Lean Marketing shortens Marketing Cycle and increases Life Cycle


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Why Lean Marketing? Because it is the Future of Marketing

The Value Stream Map is a lean tool to analyze the value stream. Value Stream Mapping techniques involves mapping each step of a process looking for waste and on improving the total time from the beginning to the end of the entire stream. One of the powers of the mapping process is that it enables the team to see the entire picture. This coincides with the fundamental Lean thinking of optimizing the entire process versus the individual stages.

Waste in marketing is not as readily identified as in other areas. One example of marketing waste is time. When I present this, there is typically agreement that the longer a customer/prospect stays in one of the process stages of the Value Stream or in the Queue waiting to go from one stage to the next the great chance of losing the customer. However there is also a strong argument presented that the customer controls this time and just trying to hurry them through the cycle may be just as detrimental as the wait time.

Remembering that we want to first look at how to optimize the entire process instead of a particular stage, our first step would be to evaluate the total time spent, not resources allocated or used. Moving through the value stream quicker is many times just a matter of evaluating the internal delays that occur in the process. By removing them, we enable the customer to make faster and better decisions. We also create more credibility for ourselves as the ‘go to guy” and the organization that has done this before. The question is how do we get there? You first must look internally at eliminating delays.

Lack of resources:

Analyze your team’s resources:

  • Are you always looking for engineering help?
  • Do you need IT to set up a trial?
  • Is a sales call needed?
  • Are you always waiting on a proposal?

I like to start by suggesting we have unlimited resources then ask what the structure would look like. Many times with a simple reallocation of priorities such as Software Trial being the first priority of IT there is a tremendous improvement. Other times, there is simply a lack of personal. This reminds me of a warehouse being more important than a machine. You can increase flow with the machine though you may decrease efficiencies within the department. In the marketing cycle, can you afford having leads sitting going stale? Shifting of duties and resources can very often create extra bodies.

One trick is to reduce the size of a process step. This sometimes enables more activities for an underutilized resource. However, seldom do I see the combination of stages as a method of decreasing cycle time.

Improve your response time by getting closer to the customer-literally!

Look at the process that may be hindering your team. Location has always been one of the main reasons that you locate sales people in territories. You customer/prospect is in a different business. His desires and needs will require more adaptability on your part. Why not locate your entire sales teams in strategic locations. It sets a priority with the team on what is important and improves communication between them and your customer/prospect. Customer support located geographically will reduce travel and being in the same time zone may result in an increase in response time. Most of all what message does it send to your customer? This detached team can usually function well within a company structure as this structure is well known and has more flexibility for your team.

Build quality in to your process:

Respect your people. The sales/marketing team knows how to improve their process more than anyone else. They can tell you if the paperwork, request for proposals, and specifications are flowing. They know the degree of misunderstandings that are occurring internally and with customers. Allowing local control will invariable decrease cycle time for the team but it may increase for an organization as a whole. It is important when local optimization occurs (within specific Value streams) that this process is well documented and the knowledge created passed on to other teams.

Most sales teams initially spend much of their time discovering how to create more material for the last response. The lack of a well-defined value stream lets errors creep in. Poor value stream quality and customer requests that are hard to understand contribute to wasted time. Properly defining your value streams or in simpler terms understanding your customer needs better can facilitate much of the running around like a “chicken with their head cutoff syndrome” or confusion that may occur.

Focusing on delays is an important part of Lean Marketing. It is one of the first things to be considered in the Value Stream and should be a primary focus. It is extremely important to sustain this effort by getting closer and closer to the customer buying process. The more you engrain yourself in that structure will significantly improve your probabilities of success. It will decrease your marketing cycle and in the long run increase your customer’s life cycle. Not a bad alternative.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joseph Dager
Business901 is a firm specializing in bringing the continuous improvement process to the sales and marketing arena. He has authored the books the Lean Marketing House, Marketing with A3 and Marketing with PDCA. The Business901 Blog and Podcast includes many leading edge thinkers and has been featured numerous times for its contributions to the Bloomberg's Business Week Exchange.


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