Customer Growth Strategy

Ruthless Experimentation: What Are You Afraid Of?

Part of any remarkable customer growth strategy is what I like to call “ruthless experimentation.”

Old timey, product centric growth strategy was all about the big reveal.  We spend months and months coming up with our bold new marketing plans and then–at this point, please pause dramatically–Ta-Da!–we see if (hope that?) the customer likes it.   If we are wrong, it’s back to the drawing board for Plan B.

Not only is this cycle unacceptably long, it does not reflect the dynamic realities of what it takes to build and sustain a relationship with your best and most promising customers.   Just about any business has the ability to test and learn on a number of fronts: permission-based email, direct mail, Facebook, Twitter, an in-store promotion and more.  So why do I have conversations virtually every day with executives who are still studying their social media strategy, struggling to develop an actionable customer segmentation or waiting to improve their CRM platform before they try more personalized marketing?

It’s simple: they are afraid.  Afraid to admit they don’t really “get” how something works.  Afraid that they may not hit their hoped for response rates.  Afraid a promotion might perform “too well.”  Afraid to pull the trigger on the “good enough” idea rather than the perfect one.

So what’s the riskier move?  Studying and planning until you have lowered your chance of “failure” to close to zero %?  Or sitting on the sidelines while your competition is out there trying stuff, learning, truly listening to customer feedback and evolving to make their value proposition more relevant and remarkable?

Being customer-centric is a dynamic, learning process.  Accept it, walk through your fear.  Experiment ruthlessly.  Be a linchpin.  And make something happen today.*

* see Seth’s Blog for more on this: http://bit.ly/cilzJL

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One thought on “Ruthless Experimentation: What Are You Afraid Of?

  1. Steven,

    While I would like to say the economy has caused even the best executives to be less risky, in most cases it’s caused by company culture and even their own past experience. If the culture seems to penalize those who take risks, then folks won’t take risks and launch that breakthrough idea. Alternatively, if the culture rewards informed risk-taking and encourages folks to run smaller tests in the market to validate, you are not only more likely to keep employees challenged but you have a better chance an unlocking something truly market changing.

    As someone who is self-employed, I’m always educating and stimulating conversations to help my customers make an informed decision to validate whether social media offers an alternative means to have discussions directly with consumers.

    @mikedmerrill

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