Lean Startup

Would you create a Marketing Plan for me?

I wrote this several years ago and ran across it last night. It was a request from someone that wanted me to create a marketing plan for them. My response is below. I did attach a PDF of the Business Model Canvas with it.

Dear Entrepreneur,

Thank you for the interest. You have a fantastic business idea and I can contribute significantly to the success of it. My question before you spend money creating a sales and marketing plan is asking, “Are you ready for a marketing plan?”

Have you confirmed that your idea will work in the marketplace? You may find what is actually needed is totally different from your original thinking. Your first orders are a result of someone asking them, we know you do this but can you do this? The customer reframes the problem you are trying to solve. They articulate the problem in their terms.

Your idea sounds fantastic. However, you or I are not buying the product. The solution you are offering needs to be framed in the customers or users perspective. That is my first step in the process of developing a plan. I believe we can validate your “hypothesis” and build a sales and marketing plan together in less than a month. The plan is the easy part. The hard part is getting through the first 4 questions.

  1. Have you talked to actual customers/users about your idea?
  2. Have you experimented with your business model in any way?
  3. Have you created an outline of your business model?
  4. Has anyone spent any money to validate your idea?

I can see how your idea will work. I could create a marketing plan from your description. I could demonstrate how you could scale your business and franchise or develop a coaching plan, for others to replicate what you are doing around the world. However, the truth is that the first phone call you take may throw your plan right out the window. You may find out that people or organizations will not pay for your services or have other alternatives that are government subsidized or some other possibility. In your description, it was all about the things you will do. In marketing, it needs to framed in the context or the outcomes you produce for your customers. Review the enclosed layout the left side is the internal side of the business and the right side is the external.

Your sales and marketing idea should be an extension of your business plan and business model. That way it is properly funded. Not only in monetary means but also resources and the skills needed to carry out the plan. This all may sound overly complicated, but it can be simplified and done quickly if you have the time to put into it. It is not much different than putting a coffee stand in the middle of a mall before renting space for a coffee shop.
Would enjoy working with you. What are your thoughts? Are you ready for a marketing plan?

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How does Design Thinking compliment Lean UX?

Related Podcast and Transcription: Applying Lean to UX

Joe:   You talk about Design Thinking as complimenting Lean UX? Can you expand on that?

Jeff: I think there’s a misunderstanding of Design Thinking than perhaps — but Design Thinking, it’s not a methodology for making things pretty. In fact, what it is is a way to leverage the tools that designers have used for decades to solve business problems. So they’re new tools — well, they’re old tools that are being re-purposed in a broader context to solve bigger problems. And so Design Thinking really is about understanding the customer; so it’s about getting empathy for the person that you’re building, your service for the context in which they are engaging with the service and the problems that they’re trying to solve. That’s the first pillar of Design Thinking, and there’s nothing in there about making anything necessarily. It’s really just about understanding as a team what the problems are.

The next step is creativity, and again creativity not limited to an individual or a job title, but creativity for the team in collaboratively generating solutions for the problems that you’ve identified by understanding the customer. And then lastly, the last pillar of Design Thinking is then rational, which essentially means honest with yourself and with your colleagues about which one of your many brilliant ideas actually does solve the problem. And then, it’s about refining the experience and making it more user-friendly, making it more aesthetically pleasing, making it more smooth and so forth And so I think that if people ascribe Design Thinking as a visual design activity, then there’s a misunderstanding there and again, I think that happens and I think that that’s why there is still this design is still ‘making it pretty’ aspect. Design Thinking is much broader than that, and it’s a core component of the way that Lean UX works.

About: Jeff Gothelf is a designer, an Agile practitioner with a specific expertise in User Experience culminating in his book Lean UX: Applying Lean Principles to Improve User Experience.

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Applying Lean Principles to Improve User Experience

Jeff Gothelf is a designer, an Agile practitioner with a specific expertise in User Experience culminating in his book Lean UX: Applying Lean Jeff GothelthPrinciples to Improve User Experience. His daytime job is currently as Managing Director in Neo’s New York City office. Previously, Jeff has led teams at TheLadders, Publicis Modem, WebTrends, Fidelity, & AOL.

Inspired by Lean and Agile development theories, Lean UX lets you focus on the actual experience being designed, rather than deliverables. This book shows you how to collaborate closely with other members of the product team, and gather feedback early and often. You’ll learn how to drive the design in short, iterative cycles to assess what works best for the business and the user. Lean UX shows you how to make this change—for the better.

  • Frame a vision of the problem you’re solving and focus your team on the right outcomes
  • Bring the designers’ toolkit to the rest of your product team
  • Share your insights with your team much earlier in the process
  • Create Minimum Viable Products to determine which ideas are valid
  • Incorporate the voice of the customer throughout the project cycle
  • Make your team more productive: combine Lean UX with Agile’s Scrum framework
  • Understand the organizational shifts necessary to integrate Lean UX

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The Most Important Discipline that an Entrepreneur Needs?

