Steve Milne of Fifth Ring: The Lean Startup

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As part of the MSc in Digital Marketing, we are very fortunate to have worked with top professionals and experts within their field. Last semester we had the pleasure of working with Steve Milne from Fifth Ring. This proved to be a fun and rewarding learning experience for all involved.

Prior to Steve’s visit, we were given briefs about three different clients all with different needs and requirements. The clients included Transition Extreme, Go Hawk and The Wishing Tree. Along with familiarising ourselves with these clients we had to read up on The Lean startup. Coined by entrepreneur Eric Ries, the Lean Startup is effectively the idea of building companies and launching products faster. Rather than spending a prolonged period of time working on a product and facing the possibility that the target audience does not like it, the Lean startup advocates developing a prototype quickly and making the necessary changes from that point. Our basic goal was in a lean startup fashion develop a prototype within two working days. This sprint task was overseen and monitored by Steve.

With all this in mind, Steve greeted us before the clients came into class to outline their business goals and objectives to us. When assessing and meeting a client for the first time, Steve passed on some valuable knowledge to us. The four main areas to take into account when it comes to this inaugural meeting are the clients core business, the market, the current marketing/route to market and their ideas. Other suggested questions for clients included ‘Who are your competitors? What companies do you admire? Which campaigns do you admire? All of these questions are aimed to get a greater understanding of the client needs and wants and to ultimately help them in the best way possible.

After the clients gave their different presentations about their businesses and we established the four main areas of each business through some frantic note taking, we were broken into groups. The next main takeaway that Steve instilled in us was, to determine what the main message we want to leave the customer with. After some peer feedback and tweaks, we established a go-to phrase that conveyed the client’s main message. This mission-statement type phrase was to act as the benchmark for future decisions. For example if there was to be a disagreement over a decision, we would have to go back to the phrase and see does the decision support or take away from the client’s main message.

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With the main aim of developing a prototype by the end of the second day, time was limited. Steve suggested getting some outside feedback. Taking this on board, many of us went around the RGU campus and asked passers by, various questions about the client and its business. In the case of Transition Extreme, we showcased a poster and a leaflet to get outside opinion. Using this feedback, it helped to shape and form our ideas. Using the passers-by data and with further tweaks and ideas (and going back forth between the mission statement phrase), we all had developed a prototype by the end of the second day.

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Overall it was an excellent workshop with many applicable learning experiences as a result. With the help and wisdom from Steve, we were able go from little knowledge about the client to a presentation with prototype in less than two days. The sprint exercise took creativity and fast thinking and is an excellent exercise to do for any aspiring Digital Marketers.

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