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How to Make Your Startup Marketing Work Smarter

By Leilani Yau

Do you believe in “instant ROI?” In a startup (or even a more established company), you may have the urge to create a marketing strategy based on internal thinking or gut feelings — and voilà! — expect those customers to come clamoring. But what if your marketing is a big flop? And how do you know what will stick without spending a fortune?

Try a Lean Marketing Approach

It’s time to think like a lean startup: put learning first, then apply it to become more efficient in your marketing. With careful planning, testing, learning and improving, you can get to good ROI for your marketing spend over a reasonable amount of time.

Here’s the Process: Test, Learn, Optimize

The idea is that instead of pouring all your marketing eggs into one big basket, you break it up into smaller pieces and test a variety of ideas, then focus your dollars and energy on what works best. Then use the shampoo algorithm: lather, rinse, repeat!

A Lean Marketing Approach
A Lean Marketing Approach
  • Test.
    First, using research or your best knowledge about the situation, set up a testing strategy. What variables do you think provide the biggest leverage — target audience, messaging, creative, images, landing pages, offer, etc?
  • Learn.
    Next, set up, collect and analyze the metrics that make the most sense for your business. Whether it’s direct customer feedback, cost per click or engagement metrics, insights from your tests will guide you in the right direction.
  • Optimize.
    Last, make modifications to the baseline marketing. Be prepared to change things quickly based on what you’ve learned. Develop new hypotheses to test and start again.

EM Marketing-Lean Marketing-TruSignal

Learn Quickly. Make Better Decisions.

The goal of lean marketing is to learn as much as you can, spending as little money and energy as possible. Then focus, adjust and re-adjust your marketing efforts. In this digital age, you can take steps to quickly (we’re talking several weeks, not half a year) learn who your target market is, what tools and vehicles work best to reach them, and what the best messages and offers are.

As Harvard Business Review has described the test and learn approach, “the goal is not to conduct perfect experiments; it is to make better decisions.” Forget that hunch you have about how a marketing tactic might perform. Instead, stay grounded in your efforts with real customer feedback and data that can ultimately boost your marketing ROI over time. Now that’s working smarter!

If you’d like to learn more about lean marketing and how it might work for your next project, contact us at EM Marketing.

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About Leilani Yau

Leilani Yau is a digital marketing consultant, specializing in content marketing and social media for small businesses and non-profits, and helps clients L.O.V.E. (Listen, Offer, Value, Engage) their target audiences online.

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