“If You Want to Succeed: Fail Fast”, says social media expert Lee Kenny

Lee Kenny (left) from Snowflake Media
Lee Kenny (left) from Snowflake Media

We talked last week about the power of incremental improvements used by Sir David Brailsford. Thanks to “BSP” on the Courier website who also mentioned this is known as Kaizan, in Japan!

Sometimes when you hear the words “incremental” it conjures thoughts of slow, methodical and maybe even boring “baby steps”, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Technology, particularly in the online, e-commerce and social media space, is fuelled by the ethos of “Fail Fast”. What does this mean for you?

Well it doesn’t mean throw loads of things against a wall and see what sticks, it’s more structured that than. As a business owner you already have too many things to do, so this is about a focussed plan, executed quickly and then decisions taken based upon the measured outcomes of each test.

The Power of Focus

As a child (and don’t try this at home without adult supervision) I remember an experiment that involved directing a beam of sunlight in to a sheet of paper with the aid of a magnifying glass. Now you had to hold the magnifying glass extremely still to concentrate the heat and light. The result? Well the paper caught fire.

Imagine now that same experiment with all the same ingredients…. Sun, Paper and a magnifying glass. Only this time you keep moving the magnifying glass every minute or so. Left, right, up, down. What would happen? You’d just get tired arms! There would be no fire or even close to it.

When marketing your business online, you need that same discipline. If you are constantly changing your mind on what channel to use, what to promote, colour schemes and priorities…You just get tired with little to show for it.

Putting it in to practice

Have a plan. Retailers like Harveys of Halifax have a full Calendar of priorities including when the sales will be, when products are bought and these are executed at very specific times, but are planned many months in advance. The same is true of newspapers and magazine. They have editorial calendars that help focus everyone’s efforts on what needs doing now, and a plan for the future

Keep Score. Make sure you know what the Key performance Indicators (KPI’s) or stats are before you try anything. These are your benchmark numbers that you’ll keep going back to. If its online, everything really boils down to visitor numbers (traffic) and sales (conversions). Yes there are sub-sections of both goals which should be tracked, but all roads lead to these

Diary Monitoring and Follow up. It sounds simple but most businesses drift after making changes, only following up when convenient, which is usually weeks or months later. As a rule of thumb, if it is a change that affects conversions, you should have enough data to make a decision after 500 people have visited the page to know whether it is performing better or worse

Daily Backups Make sure your site is backed up on a daily basis. Your designers and developers will (or should) use something called version control. This allows you to go back easily to a previous version if something doesn’t work

Get Excited. Sometimes people see these changes as a chore. Embrace the fact that you are evolving and involve other staff in the project if you have them.

Don’t be afraid to reverse changes. The joy of online is everything can be changed in a heartbeat. This isn’t like 10,000 leaflets that were printed and you just spotted the typo. If things don’t work, reverse it to the previous version, then try a new test.

Get help if you need it. I’m not talking about the neighbours nephew who just passed an art exam (unless they are your target market!) But have a consultation with an expert in the field. Most will meet with you for free and give you some ideas that you can implement on your own. If these work, then you’ll have more confidence to work with that company or person on paid projects in the future

So, make a plan with 5 or 6 things you can test on your website or marketing that you think will improve conversions or traffic. Implement them one at a time and make a diary note to follow up the results.

The aim here is simple. Do more of the things that work and less of the things that don’t. This way you spend a little amount of time , regularly and see great improvements.

Be sure to comment below on your experiences!

A note for your diary. My company is running a jam packed Social media for business session in Halifax on the 27th November. This will feature real examples and case studies of how we built up a Facebook page with over 2000 people within a 3 mile radius of Halifax on a shoestring budget and very little time. It also covers all the basic strategies that we use with clients on Facebook and Twitter. As a thank you for reading this column, readers can get a 50% discount when you quote HalifaxCourier more details and a full overview of what you’ll learn is here: http://bit.ly/halifaxcourier

Have a great weekend!

Lee Kenny is Managing Director at Halifax-based Snowflake Media