3 Important Tales from 3 Different Marketing Campaigns
it turns out MVP strategies can be applied to marketing too
My career at my first proper tech job was marked by two major and distinctive periods — before the merger and after the merger. During that time, I was blessed with the knowledge and first-hand experience of what went down in marketing.
In part and most of the time, marketing would come to us for features to be implemented so they could do certain things. First, as a developer and then as the tech team lead, I quickly became enmeshed in their demands, antics, and campaigns.
Here are 3 morals learned based on the experiences of 3 different kinds of marketing campaigns.
Testing fast and failing fast is better than speculation
My first boss had an uncanny obsession with failing. It stemmed from his remarkable adherence to MVP principles — make everything as small as possible and deliver as quickly as possible. While it’d be nice for campaigns to actually succeed, he was more concerned with the speed, size and actual results generated from the campaigns delivered.
If it failed, we’d analyze. If it succeeded, we might get a cake in the office and some bakery.
In one particular campaign, the entire company was at odds with each other. Everyone had their own ideas or variations of the same ideas on how to sell a particular product.
Marketing wanted it to be one thing, the boss had his ideas, tech knew the possibilities of the platform and tried to present an alternative solution. Operations and customer service tried to team up for a majority vote attempt. We were the epitome of a flat and democratic organizational structure.
Everyone speculated the results — until the boss threw up his hands and decided that the customer should be deciding the trajectory of the campaigns.
The mailing list was segmented by a quarter, and from that quarter everyone got a fair share of a test group. No one was a clear winner when it came to results — which led to a Frankenstein campaign that placed all the best bits together for maximum conversion.
The moral of the story
It doesn’t matter how much data you’ve got, your campaign ideas will remain just that until it gets to your customers. Everything is just speculation and there is no guarantee that your target groups will respond as expected.
The principle behind delivering MVPs is that you validate your ideas before adding your resources and time to it. The same thing can be applied to marketing campaigns.
Speed needs to be balanced with quality
Once upon a time, the boss decided that he wanted to sell merchandise. The issue was that he didn’t want to spend a ton of money buying stock that no one may actually want.
One of the tech guys quickly booted up something for him in a day. Marketing half-heartedly went along with it. The boss got what he wanted — a bare-bones version of an eCommerce store that broke all the foundational rules of normal expected shopping flows. To buy something, you had to email through what you wanted and then do a bank transfer of the money. There wasn’t even a form for you to fill in on the landing page.
For some industries and in certain geographical areas, this could be viewed as normal online shopping practices. But for this particular scenario, it flopped and everyone went to the boss with ‘I told you so’.
The moral of the story
If he had done it properly rather than trying to extreme MVP it, the results may have differed greatly. The merch itself wasn’t bad and could have been marketed to tourists, but it was the delivery of the entire exercise that made the campaign fall over.
The speed of campaigns needs to be balanced with quality. There’s a difference between acid testing something on a small audience group quickly vs. booting up something quickly to test a theory that requires a certain level of trustworthiness.
When campaigns turn monolithic
When the merger happened and the composition of teams changed dramatically — marketing quickly became a confused vehicle for promotional content. The idea of MVP on the campaigns went out the door, along with the idea of a focused metric.
The next thing you know, different parts of business becomes siloed and monolithic marketing endeavors started to roll out without any validation. Everyone got the same slice of the newsletter. Everyone got the same landing page regardless of location and demographics.
To test was to put the campaign out to everyone. When the results came in, they just took it against the returns without further analysis. When something worked, they clung to the success and just kept doing the same things over and over again until it became spam and irrelevant.
The moral of the story
When a business starts to fear failure, it starts to become blinded to the real needs and wants of their customers. The conversation and relationship turn one-sided, resulting in an over or undervaluation of reality.
The issue with monolithic campaigns is that the time and monetary investment is untested. When everything rests on a single success, failure becomes that much more prominent.
The core fundamentals of MVP is to create quickly, ship quickly and analyze the feedback quickly. These three things are very easy to apply to any marketing campaign.
The idea of MVP isn’t just limited to product creation and when used on marketing activities, it can help reduce speculation and figure out what actually works.
No one really knows how customers will respond, what actions they’ll take based on your campaign’s suggestions and if they’ll be willing to part with their time and money for your product.
So test out your theories, keep them small, ship them quick before you go all in and scale. It will help keep everything in perspective.