The days of excess fat are over. No, we aren’t talking about your health, although that matters too. We’re talking about your business and how keeping it “lean” makes it possible for you to market it like a well-oiled machine. Why? Because it:
- Is more effective
- Costs less
- Brings more sales leads
- Increases your profitability
- Generally gives better results
Any equipment that’s rusty, cranky or weighed down by excess baggage just isn’t able to perform the way it should, and that’s equally true when it comes to running your company. So get with the program and get lean!
What “Lean” Marketing Means
The principle of “lean” originally applied to product development for startups and it was all about shortening the production cycle by eliminating excess steps and superfluous activities. When it’s applied to marketing, however, it means the ability to move quickly, stay focused and get results. It means learning to prioritize, tackle projects with foresight and organize around the sprint. It keeps your marketing agile, which enables you to tap into current trends, make decisions based on real data and perform more efficiently—like a well-oiled piece of machinery. Methods of doing this include the automation of repeatable marketing processes and Kaizen-based, efficient problem-solving.
Why You Need It
Marketing challenges typically fall into two main categories:
- Generating qualified, sales-ready leads with tools such as direct mail campaigns, trade shows and cold calling, all of which are quantifiably inefficient and ineffective
- Operating in isolation with little buy-in from other departments including sales, which means leads aren’t followed up effectively or nurtured along
Now, inbound marketing automation offers lean ways to streamline the management and nurturing of leads through the buying cycle without requiring extensive staff time. It also provides real intelligence about when the prospect is nearing the purchase decision stage, which means when sales gets the lead when it’s “hot” and ready for closure.
Implementing Marketing Automation
Automating the repeatable processes of your marketing is one of the most basic ways to achieve a lean approach to lead generation. You don’t have to be a large corporation to do it, either. You can get marketing automation software created for small and medium-sized companies with fees commensurate with your income levels. Marketing automation helps you to streamline your operations without sacrificing agility in the process. With the right software, you can perform much of your inbound marketing in such a way that it doesn’t take up any of your time. This helps your marketing to run like a well-oiled machine while still giving you control over the dynamics of the program.
Choosing Marketing Automation Software
Choosing marketing automation software is not like a box of chocolates, and you don’t have to settle for potluck. Look for software programs that enable the “lean marketing” approach, be pro-active instead of reactive and stay ahead of the game. You need to run your inbound marketing program like a start-up to avoid the complacency that comes with automating it.
The right software will help you to:
- Avoid wasting time by including all your essential data in one package, so it’s easy to monitor
- Set up repeatable processes for your lead-nurturing, which makes it possible for you to launch new campaigns quickly without spending precious time on new steps in the process
- Results in a faster time-to-market for your new or updated news, products or services
Once you have the marketing automation software in place, you’ll be able to make the shifts in strategy as necessary.
Following Kaizen Principles
The principle of Kaizen is big in lean companies. It means constantly looking for new and improved ways to do things while saving on costs. Lean marketing depends as much on automation as it does on resolving problems and challenges to your marketing program before they become bloated and unwieldy. Commit to daily stand-up Kaizen meetings with all your stakeholders, you can discuss openly the issues that are facing the various functions and leave with solutions you can use.
Things happen. That’s the nature of the business beast and you simply can’t always be prepared in advance for every possible eventuality. Developing repeatable processes for developing, distributing and tracking marketing content through your automation is just the beginning. Few marketers get it right on the first rodeo. What you can do, however, is be prepared for dealing with them. The PDCA method allows for continual evaluation and incremental improvements over time. According to the principles of lean marketing, the more smoothly you move through the PDCA cycle the less time and money you waste. Plan your marketing and implement it, then hold Kaizen meetings to find out how well you’re doing.
The “lean” methodology might not have been creating for the marketing function, but it has turned out to be a powerful way of making the process less labor-intensive, more effective and easier to monitor and adapt. By keeping your marketing agile and effective, you free up time for other, more innovative pursuits such as ongoing product development and improvement. These are the lifeblood of most small companies, and vital to your continued growth and success.