Using Validation to Break the Mold

Five ways marketers can use validation to gain customer insights, improve messaging and boost brand credibility.

Is there anyone out there who hasn’t eaten something they just can’t stand as an act of love (or at least in the name of being polite)?

My brother in law famously ate an iconic lime-pineapple Jell-O mold salad at family gatherings for years before sharing that he really didn’t care for it only to discover that my mother in law made it because she believed it was a favorite of his!

My kids live on the other end of the spectrum. Yelp reviewers of hot chocolate and avid followers of Master Chef Junior, they rank their meals with a zeal that rivals that of Gordon Ramsey.

In our hyper-connected, social world, there are so many opportunities for validation and gathering customer feedback, there’s really no excuse not to take the time to build it into your marketing process — not as a means of seeking approval, but as a way to gain a deeper understanding of customer needs, to deliver a better outcome for your audience and improve the credibility of your brand.

Many of us can agree that taking the time to validate assumptions — about the market, customer opinion, product launch plans, campaign strategy, product features — is essential. Validation is an incredibly valuable method of gathering input, generating ideas, improving execution, guiding projects to successful outcomes, and helping to improve customer experience.

So, if validation is so important, why is it so difficult to put into practice?

Well, it takes time. Validation can expose truths about your product or process that are time-consuming and difficult to address, and it can be uncomfortable. But wouldn’t you prefer to identify issues and fix them quickly rather than deal with the costs of flawed assumptions?

Product launches present an ideal opportunity for marketing teams to use validation as a way to gain understanding, deliver a better outcome for their customers, and demonstrate an ability to listen to what customers have to say. Here are five suggestions for ways you can use validation:

  1. Discover: Start with the best data you can get your hands on. Then, get out there and talk with your prospective customers and the partners that are going to help you take your product to market. Validate the personas that you’ve built. Listen to the words your prospects use when they talk about the problem your offering solves. Use them.
  2. Define: Build a plan. Socialize it with your internal stakeholders (they’re your customers too) — with the goal of gathering the input you need to drive the best outcome. What comments do people make and why? Take the best input you get and use it. Communicate your final plan with the goal of increasing understanding and setting expectations.
  3. Develop: If you’ve done a good job validating during your Discovery and Definition work, Development should be smooth sailing. Build your GTM plan, messaging, content, assets, partner programs, and campaigns on the validated insights you’ve gathered about your audience.
  4. Launch: While a product launch is a major milestone — it is just that, a single point in time. Your product launch marks a new opportunity to start again with your process, because the next step is…
  5. Optimize: Which provides the opportunity to validate your messaging with your customers all over again — with an eye towards accelerating new customer acquisition and improving retention.

There are endless opportunities to get input from your customers. Customer advisory boards, win/loss interviews, online reviews, NPS surveys and follow me home exercises are all ways that you can deepen your understanding of your audience.

While asking for input can be uncomfortable, the improvement you’ll see in messaging and campaign accuracy, communication and credibility with your customers is incredibly empowering and well worth the effort.

Follow me on Twitter @anneloneill.

Ignyte Marketing Group

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Ignyte Marketing Group is a strategy consulting and marketing execution services firm for technology companies.