Draft introduction to Lean Media In 30 Minutes

By | November 7, 2015

The following is a draft chapter from Lean Media 1.0. I need your input! Please let me know what works and what doesn’t work in the comments section. Also, if you know someone who would like this, please share it with them!

What do The Huffington Post, The Simpsons, Minecraft, and Led Zeppelin’s first album have in common?

All of them started as low-cost media experiments. The creators had varying degrees of experience, but were generally quite talented and creative. The Huffington Post started out as a small blog-based site and news aggregator, leveraging the celebrity network of co-founder Ariana Huffington for content. The Simpsons began as a short animated clip shown during the commercial breaks of another comedy show on the upstart Fox Network. Minecraft was created in 2009 by a Swedish game programmer, Markus “Notch” Persson, as a part-time project. Led Zeppelin I was recorded over a three-week period in 1968 after a short Scandinavian tour.

When the creators and producers launched these experiments, there was no guarantee of success. But when they initially released their songs and clips and articles to the public, they paid close attention to what audiences liked — and didn’t like. This feedback could be incorporated into subsequent releases, and could even help drive marketing and business decisions.

These are all examples of what I call lean media. The people behind these works may not have known it at the time, but the way they went about creating products using relatively low-cost, iterative development cycles based on audience feedback is one of the most effective ways to build media products that people like.

What is lean media? It’s an approach to creating media content that emphasizes low-cost production, careful observation/measurement of audience feedback, and fast iteration. Properly incubated and carefully scaled, lean media products can attract loyal audiences and grow into successful products and brands. We will take a look at many such examples in this book, and impart best practices which you can use to develop new content, brands, and experiences for your audiences.

It should be noted that while the people and teams cited above went on to enjoy great success, but lean media methods don’t have to be for superstars or  blockbuster releases. Some creators are thinking of niche audiences, or products that have a short shelf-life. Further, such development projects can take place in a variety of environments, from fringe artists and producers working out of their basements, to experienced media professionals employed by established companies. All kinds of people and organizations can leverage lean media techniques to create exciting new products which resonate with audiences and boost bottom lines.

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2 thoughts on “Draft introduction to Lean Media In 30 Minutes

  1. Martha Connors

    Hi Ian. You are doing Lean Media! I think this is great. The only comment I have is having more than a passing mention of how Lean Media attracts such loyal customers because they love being part of something new and therefore feel like they are an actual part of the success. Such loyal followers can really make the brand, especially in the world of social media.

    1. Ian Lamont Post author

      Thanks Martha. Yes, it should absolutely be emphasized that early audiences who bond with a media product can really help boost it. In many cases they serve as evangelists, passing word of mouth accolades and sharing it with their own networks. I think in the examples mention in my post, Minecraft enjoyed a certain amount of viral popularity but the same can also be said for “analog” media including Led Zep and The Simpsons. I’ll make sure this aspect of building audiences gets mentioned in the next revision!


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