I’m Cordell Giesen. I’ve spent more than two decades evolving as a tech entrepreneur and advertising executive, and I’ve worked with many national and international clients and brands including Anheuser-Busch, Sleep Train, Toyota, and CBS. They’ve all wanted a better and more efficient way to combine advertising, social media and technology, and I’ve helped them (and many other companies) get into the minds of consumers, understand targeted markets, and deliver products and services that customers are excited to buy.
“Deliver products that customers are excited to buy.”
Years ago, when the integration between consumers and technology was a fresh, new concept, I began to see the impact that technology had on clients of all types and sizes. When I was building my first technology start up, I realized that much of the client development, customer development, marketing and advertising advice that was out there was either outdated or just plain inefficient. The impact of technology allowed for better testing of ideas.
“The impact of technology: testing ideas.”
During my first technology start up, I started to see a movement happening within the now infamous Silicon Valley. It was called, “The Lean Startup.” If you’re not familiar with it, a professor at Stanford University named Steve Blank substantiated the concept. He wrote a book called, The Four Steps To The Epiphany (Great book; horrible name).
However, the concept didn’t really gain momentum until one of his students, Eric Reis, wrote a related book called (you guessed it…) The Lean Startup. Since then, a number of great books have been written to take the philosophy of “The Lean Startup” movement and break it down into more actionable steps. The idea was actually invented in Japan and attributed to Toyota, and it’s one of the reasons Japan’s auto industry has done so well. You can learn more about the Lean Startup concept here, on its Wikipedia page.
Essentially, “Lean” is centered on, “making obvious what adds value by reducing everything else.” In other words, let’s save marketers time and valuable resources by designing a system that allows them to test ideas before they launch advertising campaigns. This, my friends, is my mission.
“Make obvious what adds value by reducing everything else.”
Before we, as marketers, can succeed in the market with a better approach, we must get our minds moving in the best direction for your company/brand. Most of the ideas mentioned below are counter-intuitive; they may be easy to understand once you’ve learned them, but still difficult to practice.
For example, there is a large Marketing Automation company called Act-On. Their Google ad says “Act-On is a marketing automation software platform with email marketing, lead nurturing, lead scoring, CRM integration, social media & tracking tools.” What does that mean to the consumer? What problem are they solving? Do I really need them?
The Lean Advertising process isn’t difficult because of the tasks themselves; it’s tricky because the way in which you need to perform them is probably different than the way that you’ve done most typical marketing in your business life
“Get your mind moving in the best direction.”
As I mentioned earlier, being “lean” means making obvious what adds value by reducing everything else. In “The Lean Start up,” Reis highlights a process called “validated learning.” You don’t necessarily have to have read the book to get going, but you do have to be willing to:
- Run small experiments to test and learn who your customer base is.
- Risk failing often, in order to discover and learn more.
- Focus on the customer, even if you’re not quite sure who they are.
- Use technology to discover the customer’s real problem to be solved.
- Once the problem has been discovered, test solutions using your service or product line.
- Scale advertising ONLY when the marketplace has validated your Service or product line.
Here’s something that’ll probably sound obvious to you, but can’t be said enough: Focus on the customer. Most businesses focus on the product or service and not on the actual problem that they are solving — but here’s the truth: Customers don’t really care about your company’s marketing solution, features, or even technology. They only care about one thing: “Can you solve my problem?”
You’ve got to interact with your customers — It’s the only way to get a full understanding of the problem that needs solving. Our main goal should always be to get inside the head of the consumer and really understand what motivates them. No marketing analysis or even personal experience can really tell us; only experimentation and interaction with the customers will provide you with the answers you need. Luckily, the internet and social media have made it easier than ever to save time, money and resources while testing and getting to know your customers.
“Can you solve my problem?”
As part of my “Lean Advertiser” series, I’m sharing with you the steps to manage the ever-growing social media tools and other technologies in order to become a better marketer, save massive amounts of money, and avoid more costly mistakes later on. The steps that follow will become your blueprint to survive and thrive in today’s competitive and diverse market.