Example: The KRKbot Advertising Campaign (chatbot on Messenger – it responds to questions relating to Kraków) was developed and executed within 5 business days. Thanks to its viral character, on the day of the campaign’s launch, 21,000 people used the chatbot while a dozen or so national and industry-specific media mentioned it. As you can see, the Lean Startup methods can help in achieving spectacular effects when marketing products. It is worth using these methods to increase the competitiveness of your company and its products on the market.

Beata Mosór-Szyszka is a CEO at Project: People and speaker at Product Development Days.

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