The end of the era of long-term strategies. What works now?
As the entrepreneur and marketer with 18 years of experience, I clearly understood how important it is to develop the right effective strategy for many years to come. At 5, and preferably at 10. The cases on which my "strategic" mind was brought up, were mostly based on the classic foreign experience and, of course, seemed the only right solution for almost any area of business.
But change was inevitable. And now it is safe to say that classic marketing is dead. This did not happen yesterday, in early March, or with the advent of quarantine. This is not force majeure or "black swan". Toward that, the world has been moving relentlessly for ten years and has accelerated exponentially recently.
The consumer changed, the market changed, communication and marketing changed. Demand disappeared, the choice appeared. The choice of the consumer, which he makes in his head, guided only by one clear criteria. The task of marketing has become an attempt to guess these criteria.
Many criteria, many different parameters, even more, different limitations — how to build a strategy that can cope with such a non-trivial task? Given the fact that tomorrow everything may be different.
Classic marketing is dead — it was replaced by the LEAN approach.
For the last three years, I have been using this approach for managing my own business and in client projects. Now that I see how the world has changed under the influence of the coronavirus, I am convinced that this is the best technology for conditions of instability and limitations. Probably that's why my business has changed minimally — we were ready, already working as if tomorrow could be different.
So, what are the basic principles of the LEAN approach, or even philosophy — if we consider it for general areas of life:
1. Strategy is still important, but it is different.
The value of the ultimate goal grows. We must know, remember it always, at every step of our way. Understand what exactly we want to get and most importantly — why?
Very often in business processes or communication projects, we "slip" on the spot, bringing to perfection individual details, spending resources and time, ignoring the final result.
LEAN is a search for something new, an experiment and a quick conclusion. Allow yourself to experiment, but don't forget to measure the effectiveness not only of each step but also of each tool in your experiment.
Analysis — hypothesis — implementation — measurement. The best solution - scale, from the wrong - give up. And remember that a mistake is also a result. This may seem like a Brownian motion, rather than a straight line loved by all strategists. But if you do not lose sight of your ultimate goal, then believe me - such a winding path will take you there faster than a smooth but not growing line.
2. Experiment is impossible without creativity.
It is difficult to generate new hypotheses, formulate new messages, come up with bright packaging without a creative approach. What can I say — even in the organization of business processes are now important non-standard and bold steps.
If we talk about advertising communication, Nielsen, after analyzing more than 500 advertising cases, presented a comprehensive analysis of what affects the effectiveness of advertising — it's creativity (47%), coverage (22%), targeting (9%), relevance (5%), context (2%) and the extent to which your brand can be called a brand (15%).
And my personal statistics from more than 30 projects are confirmed by world statistics, which say that the standard message for interaction with the consumer must be shown 6-8 times, and creative — 2-3.
3. LEAN is based on analytics.
Decisions about what works need to be made based on numbers. All this can be most clearly demonstrated on the basis of Google Analytics. Any experimentation with your site, ad campaign, or even product is worthless if you don't have enough data to analyze and make changes. But there is nothing complicated here. And here are some rules that will help increase the efficiency of your site at least tomorrow:
- Layout the analytics of your site so that you understand every step of your visitor — where he went, how long he scrolled down, where he went, where he fell off.
- Choose either the page with the highest percentage of users or the page closest to your purchase, such as a shopping cart.
- Work consistently with each of them so as not to disturb the purity of the experiment — this will give you an accurate understanding of what hypotheses and changes have led to improvements.
- Remember that there must be enough data to analyze. If your site is visited 10 times a day and half of them are your employees or friends, that's not enough to make a decision. In my experience, the minimum from which you can claim objectivity starts from 100-150 people every day.
- Be objective in your experiments. If you like the red button, but statistics say that blue works better — leave the blue. Well, or buy all the goods yourself, happy to press the red button.
- And to believe more — one of our cases, implemented according to the LEAN methodology, showed an increase in efficiency by 1370% in 15 months of work with constant traffic to the site and the media budget.
4. LEAN is about individuality.
Principle CTRL + C — CTRL + V does not work. And what was effective on one project may not work at all on another or on the same in a year. Therefore, the "blue button" is not a panacea. Having a positive result with it on one of the sites may not be an acceptable solution for another target audience.
To get a little distracted from digital, an individual approach is also important, for example, in team management. One team is efficient in a free schedule, with hourly rates and bonuses for the result, the other needs a clear plan, daily control and job descriptions.
5. LEAN is evolution, not revolution.
But there is one feature. Even contradiction. On the one hand, it is an endless leisurely process. The process of gradual small improvements. Today + 5%, tomorrow another + 3%, etc. As a step in Japan (actually, the birthplace of LEAN philosophy) — the height of 5 centimetres. You go as if with the minimum result from each step, but so in an hour, you rise to the top. And interestingly, without much effort. On the other hand, this approach consists of a large number of quick steps and solutions. Short periods to test the hypothesis — 2 weeks is enough. Quick launch of MVP (minimum viable product) with minimal costs to assess the overall relevance of the project. Works? Gives the first buyers, increases income or work efficiency — so the right direction is chosen. Now you can fine-tune it to perfection.
6. LEAN needs LEAN people.
This is my favourite and perhaps the most important point. All the previous 5 points can be crossed out if your team employs “old school” specialists who are not ready for experiments (bold and sometimes very daring), are not ready to take responsibility for the result (and are empowered) who are not ready to go into numbers and analyze them. And who, nevertheless, know that the main thing is not numbers, but people.
To destroy the LEAN approach, you need to assemble a large hierarchical team, pass all ideas and proposals along the chain, coordinate (preferably in writing and by memo) each decision with the top management. And then repeat the same on the client-side. Then your proposal to change the colour of the button from blue to green may take a couple of months. Sound familiar? Unfortunately, yes — this is the main barrier to transforming our businesses in a new era of quick decisions, experiments, optimization and independence from external and rapidly changing conditions.
Therefore, try, think creatively and at the same time critically, experiment, measure the result, be objective and honest with all project participants and, most importantly, with yourself.
And remember that no matter how important the numbers are for us: attendance, profit, any other results — first of all — we are all people, and we create our product for people. It doesn't matter what area we work in.
And, as my beloved and respected Albert Einstein used to say: "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results". And we are all smart and talented, so everything will work out for us.
Founder & CEO CF.Digital
Co-Founder DDC: Digital Developers Committee
Co-Founder of the creative agency "Nahaba"