How To Be Agile Like A Start-Up


How To Be Agile Like A Start-Up

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The accelerated pace of disruption has taken many industries by storm. Look at all the start-up companies that are going public – even just the “unicorns” with billion dollar plus valuations: they’re growing so fast that they're bringing down the world’s largest companies. It's important to understand that the lifespan of S&P 500 companies has decreased from 67 to 15 years – or the lifespan of a golden retriever. The hard truth is that half of the S&P 500 from twenty years ago doesn’t exist anymore. That’s why every company that doesn’t move quickly is in the cross hairs for disruption.

Most of the companies driving the disruption are typically technology driven. Look at how Netflix put Blockbuster out of business. And how Nest is outpacing Honeywell with fresh and new home products. Or how AirBnB is challenging Starwood with more customer conveniences. But technology doesn’t just create efficiencies – it also connects people. That’s why the disruptors are all students of consumers. Phrases like “game mechanics,” “social dynamics,” and “network effects” have become part of our vocabulary because disruptive companies tend to be hyper-focused on consumers. Traditional companies, in contrast, often make decisions based on the Highest Paid Person’s Opinion – or the HiPPO.

Consider the following products, which probably only saw the light of day because of a HiPPO.

  • Cheetos Lip Balm

  • Watermelon Oreo Cookies

  • Smith & Wesson Bicycles

No doubt the HiPPOs responsible for these products thought that they were being innovative. But the world is not like “Field of Dreams”: if you build it, there’s no guarantee that customers will come. So how do you stay consumer-centric, like a lean start-up does?

Assume nothing and validate everything.

The way most companies of a certain size validate decisions is through traditional market research and/or consumer insight methodologies. This approach, however, can take weeks (or even months) and insights for a single project can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Although an S&P 500 company may understandably want to take time to validate multi-million dollar bets through exhaustive research, no one would or could take that same approach for the hundreds of decisions that lead up to and come out of a major investment decision. So the majority of decision points – the little details that can make or break something – are left up to the HiPPO.

Keep an open dialogue going with your consumers.

Established companies traditionally use various types of market research and the HiPPO to drive their marketing plan and decision making. However, neither of those options facilitate a meaningful dialog with consumers. A survey is by definition a one-way exchange of information, and companies have no way to dynamically follow up on unexpected or unclear responses.

Even if your company is active on social media platforms like Facebook, social media is a one way exchange doesn’t give companies actionable feedback. The marketing department at start-up companies relentlessly create value by constantly connecting with consumers to validate their assumptions in an ongoing dialog. Consumer trends shift so fast that even “upstream” B2B2C companies (like food ingredient/flavor manufacturers) are using real time, agile market research to develop their minimum viable product.

Use technology to empower your company.

You can use technology to reduce complexity so that even market research newbies can still get valuable and practical data. Start-ups do whatever it takes to create value, but established companies tend to stay in their swim lanes and leave market research to pros. In contrast, regardless of their role in the company, a start-up employee will relentlessly take a consumer-centric approach to marketing. Technology can simplify data collection and analysis, making do-it-yourself (DIY) market research a reality.’

How Suzy Can Help

Suzy™ is a consumer insights platform that gives you the power to efficiently validate everything, create meaningful and ongoing conversations with your consumers, and leverage technology to reduce complexity. Any user can quickly conduct market research on potential customers, asking specific questions and following up on responses real-time. In short, we let every employee act like they work at a start-up, making decisions based on real consumer feedback.

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Reach out to us for more details – we’d love to show you the power of Suzy in action!

Meet Suzy

A consumer intelligence platform that helps you gather information on what your potential customers care about, so you can make the right decisions for your business, product, or service.

Suzy™ is a better, faster way to conduct market research at the click of a button – like having a focus group right in your pocket.