Test Small Fail Fast Using Market Research
One of the more terrifying things you can ever hear from a senior manufacturing executive is “But that is how we have always done it.” Here is another statement that chills the blood, “It will never work, I just know it won’t.” These two statements cost manufacturing companies untold opportunities and revenue every day. Sadly I hear both of these statements with alarming regularity when performing my industrial marketing consulting engagements. Even worse, a basic commitment to market research by these executives would quickly eliminate either of these statements.
Long ago, and I do not remember where, I read that success loves speed. Now like most platitudes I have read or heard, I looked upon this one with my customary level of intense suspicion. Over the years, however, I have found that for the most part that success does love speed.
So how does speed relate to industrial marketing success?
The answer is that nimble companies have a much greater chance of coming out on top. The key element of speed is being able to test small and fail fast. Here are some of the key considerations.
Who has time to get multiple levels of agreement?
One of my favourite expressions is that getting agreement is as easy as herding cats. If you can arrange your industrial marketing tests to be dreamed up and implemented by a small group so much the better. Small is beautiful.
Who has time to get multiple levels of approval?
Large industrial marketing initiatives often mean gaining multiple levels of approval from a wide variety of stakeholders. The amount of wasted time in getting approval from a large group for these large industrial marketing initiatives can truly be astonishing. The smaller the group, the faster the approval.
Is there validity in multiple levels of approval?
One of the more bizarre beliefs held by senior executives is that of safety in numbers. In other words, you will mitigate the risk of making a bad decision if you have a group discussion and gain consensus. Point number one is this, groupthink, anyone? Consensus and avoidance of conflict smooth out the rough spots in group decision making but often result in a substandard solution.
Point number two is this, with all of the specialized knowledge held by executives within your company how can all of them really know just what to approve? What does your senior operations executive know about marketing, and vice versa? The fact is that in today’s fast-changing marketplace most specialists can barely keep up with the changes in their own areas of specialization let alone two areas of specialization.
Are there risks in testing small and failing fast? Of course there are. The biggest risks are that you test too small or too fast.
First, your market research needs to be based on a decent sample size that will provide you with statistically significant results so you can make an intelligent decision. If you try to base your decision on too little data it could well be a disaster.
Second, you also need to run your test long enough to get conclusive results.
In order to successfully test small and fail fast you need to be certain you have a good handle on market research, statistics, and probabilities.
Oftentimes manufacturers view innovation as being restricted to new product creation or new implementation methods. Be certain to extend innovation to your marketing and selling processes, be willing to test small and fail fast, and watch your profits soar.