Lean Startup

How Important is a Brand for a Startup?

Joe: Well, in a startup world, where you’re kind of always marketing towards customer development and product market fit and, we stay pretty focused in that. Is there an ‘Aha’ moment for a company or a time when we start shifting gears and start thinking about their brand?

Laurel Mintz: I think that that’s a conversation you should be having in the very beginning. There’s a couple of things that we find as an agency are really non-negotiables and developing a brand is definitely one of those because it’s the first impression that any consumer or client has about your company, and you want to make sure that that evokes the right kind of message. So, we have a lot of our companies go out and do kind of some brand building exercises where they come up with adjectives and descriptors and wave that they want their brand to come across and the feelings and the emotions behind the look and feel of their brand. And, I also think that the word brand is kind of muddled in the marketing conversation, so it’s important that people understand the difference.

Joe: So, it’s difficult to shift a brand, isn’t it, can a startup really know what their brand is?  Do they have to know what it is?

Laurel: I think it’s important to understand the brand or at least what you want the brand to be initially. But, I think the beauty of the startup world is that you can pivot so quickly when you’re a small, nimble company that’s the beauty in it, is that you are out there experiencing the world reflected through your brand and your company and if you see some things working or some things not, you know, a good leader in a startup or even in an emerging company knows how to pivot the message and the brand quickly.

Joe: Does the marketing guy sit on the back side roll his eyes when that’s going on because he’s got all his energy and time developing a brand, and he’s like ‘Okay’?

Laurel: Well, I think, I guess my question to you is ‘what do you think a brand is’. So, is a brand to you the overall entire look and feel or is a brand something bigger in your mind?

Joe: Well, I think that brand incorporates the vision a little bit, doesn’t it? I mean it’s the look and the feel but it’s who I want to be and who I want my customers to be.

Laurel: I think that is exactly right, and I think that a brand, the look and feel of the logo, for example, can remain the same even if the market is shifting. So, I think when it comes to pivoting for a startup, for example, it’s about shifting the messaging and the targeting in terms of where your dollar spend is going for marketing rather than changing the brand itself. Does that make sense?

Related Podcast and Transcription: A Marketing Conversation with Mintz

Laurel Mintz, CEO of Elevate My Brand is a renowned marketing professional with both an MBA and JD. Her company works with global brands such as Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Nestle, and Popchips. She’s an expert on everything marketing, digital strategy, social media, and events.

Marketing with PDCA (More Info): Targeting what your Customer Values at each stage of the cycle will increase your ability to deliver quicker, more accurately and with better value than your competitor. It is a moving target and the principles of Lean and PDCA facilitates the journey to Customer Value.

Where Learning Becomes Doing: Purdue Foundry

Purdue Foundry is a hub to transform innovators into entrepreneurs. It is a place that Purdue faculty, staff and students find fast, effective ways to move their ideas to the marketplace. The Foundry focuses Purdue’s vast resources to accelerate and improve advancement of Purdue ideas and innovations that are changing the world. My podcast guest next week is Juliana Casavan a Training Manager at Purdue Foundry where she creates and facilitates workshops that concentrate on first step of looking at a business and helping them identify their value proposition.

Excerpt from next week’s podcast:

Joe:   We’re all familiar with the software and Apps guys, and with those being developed using the Business Model Canvas and Lean Startup. I think most of us get that, we see how that’s developed. But you discussed some things where the idea is like five years, six years out of trying to prove some of this technology, that to me seems very challenging.

Juliana Casavan: Yes, it is. To me, it’s one of the coolest parts of the jobs because I get to see these technologies that won’t be the market for however long it takes them to get through FDA approval. It’s kind of an 8 to 12 year trajectory for FDA approval most of the time, I kind of get to see these things like super early when they’re just at the lab bench coming up with their proof of concepts kind of phase. It does create a challenge for us because the runway is so long, so as far as how long they stay with us or the client and the customer, is very much extended because we work with them through that entire process.

I find that the core principles Lean Launch and business model canvas, the methodology still applies though. They need to get an understanding of the industry and how does the industry operate in their sciences. If they have a cancer therapeutic, they need to understand how Merck, and Pfizer and Eli Lilly actually make these decisions about who they’re going to acquire or how long are they going to wait to actually do an acquisition, what are they looking to see with the technology before they would be willing to start having those conversations.

