Experiment Your Way to Product/Market Fit
In the world of marketing, everything is a bit chaotic, especially for startups. The uncertainties about the product, its market fit, the value propositions, the competition, and the list goes on.
To begin with, you cannot start with a traditional digital marketing campaign if there is a high possibility of the value proposition changing over time. Also, a website, completely ready in all aspects, is out of scope in the beginning phase of the project.
Value of experiments
As explained in this earlier blog post; starting a business only based on a great idea is wrong. Ideas are the wrong unit of analysis for thinking about innovation, says Michael Schrage, Research Fellow at the MIT Sloan School. And he is right. Ideas can only be validated via business experiments and market “touches”.
Today’s most successful companies, the ones that are “crushing it,” started as a series of crazy ideas. They followed it up with experiments to test just how viable those ideas might be. How did they run these experiments? Check this here.
Companies must trust in the value of experimenting. This is the reason why companies, such as Google, have grown so quickly in short spans of time. They continuously run experiments that are simple, fast, smart, lean and important. Only to those experiments that show traction, bigger budgets are allocated, and the idea is then worked on in more detail.
In today’s’ world, mature companies show their entrepreneurial streak and validate their ideas through experiments. There is one consistent element that we see time and again; companies that succeed take their beta version to the market early and experiment with early adopters.
Using Landing Pages to Experiment
But how do you test your ideas or initial value propositions? You use the internet and, more specifically, microsites that can be created purely for testing purposes and removed quickly.
Using landing pages and a constant flow of various marketing experiments is a great way to find your product/market fit. It’s a strategy that I’ve used often with my former startup company, Cloudalize.
Our product, virtual workstations, was fairly new in the market in 2014, and it hadn’t gained much popularity at the time. During those early days, it was unclear which kind of market would be interested to use the technology. So we created a number of landing pages, with different value propositions for different markets.
The idea is to give the market the opportunity to create reasons to use your product and it opens a channel for you to start talking with them.
To give you an example: You want to know which kind of people, i.e. market, could potentially be interested in your new product. Are you going to prepare a huge marketing campaign and roll it out over the next year? Obviously not! You’ll collate a number of value propositions of your product, based on your initial customer discovery information, and test them via digital marketing experiments with different types of customer ‘persona’, using different sets of channels.
A/B testing of value propositions to 2 markets. Which market will react?
But first, you must do your homework. Check as to which social media has the attention of your target audience. If you sell clothing for young girls, then you should know where they hang out, or more specifically, which social platform has their attention. In this particular case, I would not recommend LinkedIn. You’d have a better chance with Snapchat or Instagram, because that is where you can start talking with your target audience (young girls, in this case) and understand their needs.
But if you sell B2B solutions to professional markets, LinkedIn will possibly be your best choice to test your landing pages. The various experiments you carry out will collectively give direction to your startup venture. Each experiment will reinforce the strategy and tactics of your business model.
Remember, whichever business or department you are in, in the case of early-stage marketing, experiments will show you the direction you need to take.
For more information, feel free to get in touch with me.