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Taking the leap: minimum viable marketing

Season 3

Episode 2

Minimum viable marketing is pretty similiar to a minimum viable product. You launch with a basic version, that has enough of the bells and whistles to make sense, so that you have something out there, then use the feedback you get and added time to move further forward.

This allows you have something out there, so people can find you better while you work to improve. The catch is making sure you don’t do minimum viable versions of everything and set yourself up for failure, or get you to a point where you can’t upgrade everything, and end up with a messier brand.

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I think when you first start a business, your first website should be a DIY one. I think you should make it as good as whatever you can make in one week. If that’s a side hustle and you have a few hours, its more of a landing page, but when you launch it, you now have a website! You can add to it later, but priorities. With the options out there today, there’s plenty of DIY softwares with templates to get you started. You can create a site using something like Squarespace with a template, and expand from there. Your first Shopify template will probably be really basic but over time you’ll make little tweaks to make the experience better. What you don’t want is to be burning through costs while you don’t have any website live. Later on, you can hire a professional designer or developer to expand on what you’ve created, or create a new layout from scratch, but first you’ve got some learning to do.

When you first launch your business, you’ll be making changes to how your phrase things, and the ways in which you present your offer quite regularly. You’ll want to have access to make those changes, becoming more familiar with each of the softwares you’re picking up along the way.

This launched page or pages, means people can land somewhere, you have somewhere to send people, and there’s a way for someone to take the steps to purchase. You might like to prompt people to sign up for your email list, either for more information, or to receive a certain incentive in return. You might send them to follow you on social media, or fill out a contact form. The choice is yours. If you’re just launching your business, and need to test out your branding and the actual service, spending 10s of thousands of dollars is likely not the most cost effective. This is why many professional brand designers do many more rebrands than they do first designs.

Once you have your website, and some social media handles collected, you can choose what you dip your toe into next. Let’s go through what a minimum viable marketing option could be across some platforms, and content types.

You might spend more time networking, opting to trial a few ways of introducing yourself, and finding out what people need to know from you. Over time, you add a business card or a pamphlet, or send people to get a freebie on your website in exchange for their email address.

You might choose to start blogging. This is a great way to match specific searches on Google or other search engines. Over time, you’ll get better at writing, and start to get comments or messages from people who enjoy your content. in theory, you could get better in private, but there’s less benefits in the meantime.

Eventually you might create several email list freebies to incentivise people to join your list, but start with one. Ask for feedback and questions and improve it over time. Start with a monthly newsletter first before trying weekly.

When running ads, especially Google search ads, it can help to start with a small budget, over $150 per month, so you refine everything before spending too much, then adding budget slowly so that you can tell when you reach a point where more budget does not equal more people, based on your target audience limits.

Having a podcast or another type of show can be an incredible way to gain familiarity in your brand. However, if you compare yourself to those who have been doing them for a long time, potentially years, you’ll probably never start. If you have to use your headphone mic in your car, go for it. I had an Anchor show about 4 years ago maybe, and thats exactly how I did it.

An example of an escalation of a podcast, is that you might start with an audio only show, get comfortable then after 10, or maybe even 50 episodes, you add video. You might still only take the best video bits out for social, but then the whole production gets better and you can add a YouTube version later. You might get used to doing episodes on your own, learning the ropes of audio, and the podcast platforms before you invite guests on the show. Know that whatever format you try, it can evolve, and it kind of should, because this is how you’ll improve.

The data and insights you get back will start painting a picture of what people like, and allow you to start honing your message beyond your gut feeling. This is how you move towards true product market fit. Or service market fit or whatever the case may be. As you change how you word things, what events you show up to, what guests you have on your podcast, what time you send your emails, you start to hone this message and your marketing.

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Just like launching version 1 of your service, a Beta course or initially working for hire while you hone a process to take people through, starting is what is important. There is an element of launching and marketing that is taking a leap, knowing it is not perfect, but putting it out there knowing you’ll iterate. You don’t want to be selling something that is truly not worth the price, obviously, but chances are, your expectations are higher, so if something is ready, it’s possibly been ready for a while, and you can always raise that price later as the offer improves. In marketing, there are only a few things that would burn a bridge, so avoid those while taking steps forward.

While you don’t want to have a minimum viable version of everything, you also don’t want to hold back on everything til it’s perfect.

A simple way to restrict yourself is that only one thing can be new at any time. Until one thing is on version 3, you can’t launch another platform. The other is to do a 3 week or so rotation. Adapt this depending on your efforts, so you can balance these out.

Sometimes the minimal viable version of something we have to say, means we use a different format:

Some of these deep dive podcasts are an expansion of items that were originally social media length pieces of content.

I have a bunch of ideas I’ll cover in the podcast that will eventually also become a white-paper, or be fully filled out and expanded into a book or a course.

But in marketing where you need to show off your expertise, you can’t keep every nugget for the big big content.

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While something is better than nothing, having a website and way for people to find you is that something, so the extras should be a result of a bit more dedication.

There is also a point that when you start some forms of marketing, the profitability is low while you get the hang of it. That might be hiring, delegating to and managing the right contractors. It might be paid avenues, or best using a professional photographer. But we want things to be profitable in the reasonable short term, so you can handle a little bit of added expense while you lay the groundwork and quickly get things working well. Hang in there on those, and dedicate more tine in the short term, so that profitability ramps up as quickly as possible.

It’s true that releasing a minimum viable version is easier, and what can sometimes happen is that you then commit to lots of different types of marketing, and dig yourself into quite a hole.

You’ve got a basic version of everything, but to get good at any one area, you need to focus.

We don’t want you to commit to too many things because if you spread yourself too thin, you’re more likely to do everything by halves. While something is better than nothing, having a website and way for people to find you is that something, so the extras should be a result of a bit more dedication. Just because you try something does not mean you need to do it forever so discard what doesn’t feel good. it is these decisions that when made correctly, set you on the right path, and allow you to make a new iteration. We balance these two things in making our minimum tier of content marketing, having one or two elements that are really good, while trying new things to keep increasing the number of people you reach, and the ways in which they learn from you and their trust in you grows. It is also true that having only one platform can lead you to be less resilient, since that one place could be effected and change without warning, so move with a little pace, so you’re not vulnerable for too long.

Have a think about what you are holding back on, that you could start with Version 1. Think of the ways you might be tempted to overcommit, taking on too many things at once. Find your equilibrium and keep moving forward.

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