By Robert Pease, Performance Practice Lead, Heinz Marketing

We often work with companies who are launching new products or exploring new markets and they turn to us to help them accelerate these go-to-market activities.  Like with anything new, there is much to learn, many assumptions guiding decisions, and no shortage of changes that will need to be made along the way.

This “test and experiment” mindset is crucial to the DNA of a modern marketer because even with established companies in known markets, the best way to reach prospects changes over time.

I like to use an “iterative marketing campaign framework” to help clients move quickly, learn fast, and improve their go-to-market efforts.  “Iterative” because it is a continuous process where each prior campaign informs the next. “Framework” because it lays out a methodology to clarify assumptions, execute activities, and measure results quickly.

Step 1:  Identify target opportunities

This includes scanning the market, developing hypotheses related to behaviors and adoption, and focusing on the need and outcome sought by your customers.

Key questions to answer include:

  1. What problem do we solve?
  2. Who has the problem?
  3. Do they spend money on it?
  4. Do we deliver the desired outcome?

Step 2:  Create a standard approach

Each campaign needs a value proposition and messaging that resonates with the target audience.  You then need to define in what form that message will be delivered (white paper, product trial, webinar, video, blog post, ebook, etc.) and lastly identify the best path to reach that target audience – find out where and how your prospects consume content and put yourself in the middle of it.  It could be a sponsorship, email newsletter, or domain specific event but it is out there and there is most likely more than one.

Key activities to complete include:

  1. Articulate understanding of need
  2. Structure value proposition
  3. Create “anchor” content
  4. Find out where and how the target audience consumes content

Step 3: Execute and Review

Implement your plan and see how it performs.  Did you get ignored?  Maybe your message was off or too self-centered.  Good engagement but no conversions?  Check the alignment of your audience, message, and offer.  Great conversions but no qualified leads?  Right message, wrong audience.  They key is to learn these lessons fast and apply them to the next iteration.

Key activities to complete include:

  1. Structure the campaign including budget and program
  2. Compare results to assumptions
  3. If successful – tune the campaign further and repeat
  4. If unsuccessful – move to the next opportunity

The overriding theme with an iterative campaign framework is to have a bias for action and inform the next action with the previous result.  Don’t spend huge sums of money and invest large amounts of time if you are still learning what works or are operating on assumptions that have not been challenged by direct contact with your target customer.

There are really good parallels to this approach and agile software development.  Frequent releases, quick turnaround time, and constant progress vs. large, time intensive “waterfall” releases that happen infrequently and require mammoth effort.

If you have worked in an agile software development company, your marketing team was probably trying to keep up.  I know I was in my first one.  I learned how to do agile marketing there and am applying those same concepts here regardless of what you sell or how you produce it.