Digital product studios like Borne have been approached to launch new products from small-scale entrepreneurs to large organisations and we understand that it can be expensive and risky. Whether digital or physical, new product launches require significant development and design. Entrepreneurs get their hopes high that they are launching a product that users will buy into and when this does not happen, it can be catastrophic.
However, there is a way for entrepreneurs to assess customer interest even before building your product — this method is the lean startup. This week, we will explore exactly what lean startup is and provide you with strategies for using the lean startup to launch new innovations and products.
So, What is A Lean Startup? Good Question.
In general terms, a lean startup is a unique approach to building new businesses and products, This method proposed that entrepreneurs should launch a mockup of their idea to validate their assumptions as they develop new products. In other words, instead of building products to 100% completion, entrepreneurs should look to implement tests along the way to ensure that your digital product studio is building what users are looking for to solve a problem.
Let’s take a look at Zappos as an example. Today, we know it as one of the world’s most successful e-commerce platforms, but this was not always the case. Before renting a warehouse and filling it up with inventory, founder Nick Swinmurn wanted to confirm, “Is selling shoes online viable?” This was in 1999, and the e-commerce era was in its infant stages.
When delving into it, Swinmurn visited several local shoe stores, taking photos of their product and loading them onto his website. When an order was placed, he would return to the store, purchase the shoes, and send them to the customer. This was not a scalable model in the long-term, but he answered the question — people were definitely looking for an online source to purchase shoes. With this data, he knew that moving forward with his idea would yield a positive result. This is known as idea validation.
“Risk isn’t risky when you have the right idea!”
Choosing Your Lean Startup Strategy
While Zappo’s lean strategy worked, it is not the only strategy that you can adopt when launching a new digital product. The strategy that you choose should be based on your intended goal, as each strategy will reveal different insights.
What can you learn by launching a lean startup experiment?
With the right strategy in place, you can learn intimate details about your users, their desires, and their intentions. Some of the questions that should be answered with a lean experiment include:
– Have you chosen the right target market?
– Is your marketing strategy effective?
– Is there a demand for what your product is offering?
– Does your product offer the right features?
The key to lean startup is to gather these insights as early as possible so that you are clear on what to build, why you are building it, and who you are building it for; before exhausting the valuable resources necessary to develop it. Not only does a lean startup allow you to validate your assumptions, but it also allows you to create an effective business plan based upon real primary research of your exact customer base.
Great, so now you are familiar with the lean startup and understanding its benefits so let’s talk about how to implement some of the most effective lean startup strategies.
Which Strategy Is Right For You?
The term ‘lean startup’ may be a term, but it is being implemented constantly in your everyday life. Some of the world’s most well-known brands use lean startup right in front of you.
Have you ever noticed a new feature on Facebook that suddenly disappears the next day? In some of these cases, it may have shown up on a family members’ account but not yours? This is Facebook testing new features to a limited audience to gather insights before launching the feature. From large tech companies to small product-based companies, lean startup is everywhere.
Because if you implemented correctly, it can save you both money and time.
So what are some lean startup strategies that your business can implement to improve your concept and validate assumptions regarding your product?
Showcase Products Before They Are Built
Tech has given us the power to intricately display products that have not yet been built. There is extreme power in visuals, and today, we have the power to use visualisations to bring non-existent products to life.
For example, Product-based businesses can use digital 3S models or have prototypes built with a 3D printer to showcase what the products look like and how it works. Software-based businesses can use design screens, prototypes and demos to display how the software will look and how it will function. A picture can say a thousand words and in this case, there is no quantity of words that can equal a great video. Our clients at Goobig have used this strategy brilliantly in promoting videos prelaunch of their product, building anticipation. This can be used to capture the attention of an audience, video or promotional video, live or animated video can be used to capture the attention of an audience, describe the benefits of the product, and introduce them to a solution of a problem — even if that solution has not yet been built.
Testing Your User Intent
Just because someone is a fan of your product, it does not mean that they want to use it. Luckily, you can also run lean experiments to not only gauge customer interest but also their intent to learn more or download your product.
A landing page MVP is often used for this very purpose. In this model, a startup will launch a landing page online that will showcase the product and details its features and benefits. A form on the page allows users to pre-register, sign-up for beta, or to sign up and be informed of the product’s release. Not only does this method allow entrepreneurs to gauge interest in the product, but it also allows them to build up a list of customers who may want to download your product once it is released. A shadow button MVP is similar with one difference. Instead of having a form, the page will have a ‘call-to-action’ button like “Download Now!” Since the product does not exist yet, the page will lead to either an error or a message stating that the product is not available yet. Shadow button MVPs allow entrepreneurs to perfectly gauge how many visitors intended to purchase or download the product.
Many startups take this concept a step further and choose to pre-sell their product; another fantastic lean startup strategy. Using crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, startups are able to introduce their concepts to real customers, sell the product and earn revenue before the product has been built.
Running A/B Comparison Tests
So, have a great product. But does it offer the features that consumers are seeking? There’s only one way to know — test it. By using A/B comparison tests, startups can gather insights on what features consumers will buy into and which they won’t.
How can you complete a successful A/B comparison for lean startup testing?:
– Launch a landing page that describes a specific set of product features.
– Launch a second landing page that has one (and only one) feature change.
– Measure the results of these two pages against each other. Which one performed better? Which feature-set garnered the most interest by customers? Which got the most signups?
– Keep the feature set with the best customer metrics.
– Change another feature and repeat the process until the optimal product has been developed.
Moving From Lean to Green
You can quickly move from the ideation stage to the revenue generation stage by implementing the right lean startup strategies which reduce waste and maximises the potential of success.
Testing does not end. Once we have optimised your product for a perfect market fit, the rest of your strategy should be tested too. Run experiments on your marketing strategies before investing your entire budget. Test new markets effectively before scaling into them. Your lean startup strategy doesn’t have to be attractive, it just needs to be effective.