B2B Organic Growth Series: Chapter #48

Beware of B2C innovation shortcuts

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There will continue to be cool new innovation methods, e.g. Lean Startup. Before you deploy them “as-is,” though, evaluate them using a B2B-vs.-B2C filter to avoid costly mistakes.
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Transcript of Chapter 48

When it comes to innovation, thought leaders will continue bringing you new ideas to consider, many of which will be worth a serious look. But one caution: Use a B2B vs. B2C filter when evaluating new approaches.

As an example, take Lean Startup. There’s much to like about it: You avoid elaborate business plans… which limit openness to learning. You create a Business Model Canvas… to learn which assumptions to test. You employ agile… with “pivot or persevere” points. And you generate Minimum Viable Products… for rapid customer feedback.

But for B2B innovation, should we use Lean Startup “as-is”? Straight out of the box? Probably not.

Lean Startup uses the Build… Measure… Learn cycle… which makes sense if your B2C customers don’t know what they want until they see it. But if your B2B customers have high knowledge, interest, objectivity, and foresight… why would you ever start building something, without first having an intelligent conversation to understand their needs?

So keep this cycle… but start with a Learn step. When B2B companies follow Lean Startup without a B2B vs. B2C filter, they can miss 3 additional points.

First, customers will be more engaged if you first ask their opinion… rather than just show up with your idea.

Second, developing a software prototype could be cheap, but building a B2B physical prototype could be quite expensive.

Finally, B2C companies have a very deep pool of testers, but you have fewer companies to test your prototype. You can’t afford to frustrate them by lobbing careless prototypes at them.

My point isn’t to avoid Lean Startup or anything else that comes along. Just evaluate it carefully… so you don’t discard your B2B advantages.

Check out this white paper for more on modifying Lean Startup for B2B.