Today’s guest blogger is Joe Dager, of the site Business901. He’s a very active blogger and podcaster and he’s very active on Twitter (@Business901) as well. Joe also takes the step of turning the podcasts inteviews into free e-books, which you can also download.
Joe also focuses quit a bit on Lean principles applied to sales and marketing, so here is his guest post on that theme:
Don’t Market without your Kanban
It is an honor and a great pleasure to have the opportunity to provide a guest post for Mark’s readers and the opportunity to participate with him. Thanks Mark and keep up all the great work you do in promoting Lean.
Most people think about the marketing process as a function of lead generation and follow-up. They envision the marketing funnel which creates an excellent visual image of collecting prospects and narrowing the field till you produce a customer at the bottom. This image is often times a fair reflection of your marketing budget. You spend most of your money reaching out to the masses. It is an expensive proposition and seldom produces measurable results. However, you can’t just cap the funnel because you never know where your next lead or sale will come from.
The job of marketing is to increase prospects, create better odds in obtaining a customer, and increase the number and dollars per customer. I believe marketing is also responsible for decreasing the dollars in obtaining a customer. I think these five parts can be best served through Lean and more specifically using a Marketing Kanban.
If you introduce Lean into marketing it will not take too long before you are creating a Value Stream Map of the process. Most marketing people do not look at marketing as a process so it may take a seasoned mapper to facilitate. Without drilling down too far in the process you can gather numbers of prospects in each segment and the conversion rates as they proceed through your value stream. Typically to accomplish this you must use only one marketing channel at a time or segment your list by a category. When first mapping the process, use the best defined channel so that you do not fight the process. The Value Stream Map created will be the outline for your Kanban.
Kanban has recently been used in Lean Software development as a way of limiting work in process and the amount of new work that is introduced into the process. As a result, work would be pulled from the previous stage as work is completed and levels demand. It emphasizes throughput rather than numbers. If you have read my previous posts, you would recognize the emphasis I put on throughput and the need for this to be monitored in the sales and marketing process.
I have included an example of a typical Kanban board for an internet marketing company (click for a larger view):
I have established an abbreviated beginning and endpoint for clarity. Someone visits your website, signs up for your e-zine and is channeled to your Auto-responder that induces them to a Webinar. What makes this procedure effective is those numbers in the parenthesizes, your number of prospects that are in that particular segment of your value stream. As tasks are completed either for groups, categories or even individuals they are queued for the next stage.
Adhering to this process limits your work in a given stage. In Lean manufacturing we believe that limiting your Work in Process (WIP) is a good thing. It is also a good thing in Sales and Marketing. If you control the amount of work in your process you will respond to your prospects needs more efficiently and as a result increase throughput. Improving throughput is the quickest way to accelerate sales and as a result increase revenue.
Utilizing the Kanban provides a visual indicator to your WIP and as a result demonstrates exactly what is happening within your marketing cycle. It also allows you to visually see where your constraint is in your process (I used a horizontal hourglass to depict the constraint in the picture). At that point you can allocate resources, create divergent paths, perform triage in the preceding queue or as we would say in the Theory of Constraint world; elevate the constraint.
Don’t think of Kanban as a planning tool; think about it as an execution tool. Improving your marketing process does not have to constitute wholesale changes nor increased spending. Getting more customers into your Marketing “Kanban” may not solve anything at all. Improving what you do and increasing the speed that you do it may result in an increase in sales and decrease in expenses. That’s marketing!
About: Joe Dager is the president of Business901 and provides direction in areas such as Lean Sigma Marketing and Achieving Expert Status. Visit the Business901.com website for a collection of podcasts and eBooks with noted Authors, Consultants and Industry Experts in the continuous improvement arena.
About LeanBlog.org: Mark Graban is a consultant, author, and speaker in the “lean healthcare” methodology. Mark is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. Mark is also the VP of Customer Success for the technology company KaiNexus.