Marketing with Lean

Interview Questions on Lean Marketing 0

I answered these questions a while back for José Miguel Vives Martínez on for his blog, ALTACUNCTA.  I thought I would share the English version.

Where did you learn about Lean for the first time?

I have always been an avid reader and on a journey of personal continuous improvement. I learned about Lean during the time I was president of a company that manufactured construction equipment. After reading Lean Thinking by Womack and Jones, I realized that my mentor had been practicing these very same principles. He did not call it Lean, nor was it Lean – but in essence it was without many of the tools. I was extremely fortunate because the culture was already established. I did not know how difficult it was to create the atmosphere (Culture) till after I left.

Which are their key points of Lean Marketing?

Lean marketing is about installing a continuous improvement methodology to your sales and marketing process. It‘s about constantly improving every step up the way. In the smaller scheme of things it is about improving a launch, an advertising campaign and even a sales call. However, in the bigger scheme of things it is about building a structure that creates a learning organization based on an ever?increasing knowledge of what the customer values.

The Lean practice of PDCA is ideal for learning and creating knowledge activities. Following this process it allows individuals and teams to recognize and take advantage of opportunities, make decisions faster, and be more responsive to customers. As part of the PDCA cycle you get feedback on the action from listening to customers and the companies’ measurement systems. Having information, taking informed action and getting feedback is part of the natural PDCA cycle. And effectiveness comes from using and taking advantage of all your resources.

What is the roll of the technologies in Lean Marketing?

The new wave of marketing has seen an entirely new set of tools being used with the components of social media leading the way. No longer do we trust print media, radio, television and other forms of traditional media. The tools have all become a commodity. Why? What has happened is that we have innovated many of the same push marketing practices into today‘s nomenclature. Not really changing much except for the tools. Lean Sales and Marketing is not dependent or divorced from the tools. The feedback mechanisms and social media practices of today is what has finally allowed Lean to be applied to the Sales and Marketing arena.

Which are the benefits for a company adopting Lean Marketing?

Why won’t Lean commit to the Demand Chain the way it committed to the Supply chain? I have been addressed this issue in blog posts (Can Service Design increase Customer demand? and Is Lean and Six Sigma a waste of time?) and in many discussion groups and have found it baffling to me that most Lean practitioners resist this thought and either ignore it or try to tie sales and marketing to internal improvements. You would think most practitioners would be eager to apply their skills and Lean to the demand side. Unleashing the power of continuous improvement to the field of sales and marketing should not frighten anyone, it should inspire them. Addressing the demand side of the equation is the single most important improvement effort and game changer that can take place at a company today.

How Lean Marketing is received by the companies and which are the main barriers in order to be adopted and how we can to overcome it?

It stems back from the fundamental way that continuous improvement and quality has been developed. It has developed from the field of engineering which is laden with logical, step by step thinking processes. We find a problem define the solution and so on. It has worked very well on the supply chain side but the demand side is anything but logical and seldom follows any pattern. Value Stream Mapping on the demand side may identify numerous waste opportunities but which one would you remove? Why should 50% of your marketing fail? is not folklore, rather for most a true statement. It just does not match up to the logical thinker. Getting out of the office and interacting in the way your customer uses the product is foreign to most companies but is the predominate thought in Lean Sales and Marketing.

Why do you believe that Lean can be the future of marketing?

The ever increasing platforms of co?producing, open?innovation, co?creation is moving innovation from an exclusive internal platform to a more external platform. True innovation is not happening inside the 4 walls of an organization but out in the customers’ playground. As Voice of Customer tools get more sophisticated, we are not reacting and thinking of the next step needed to delight our customers, we are allowing them to show us the way. Organizations may lead in “design” but in use it is the customer and in use is where the value is derived. Marketing is no longer just about getting the message out. It is about bringing the message in. The Lean model builds a bridge for better communication and collaboration between your organization and the customer.

If you want to share any specific thoughts, you can do it right here completely free. Final thoughts, etc.

