Lean Management and Your Marketing StrategyLean management is a potential game changer in every area of your business, including marketing.

A Lean business should apply its core philosophical tenets to the business as a whole, particularly including any area in which significant expenditures are seen.

As a Lean manager, you are obligated to be a good steward of your company's finances, spending your budget in the manner that best serves your customer's needs.

A Lean marketing strategy strips marketing down to what works, often leaving more funds available for continuous improvement in other areas.

Key Performance Indicators

Have you ever heard,  "It's not really measurable, but it's working?" Statements like this one are common in some areas of marketing, but they are not Lean-compatible. A Lean marketing strategy must be measured by preselected key performance indicators (KPIs), just as you would measure and evaluate any other aspect of Lean business.

Before beginning any marketing campaign, define its KPIs and how frequently the campaign's performance in each KPI area will be reported to you. For instance, a social media campaign might have KPIs including Facebook fans and sales through a custom referral link only used on social media sites.

What Do Customers Want?

Marketing is often looked at as a way to prospect for new customers. But your marketing strategy also affects your existing customer base. An effective strategy should both seek new sales and encourage repeat business. Borrow a strategy from Agile software development to evaluate this: Put yourself in the shoes of different customer and potential customer profiles, then articulate their wants in the first person. Here are some examples from the auto aftermarket industry.

  • "As a first-time auto owner with a limited budget, I want to know which car audio brand will give me the best value for a modest expenditure."
  • "As a auto modification enthusiast and weekend racer, I want performance testing data for every aftermarket engine part I buy."
  • "As a loyal customer who has used the same aftermarket headlight brand through five vehicles, I want to hear about it when my brand of choice wins an award or if there's a recall."
  • "As a car show competitor, I want a way to reach my favorite aftermarket brands in a hurry, in case I need help as I prepare for a show."

Is It Efficient?

Efficiency boils down to eliminating the unnecessary. Look at your KPI data and ask yourself which facets of a coordinated marketing campaign are having the most positive impact on your KPIs. Then, look at the tactics that aren't helping at all.

For example, maybe your social media engagement KPI is up 500%, but 90% of the increase comes from Facebook. If that is the case, you may be better off moving other platforms like Twitter away from marketing and into the customer service department, leaving those outlets as simply a way for customers to reach you if need be. Once that is done, negotiate with any external marketing firms to reduce your marketing bill going forward.