As a lean startup, your approach to product development should be to focus on continuous improvement.
You know that the value you offer to your customers - and the value they offer you back when they buy from you - is the defining factor in your growth and success.
The lean startup methodology is relatively more sustainable as it begins with a definite pathway of creating products and services driven by feedback. Where the conventional business model seemed made to perfection – the lean methodology builds perfection.
As a lean startup, you can make the right products, for the right people, at the right time. And this is just great for innovation and your bottom line.
Your success lies in the open secret – there is no one final product. Further refinements, improvements, and innovation pave the way for sustainable growth.
If you are a lean startup company, this article will share tips to grow faster. If you are interested in the methodology, this article could give you insights to harness the methodology.
1. Listen and listen well
Listening is fundamental to a lean startup. Listening is what gets you to notice your customers’ needs.
It includes listening to devotees and skeptics – your fans will fuel your endeavors and reassure you of all your goodness; skeptics will provide you food for thought on angles perhaps obscured.
Listening will provide you with the “secret to unlock success” and make sense of the noise and valuable feedback that will impact your design iterations, remodeling, and execution.
Educate yourself on laws, regulations, business etiquettes and many other considerations in your industry.
2. Your first customers
You must be a die-hard fan of your first customers. After all, they are the ones who were the early adopters, the ones who chose to trust you for the product you introduced to them. And keep selling to them again and again.
Too often startups spend and are more than willing to spend to attract new customers. They forget about their existing customers and do not give importance to re-attracting, reselling and retaining them.
As a lean startup company, your fastest way to feedback for improving your product is the customer who bought it from you at the very start. They tried out your product and knew what was required to make it better for them and many others. Also, your existing happy customers are most likely to spread the word amongst their acquaintances. And referrals is the most authentic and impactful method to increase sales than many other paid programs you are likely to invest in as a startup.
Thus, get feedback from your existing customers and introduce your improved products to them to try out and give you more feedback.
Turn them into loyal customers who will set a precedent of customer value and care for your startup.
3. Organic outreach
Get to know your customers and let them know you: this is a timeless and evergreen advice for you to grow your lean startup faster.
Understand what an SEO audit is and invest in one for your website and social media platforms. An SEO audit will help you create and understand your startup’s penetration in the market. Leverage organic outreach and give something of great value to your customers.
A simple combination of great content creation, customer feedback and input will create a measurable impact on your organic outreach
We are avid fans of content marketing and know that content is here to stay. But only “great” content.
A great content marketing strategy and strategist will make you think of creating resources that are useful to your consumers. Great content will introduce your business properly, talk about its uniqueness, products, and how people think it is doing.
Your social media and website should have sufficient content, updated timely and posted regularly to keep things fresh and relevant. Therefore, ensure that you create interesting content making use of the many simple tools available in the market.
A strong online presence with an effective SEO strategy and great content will not only help your startup to attract new customers but will also retain existing ones.
Ask your customers to chip in
A great strategy to grow fast is to involve your customers to build a prototype with you.
The lean methodology begins with a true hypothesis – a fairly accurate guesstimate to solve a problem with a product. Introduce the model to your customers and ask them to give you feedback on the usability of the product.
Since lean startup companies are closely attached to their customers, you will relatively have more convenient time developing content and resources for your customers and prospective audience. Your business model facilitates a fluid and comfortable relationship with your market. And this close relationship can spark a valuable and insightful market research.
Ask your customers for feedback on what they think you are doing regarding selling your products, providing support, quality management, and areas for improvement. Listen carefully and make sure you create a list of their feedback and ideas.
Customer onboarding and satisfaction
As a startup, know your customers personally. Create opportunities to meet them. Many small business brands send handwritten notes with their products to customers to make them feel welcome and part of the family. Send birthday cards, season greetings, etc. to engage your customers.
Share stories of growth, challenges, and outcomes
Your content marketing strategy must include the changes you make, big or small, for example, a new and improved design or a slight color variation; updating a new phone number to manage queries to the addition of new members in your sales team, etc.
Tell your customers when you make changes to your products based on their feedback, as it will create a circle of trust and reliability which will ultimately affect your bottom line.
Sharing information this way will establish a culture code in your startup and communicate your value proposition via meaningful actions to both your customers and prospective customers.
There will be mistakes made on the way. Own them and seek to clarify and apologize appropriately.
4. Paid outreach
At times paid marketing and outreach can work brilliantly for a startup. However, you will need to think through before executing this strategy.
The sure sign of a well-paid outreach is profit. You should be making more money with paid outreach per customer than you would in acquiring one. Even if the ratio is 2:1, paid outreach is working.
By the end of the day, your goal is to make customers happy. When your customers are happy with your product, they will refer you to their friends and family, and you will continue to succeed in your endeavors.
And this leads us to our suggestion of looking into influencer marketing. Influencer marketing will involve your happy customers to become your brand ambassadors and talk about your product in their social circles to co-build your brand.
It is a win-win-win for you, your existing customers and your potential customers who will have been influenced by their friends or influencers. This way, your startup’s value proposition travels smoothly into the market.
5. Build a great team
Keep good people around you. People who know what they are doing. People who thrive on feedback and know how to use that feedback for growth and improvement; this is key to the iterative model of improving your product and keeping it relevant to your customers’ needs.
6. Bonus tip: Learn from examples
These are some examples of well-known companies who did not want to waste their time, their customers’ time, or that of their investors. They got down to developing the product that would fulfill the needs of their customers.
The story of Dropbox
When Dropbox came across the lean methodology, the company began thinking about their product which at the time of its inception was competing with many other similar products.
They learned how to test new products with their customers and incorporated their feedback.
From 100,000 registered users, Dropbox went over 4,000,000 in only 15 months with the lean startup principles.
The story of General Electric
The giant GE also went into the lean methodology to develop faster solutions with FastWorks - a complete mindset changing program to how things usually worked at GE.
A very popular example was the development of a gas turbine two years faster with 40% less cost.
The lean methodology is not only for startups after all!
The story of Zappos
After approaching local shoe stores and grabbing photos of their shoes with consent, the owner of Zappos tested his hypothesis of whether an online shoe-selling site would work. And it did! Zappos is the largest online shoe store with over 1000 brands featured.
The ideas above are fairly consistent with the ideas you hear every day. You learned these at business schools, through books and blogs, friends and colleagues.
Simple as they may sound, it is always the simpler ideas that are key to great outcomes.
Have you tried any other method to grow your lean startup faster? What was it and how did it work for you? Let us know in the comments below.