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How an Afternoon and a Whiteboard Saved Tom Tens of Thousands of Dollars

Ross Beyeler

Tom works at a company that has been successfully selling traditional media advertising for the past twenty or so years. Like everyone else, they've seen the huge shift in advertising spend over the last five years to digital channels. Although well established, the company has a number of hungry young managers, Tom among them, that are striving to keep the company relevant.

Tom has been granted a small budget to pursue the digital opportunities he felt were worthwhile for the company. One such opportunity was to extend one of their existing products into a region-specific ecommerce offering.

Tom was excited to share the concept with me during our first call together. He explained the solid relationships their company already held within a few specific regions and his desire to hit the market strong with a new brand and completely custom ecommerce website.

Naturally, I was delighted to discuss his goals for the project and some of our past successes in launching new ecommerce brands. Based on what he wanted from the project and given the budget his company granted, he was ready to spend tens-of-thousands on this new launch. Although this was initially an exciting proposition for us, I knew something wasn't right.

This venture would mark Tom's company's first real foray into ecommerce. Although they had existing relationships that could help them promote their launch, from their customers' perspective, they were a completely new brand on the market. They had a daunting task ahead of them for an unproven concept and I couldn't let Tom invest so much when I knew there was a less expensive alternative.

I asked Tom, if he had to prove one assumption, what would it be? His answer: prove that customers would be willing to buy his product. Clearly, Tom got it: this first go at the concept was not about building a brand, but proving viability. This launch really needed to be a test.

Then I told him how we test concepts using affordable tools and a half-day of planning. With an afternoon at the whiteboard reviewing his concept and a fraction of his original budget, we're able to help Tom devise a process that will allow him to test his concept and collect detailed data around his customers. This data can then be used to prove the viability of his idea at a small scale and help him eventually launch this new brand with confidence and success.
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