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Eric Ries, Author & Entrepreneur, Offers 10 Fat Tips for Lean Software Startups (Page 2 of 3)

Tip #4: For enterprise targets, change tactics.

If your target market is enterprise companies rather than consumers or individual users, your tactics will likely have to change, but the underlying principle stands, says Ries.

"The specific techniques have to be changed," he says. "Most big companies purchase through a sales process, so  you can't always do it on the internet. You have to go into these companies, but you can fundamentally do the same test. 

"Find the decision maker, know them well, and offer to build something they really want. If you're a startup you're never going to sell them at this early stage anyway. 

"I'd recommend everyone to read "The Four Step to the Epiphany" -- it's a book that describes this whole process in great detail."

Tip #5: An entrepreneur's marketing is inbound, not outbound.

"We used to think about marketing as outbound," says Ries. "In other words, clobber people over the head with the message. But this is an inbound activity. 

"When we would try different key words, that gave us insight as to the people we were trying to reach and what they were looking for.

Hopefully, as you learn about how your business model works, you'll be able to find ways to invest in  marketing profitably. But in some businesses -- think about Facebook -- they never spent any money on advertising. 

"Instead of using a rule of thumb, it's important to understand how customers interact with your product, and then scale in a way that's appropriate for your product."

Tip #6: Get used to the idea of pivots; partial failure is a good thing.

Too many startups wait too long to think about marketing, Ries says, and it's a serious mistake -- but remember, we're talking about inbound, not outbound, as mentioned above.

"There's no distinction between the product and the market," he says. "You need to be able to answer, 'What should I build, and who's my customer?' No, you shouldn't run out and hire traditional marketing people, because we don't know what the message should be yet. You're just going to have to change your message later.

"But the problem here is that we love our ideas; they seem so brilliant. What I've discovered is this: I have never once convinced an entrepreneur through argument that their product doesn't work. Skeptics are usually right, and cynics are usually right -- but you won't change the world from their point of view.

"The only way to proceed is through empirical scientific testing. Once you see that people don't respond the way you thought they would, then you can change. It doesn't mean your vision is wrong -- it just means your specific path is wrong. 

"We call this a pivot: It's a change in strategy without a change in vision. This liberates you from having to be right from the very beginning. Change is relatively inexpensive. Failure of some part of the idea doesn’t mean failure of the  company."

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