Many would argue the Lean is about incremental improvement. It does not allow for breakthrough thinking. I agree that SDCA and PDCA and even the continuous mindset may not deliver breakthrough thinking. However, like most things you start one step at a time. The culture of Innovation starts with culture of continuous improvement. To start with breakthrough thinking is very difficult and typically not successful. You cannot just turn it on. So starting with PDCA and a continuous improvement is the only successful way, to create this “i (little i) culture.

Ramping it up and truly doing breakthrough thinking, the big ‘I” is when you must engage and understand your customer/market extremely well. I like to use the term EDCA learned from Graham Hill to designate the Explore aspect of Lean. I view it as more of Design Type thinking content that allows for that collaborative learning cycle with a customer. This is a link to my blog post on the tools of SDCA, PDCA, EDCA:

Why Lean? Design and Innovation takes place outside the four walls and Lean can be the methodology of choice. It drives both the Little i and the Big I. The first and foremost reason is that it allows the 1st step for innovation. Lean is the primary driver for the little i DNA. As a result, it allows for that culture to spread and create the DNA for the BIG I. Without Lean and the little i, you may never start!

Lean Sales and Marketing: Learn about using CAP-Do

Lean Engagement Team (More Info)

Using the Lean Startup Method for Product Branding 0

Author Laura Busche joined me for a conversation about startup branding. Her book is based on the Lean StartupTM  principles and is titled; Lean Branding (Lean (O’Reilly)). It is part Laura Buscheof the Lean Startup series of books by O’Reilly.

Lean Branding is a practical toolkit that helps you build your own robust, dynamic brands that generate conversion. You’ll find over 100 DIY branding tactics and inspiring case studies, and step-by-step instructions for building and measuring 25 essential brand strategy ingredients, from logo design to demo-day pitches, using The Lean Startup methodology’s Build-Measure-Learn loop.

Download the MP3

Business901 iTunes Store

Mobile Version

Android APP

Lean Sales and Marketing: Learn about using CAP-Do

Special Marketing with Lean Book and Program offers on Facebook

One Bit of Advice from Lean Branding Author 0

Tomorrow will be a special edition of the Business901 Podcast. Lean Branding (Lean (O’Reilly)) author Laura Busche joined me for a great conversation about startup branding. Her book is based on the Lean Startup Principles.  

An excerpt from the Podcast:

Joe: If you could give one bit of advice to someone about branding, what would it be? Lean Branding

Laura: A couple of bits of advice that are in the book, a couple of quotes that I’d like to highlight and that reflect this very solid advice that I would like to give to entrepreneurs or intrapreneurs that are trying to build their brands are, on one side we have this bit of advice, “People relate to people and if your brand feels like people, they’ll relate to you too.” The point behind that is that brands need to be humane and they need to react to people’s aspirations and they also need to build personalities that allow them to relate back to these people. So that’s sort of not very intuitive but once you start getting a hold of how other brands have done it which is something that the book does, you understand how important it is to be humane as a brand.

The second bit of advice which is also a quote from the book is that, “Successful brands have a compelling answer whenever consumers ask, what’s in it for me?” So the “What’s in it for me…” question is something that you need to address. It’s simple, if you want to write it down in front of you, if you want to write it on your walls, if you want to print it somewhere, that’s something you should do because this is the essential question behind your relationship with your buyers. It’s, “What’s in it for me…” and it’s something that the book highlights a lot. Whenever you’ve reached resonance which is what we call in branding, when your message is really being listened to by your consumer and understood, whenever that happens, it’s because you’ve provided a very good answer for their what’s in it for me question.

Lean Sales and Marketing: Learn about using CAP-Do

Lean Engagement Team (More Info)

Dan Jones on The Future of Lean 0

I ask Dan Jones,  “What is the future of Lean?” as part of the podcast/transcription: Dan Jones on Lean.  Dan is a management thought leader and advisor on applying lean, process thinking to every type of business across the world. He is the founding Chairman of the Lean Enterprise Academy in the UK, dedicated to pushing forward the frontiers of lean thinking and helping others with its implementation.