We really get to kind of see the early phases of that and the early developments and we start conversations obviously much earlier in that industry than we do with the software and Apps because that’s very quick to the iteration.

Joe:   The main difference, it’s a much longer program, do you take a different type of ramp, a different type of acceleration with something that extends that far out?

Juliana: No, we really don’t. Actually the approach is very much the same. They go through the LaunchBox program, still just the same 6-weeks program, and again it provides some kind of orientation to the world of business and commercializing their technology versus publishing a paper about a finding kind of thing. Then they go the entrepreneur and residents just as they did before, and the entrepreneur and residents just works with them for a longer period of time. It’s pretty much what happens.

We really look for more funding for them. We know that the software and App companies need funding as well but the high sciences where we’re talking about hundreds of millions of dollars of investments before they actually even gain their first revenue kind of situation. It’s just more preparing them for that kind of value depth with funding and making sure that we’re filling it in and providing them the resources that they need.

Marketing with PDCA (More Info): Targeting what your Customer Values at each stage of the cycle will increase your ability to deliver quicker, more accurately and with better value than your competitor. It is a moving target and the principles of Lean and PDCA facilitates the journey to Customer Value.

 

Has Your Branding Changed? 0

Laura Busche ‘s book is based on the Lean StartupTM  principles and is titled; Lean Branding (Lean (O’Reilly)). It is part Laura Buscheof the Lean Startup series of books by O’Reilly. I found her perception of marketing very aligned with mine and at the very start of the podcast asked her to differentiate her way of thinking versus the more traditional ways.

Related Podcast and Transcription: Branding Your Startup

Joe:   It’s very much different than what we’d say a Kotler book on marketing or the more traditional marketing branding books.

Laura:   I’ve read the Kotler books. They are actually…it’s how you start, so principles of marketing, marketing management, all these concepts. The real challenge for me was to bring these concepts to a level where anyone can use them to grow their startups. So it’s more of a tactical book, I’d like to think of it as a handbook. It has more than 100 tactics, it has case studies, examples, templates, checklists, all the kind of thing that you want to have when you’re just getting started and it’s definitely not the kind of book that’s here to introduce complicated theories, it’s rather here to show you how they can be applied. It’s also different from your traditional marketing book because I’m bringing in some insights from design; I’m bringing in some insights from psychology which is my background. I’m a business major and then I did some design management work and now I’m doing research in psychology, so it’s bringing together all of these disciplines and I like to think that that’s exactly what entrepreneurs need to use these tactics.

Joe:   Well I think you bring some interesting concepts there because so much of marketing today is influencing behaviors that’s let’s say in changing behavioral pattern to develop some sustainability, some use in the product anymore.

Laura:   Exactly. Marketing is so influenced by consumer psychology, it’s almost entirely an application of consumer behavior principles but there’s also some interesting things happening from the design end. Designers are starting to use more agile research methods, so rather than just doing all these old focused groups that nobody seems to like or use anymore, it’s becoming this environment where we can explore with ethnography, and we can do interviews, and we can discover consumers that way and it’s just so interesting and that’s one of the largest principles behind the book.

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The Importance of Selling in a Startup 0

The new way of thinking about innovation is not limited to a great product/service idea says Blake Masters, co-author of Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future.

Related Podcast and Transcription: A Path For Future Innovation

An excerpt from the podcast:

Joe: One of the things I really liked about your book is that, and I’m a sales and marketing guy so you’re going to see where this comes from really easily, but is you truly believe that product just does not sell itself or that that’s a dangerous, maybe a dangerous path to take even if you just created the best widget and you think sales and marketing has some value, correct?

Blake: Tremendous, tremendous value and, everyone knows the product is important, and I think in the wake of the .com crash, at the end of ’99, 2000. People in Silicon Valley really retreated to thinking about product, so ’99, smart non-engineers were doing business development and sales and there is a sense in which today smart non-engineers are sort of judged as they go into sales product or working on a product scheme is somehow more of the moment in Silicon Valley today. I think the product is definitely important. I mean it’s very hard to sell something that’s bad, but it is possible, and it’s certainly, a lot easier to sell something that’s good. What engineers try to do in Silicon Valley is, they fall victim to what we call the field of dreams conceit.

