In the start-up world, the concept of a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) has become popularized as a way to think about product creation.
It’s described by Eric Ries in The Lean Startup as
the version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.
I think about marketing in a similar way.
Every B2B or SaaS company needs a few minimum pieces of marketing infrastructure in place to to discover what works, what needs optimization, and what should be done next (although the unfortunate reality is that most large enterprises still lack these fundamental building blocks).
To me, a Minimum Viable Marketing System looks like this:
- Focus. Selection of a distinct key audience who you can serve.
- Differentiation. A simple promise and set of key themes that inform your outreach so you are recognized as unique. For example, Bonobos with “The Perfect Fit.”
- Nurture. An automated sequence that goes out to all new subscribers and opt ins, gets them up to speed on how you’re different, and what you do, and also works to drive conversions with…
- Proof & Trial/Entry Point. This is about giving your audience a simple, low-cost (remember low cost is relative depending your market) way to engage with your company. This may mean an entry-level audit, a paid introductory subscription, etc. This trial is supported by social proof – testimonials, results, whatever, to prove you’ve got the stuff to deliver.
Key: This trial must be paid. People do not value what they get free. This goes for high-dollar enterprise offerings and service companies as much as low cost SaaS offerings.
- Amplification. Social, email, paid media – some way to get your larger messages out to the world. I prefer paid channels because the knobs are most easily tweaked and traffic is then available on-demand. Things like guest blogging are unreliable.
Start running and sending messages without these key elements in place and you’re left scattered.
You won’t know what to tweak, what’s not working or why, or where to go next.