Dan Jones:  A lot of people want to pull Lean in the operational excellence box. And so OK, there’s a bunch of tools for operations folks, and I don’t have to worry about them. If I’m a senior manager, or if I’m in sales or if I’m somewhere else, I don’t have to really worry about them. Well, I think that’s not the true value of Lean at all. The future of Lean is about building a different way, building a management system to support the value creation process. We’ve done a lot of work thinking about what a Lean management system looks like in many different sectors. It is actually a different way of managing collaborative work, both within companies and between companies to create value for customers.

On the one hand, it’s about management. On the other hand, it’s also about rethinking and redesigning new ways of creating value that are now possible given technology, etc. On the other hand, envisioning the design of completely new processes and new business models that will in many cases replace the old ones.

What we’re doing is we’re at the moment still living in the legacy of the assets of mass production, the massive great hub airports, the huge massive central warehouses, the big superstores, the big district general hospitals and so on and so forth, the big postal sorting offices, the big back office headquarters or transaction processing facilities of the banks.

These are all legacies of mass production based upon routine operations and scale. What we’re doing now is designing a completely different business models that are not as asset intensive that are probably more technology intensive or IT intensive and I think open up a completely new ways.

We’re still living with those assets and until they’re depreciated or written off the new models struggle to survive. But I think it is happening. I just think in healthcare we are seeing the beginning of the end of the big district general hospital. I think in retailing we’re seeing the end of the big, big superstores as a way forward. Even Wal-Mart, along with Tesco and many others are now focusing on neighborhood stores, and they’re integrating those with home shopping.

Business models changes, I think, ultimately will come from our understanding or process view of the work, or how we organize the work to solve customers’ problems.

So I think those are two directions. I think the third direction is actually a learning dimension, which is that I think that we’re realizing that the quality movement, and certainly integrate into the Lean movement, taught us not only about the statistical analysis of variance but he taught us also about the value of PDCA ?? plan, do, check, act or some scientific method in solving problems, the closed loop of problem solving method.

I think there are people already beginning to start teaching that in schools, even in primary schools. I think teaching people a different way of thinking about how to solve problems is actually probably going to be one of the major lasting legacies of Lean.

Lean Sales and Marketing: Learn about using CAP-Do

Lean Engagement Team (More Info): The ability to share and create knowledge with your customer is the strongest marketing tool possible.

Communities Just Don’t Happen Mind Map 0

I have gotten out of the habit making as many mind maps as I once did. It is probably because the amount of books that I now have on Kindle. My current tendency is to highlight and make electronic notes in the book itself. It has replaced the post-it-notes inside the books on my bookshelf. However, I recently was reading The Adaptive School: A Sourcebook for Developing Collaborative Groups that I not only littered in post-it-notes but had an outstanding chapter on communities that I could have just highlighted the whole chapter. Instead, I made the following mind map.


Download PDF: Communities Just Don’t Happen

I had first found the book as a result of researching work by Bill Baker on the Seven Norms of Collaboration. These are a set of tools to create productive communication:

  1. Pausing
  2. Paraphrasing
  3. Probing for Specificity
  4. Putting ideas on the table
  5. Paying attention to self and others
  6. Presuming positive intentions
  7. Pursuing a balance between advocacy and inquiry

My first thoughts about both of these items; “What a great set of sales tools!” 

What are yours?

Update on Marketng with PDCA 0

Marketing with PDCA is about managing a value stream using PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act). Using the new SALES PDCA Framework throughout the marketing cycle will provide constant feedback from customers, and can only occur if they are part of the process. It is about creating value in your marketing that a customer needs to enable him to make a better decision.

Targeting that value proposition through the SALES PDCA methods described in this book will increase your ability to deliver quicker and more accurately than your competitor. It is a moving target and the principles of Lean and PDCA facilitate the journey to customer value.

This book also introduces the Kanban as a planning tool or, as I like to 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 can result in an increase in sales and a decrease in expenses.


