Eric Ries’ Lean Startup claims to be a scientific approach to creating a new business. In the Lean Startup philosophy, companies quickly build the minimum viable product based on their ideas, release the product and measure the response, figure out what works and doesn’t, and then uses that to create the next version. Ries calls this cycle Build-Measure-Learn.
The same principles can equally apply to advertising. In a lean approach to advertising, marketers quickly create ads, watch their effectiveness (easy with online ads: just look at CPC, CTR, and conversions), and then refine the ads based on those results. That should all be standard.
However, it’s the minimum viable product that might be especially revolutionary and jarring to marketers. While we generally want to have a polished ad ready to go before releasing, Lean Startup calls for just launching something before it’s polished. It might not be perfect, but then again, it might not be so bad. Once you start running an ad, you’ll see what customers and potential customers really respond to and what they don’t and can then go back and address their actual reactions. Otherwise, it’s just you as the marketer, in a room, guessing about what the audience will like.
This can be especially useful for landing pages and sales letters. It is often exhausting to go through version after version of a landing or sales page for a product. You want to make it perfect, so you don’t lose any sales. With the lean philosophy, though, instead of worrying about making it perfect, just get it online. See how people respond–it might be good enough as is to make sales and if it is, you’re done. And if it doesn’t work perfectly, you’ll have a better sense of what to change. Next time, we’ll go into how to actually implement lean marketing in your work.
For tips on running AdWords campaigns, check out AdWords University: The Complete Guide to AdWords.