If we build it, this will sell itself. If we build it, the customers will come. That’s almost always false and what we suggest in the book is sales and marketing are underrated precisely because they’re so hard to see and the skill set that makes one good at these things is very opaque in contrast to engineering or product. You look at a product, you can see what it does. You can see how it integrates to your life. If you look at a computer program or that code, either works or it doesn’t. Things are very transparent on the surface. Sales is really quite hidden. A lot of the sales people running around in Silicon Valley don’t call themselves salesman anymore. So, we do have an allergy to sort of obvious sales pitches. No one wants to get sold and go to a used car lot and the dealer comes out to talk to you as a sort of an architect of shadiness.

It’s really important to remember sales is happening all the time. You can’t move your product to a wide audience without some sort of sales strategy. And, the best way to fail in business is probably to, focus all your time and energy on creating a great product without spending a corresponding amount of energy, focused on ‘how do we get it out to people’. Because, I think this is a huge correction in the wrong direction of the over-correction. Startups, especially, need to think really long and hard about their sales strategies because you can build a really good business with just sort of a decent product if you figured out how to sell it to people.

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Using the Lean Startup Method for Product Branding 0

Author Laura Busche joined me for a conversation about startup branding. Her book is based on the Lean StartupTM  principles and is titled; Lean Branding (Lean (O’Reilly)). It is part Laura Buscheof the Lean Startup series of books by O’Reilly.

Lean Branding is a practical toolkit that helps you build your own robust, dynamic brands that generate conversion. You’ll find over 100 DIY branding tactics and inspiring case studies, and step-by-step instructions for building and measuring 25 essential brand strategy ingredients, from logo design to demo-day pitches, using The Lean Startup methodology’s Build-Measure-Learn loop.

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One Bit of Advice from Lean Branding Author 0

Tomorrow will be a special edition of the Business901 Podcast. Lean Branding (Lean (O’Reilly)) author Laura Busche joined me for a great conversation about startup branding. Her book is based on the Lean Startup Principles.  

An excerpt from the Podcast:

Joe: If you could give one bit of advice to someone about branding, what would it be? Lean Branding

Laura: A couple of bits of advice that are in the book, a couple of quotes that I’d like to highlight and that reflect this very solid advice that I would like to give to entrepreneurs or intrapreneurs that are trying to build their brands are, on one side we have this bit of advice, “People relate to people and if your brand feels like people, they’ll relate to you too.” The point behind that is that brands need to be humane and they need to react to people’s aspirations and they also need to build personalities that allow them to relate back to these people. So that’s sort of not very intuitive but once you start getting a hold of how other brands have done it which is something that the book does, you understand how important it is to be humane as a brand.

The second bit of advice which is also a quote from the book is that, “Successful brands have a compelling answer whenever consumers ask, what’s in it for me?” So the “What’s in it for me…” question is something that you need to address. It’s simple, if you want to write it down in front of you, if you want to write it on your walls, if you want to print it somewhere, that’s something you should do because this is the essential question behind your relationship with your buyers. It’s, “What’s in it for me…” and it’s something that the book highlights a lot. Whenever you’ve reached resonance which is what we call in branding, when your message is really being listened to by your consumer and understood, whenever that happens, it’s because you’ve provided a very good answer for their what’s in it for me question.

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Masters on Zero to One 0

The book, Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future, presents a new way of thinking about innovation: it starts by learning to ask the questions that lead you to find value in unexpected places. Blake Masters

From the book:

The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine. Copying others takes the world from 1 to n, adding more of something familiar. But when you do something new, you go from 0 to 1. Tomorrow’s champions will not win by competing ruthlessly in today’s marketplace; they will escape competition altogether, because their businesses will be unique.

Blake Masters was a student at Stanford Law School in 2012 when his detailed notes on Peter Thiel’s class “Computer Science 183: Startup.” The notes became an internet sensation. Before writing Zero to One with Peter, Blake co-founded Judicata, a legal research technology startup, and worked at Box and Founders Fund.

Download the MP3

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Mobile Version

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Lean Sales and Marketing: Learn about using CAP-Do

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