Joe: You described a variety of disciplines, characteristics that you must have. If you had to single one of them out, is there one that’s more important or are all of them equally important?

Related Podcast and Transcription: Are You a Qualified Entrepreneur?

Randy Nelson: I’ll say financial, and I’ll say it for a couple of reasons. A lot of entrepreneurs love to say “Not my area. I outsource that. I give that to somebody else.” But, it’s one of the main reasons why companies fail and I’ll give you one example. Cash, we all know we need cash, but sixty percent of businesses up to ninety percent of businesses fail because they don’t have cash. And, it’s not because we’re unsuccessful. A lot of businesses just grow themselves out of business. So, what I ask on the Qual Card as an example is “I don’t want you just to know whether you have the cash today. I want you to know whether you have cash six months from now and I want you to understand the trend of cash because if you’re making growth decisions inside your business you should understand whether six months from today those growth decisions are going to keep you in business or put you out.

Joe:  I think that’s a good suggestion. You’ll see an entrepreneurs start out, they have a great idea, they’ll get some VC funding maybe or some backers or something but they really don’t ever find a way to generate  cash with their idea.

Randy: Yeah. I’ll give you a specific example. January 1, 2004, my business heads had $500,000 in the bank. We were growing. We looked good as a company. My six-month forecast had us at -650,000. Now, we had a line of 700,000 but the problem was we were; I could pretty well forecast we’re done.  And, not only that but the covenants that the bank had put on me, those I recommend being forecasted because these are, again, I’m not trying to instill, I’m not trying to make anybody a military discipline type of entrepreneur . What I’m trying to do is I’m trying to get them to stay in business and to maximize their potential.

Randy Nelson, author of The Second Decision, is a speaker, a coach, a Qualified Entrepreneur, and a former nuclear submarine officer in the U.S. Navy. Randy now runs Gold Dolphins LLC, a coaching and mentoring firm to help entrepreneurial leaders and CEOs become Qualified Entrepreneurs and achieve their maximum potential.

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How has Lean Startup changed Agile Thinking?

How has Lean Startup principles change your thinking about the basic Agile principles or are they one and the same? -jd

Lean UX

Jeff Gothelf: Usually we’re treading into a conversation where I haven’t seen enough public discourse on it yet. The conversation is why are people hiring Agile today, versus why people hired Agile 10 years ago. Why are people implementing Agile, and I’m starting to see some conversation about it. And I think when we wrote the book, our thinking wasn’t as nuanced as it is now about that debate. We were essentially taking present day reasons for Agile implementation as the basis for our work and what I believe present day reasons are for Agile implementation is faster shipping of features. While I think that was not the intent of the authors of the manifesto and while it’s not the intent of companies and teams that adopted Agile 10 and 15 years ago, I believe that companies that are adopting Agile today, that are doing this wholesale transformation are doing so for the faster delivery of features, and what’s missing from that is a decision framework. A decision-making framework of deciding what we should actually work on, until what extent should we work on it, and how much design should go into it, and what is really the definition of done.

It’s moving away from the definition done being we shipped it to the definition of done being we shipped it, people like it, people use it, it’s changed their behavior which means they’re more loyal to us, they’re more successful using our product, which means that we’re more successful as a business and the outcomes change, and that’s really the definition of done.

When we wrote the book — here’s an opportunity to put a decision-making framework on modern implementations of Agile which based on our experience were largely based on incentivizing teams to efficiently deliver high-quality code.

Jeff is Next Week’s Business901 Podcast Guest

Jeff Gothelf is a designer, an Agile practitioner with a specific expertise in User Experience culminating in his book Lean UX. His daytime job is currently as Managing Director in Neo’s New York City office. Previously, Jeff has led teams at TheLadders, Publicis Modem, WebTrends, Fidelity, & AOL.

Lean Sales and Marketing: Learn about using CAP-Do

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Are You Qualified to Drive the Boat?

Randy Nelson, author of The Second Decision, is a speaker, a coach, a Qualified Entrepreneur, and a former nuclear submarine officer in the U.S. Navy. He co-founded and later sold two market-leading, Randy Nelsonmultimillion dollar companies–Orion International and NSTAR Global Services. Randy now runs Gold Dolphins LLC, a coaching and mentoring firm to help entrepreneurial leaders and CEOs become Qualified Entrepreneurs and achieve their maximum potential.

Download MP3

Business901 iTunes Store

Mobile Version

Android APP

Lean Sales and Marketing: Learn about using CAP-Do

Lean Engagement Team (More Info)