Table of Contents

  1. Lean Marketing House
  2. Future of Marketing
  3. Marketing Funnels
  4. Cycles to Loops
  5. Knowledge Management
  6. PDCA
  7. Sales and Marketing Teams
  8. Kanban
  10. Marketing with PDCA Summary
  11. Marketing with PDCA Case Study
  12. Constancy of Purpose
  13. Marketing with Lean Program Series

SALES PDCA is the framework I use for the process that takes place in the customer groups. It is nothing more than a standard PDCA cycle except the SALES part of the framework is where the sales team gets its directions and coaching from the team coordinator and value stream manager. Within the actual PDCA stage the sales team is empowered to make their own choices and determine their own direction to accomplish the goals of that cycle. This framework is introduced in the Marketing with PDCA book.

The individual stages of the SALES – PDCA framework are as follows:

Select the initial problem perception
Analyze the current knowledge of the process
Locate the people who understand the process
Empower the team
Select the improvement that needs to take place
Plan the improvement that needs to take place and plan the change
Do it the new way, execute the plan.
Check the results of the plan to determine whether the plan worked.
Act on the results. If the plan worked, standardize the change. If it didn’t work, readjust and go through the cycle again.

Lean Sales and Marketing is built upon the philosophy that there has been a subtle shift to knowledge as the way to engage, develop and retain your customer base. The sales and marketing team must act as a vehicle to cultivate ideas not only within their four walls but more importantly from their customers and markets. If this is true, how do create new knowledge? How do we learn? Most studies show that we learn best by doing and by being forced to resolve our perspective with those of others who disagree with us. This means that you have to encourage contradictions and be willing to push the envelope with your customers.

This is a strange paradox. Disagreement with your customer can hardly be seen as a positive mechanism for sales and marketing. However, it is the embracement of this understanding that will move your sales and marketing efforts to a higher level of performance.

Can you disagree with a customer? Can you purposely cause tension? You must! You must move away from the comfort zone and create a healthy tension and instability in your sales and marketing process. The first step in doing this is that you must create an atmosphere of respect. The next step in the process is surprisingly easy but difficult to do. It is the process of reflection or in Japanese, hansei. There are three key components of hansei:

  1. Recognize that there is a problem – a gap between expectations and achievement – and be open to negative feedback.
  2. Voluntarily take responsibility and feel deep regret.
  3. Commit to a specific course of action to improve.

The first step, acknowledge that there is room for improvement is not that difficult. However, putting a number to it may be a different story. When we create a performance gap we identify 2 things, one where we are at now and where do we want to go. Of course we may not get there overnight but there will be limitations. You have to determine what is realistic to achieve. A simple but effective way of looking at it is, “From what to what by when”. The second step can simply be stated – don’t look for excuses. Take responsibility, feel a little humility and move forward. Without this, you will never fully release from the past and it may be much more difficult to bring fresh ideas to the table. This is your action plan to move forward. However, without step 2, you will seldom be passionate about step 3. It will just be another effort and ownership will be limited. Ownership cannot be done without an emotional attachment.

The steps of Respect first, Reflection second will drive the 3rd step of Kaizen or continuous improvement. This is the process and culture of PDCA in your marketing cycle. It is the embodiment of tension, a performance gap to send you off on a new path. This path acts as expanding spiral of co-creation of knowledge with your customer that will be truly valued. THE ABILITY TO SHARE AND CREATE KNOWLEDGE WITH YOUR CUSTOMER is the strongest marketing tool possible. Few companies will take this path. Few companies will take the time to develop the level of respect required. Even fewer will use Hansei and look at performance gaps releasing their own pre-determined reasons. Few will ever practice continuous improvement in sales and marketing.

Purchase Marketing with PDCA

Lean Service Design Program Offer 0

Lean Service Design changes the way you think about business. No longer can companies focus their efforts on process improvements. Instead, they must engage the customer in use of their product/service rather than analyzing tasks for improvement. We no longer build and hope that there is a demand. We must create demand through the services that we offer and Lean Service Design is the enabler of this process. It changes our mindset of thinking about design at the end of the supply chain to make it look good and add a few appealing features.Lean Service Design Instead, it moves Design and the user themselves to co-create or co-produce the desired experience to the beginning of the supply chain.

Or, purchase the Lean Service Design Program!

Purchase the 130 page PDF for download, Lean Service Design

The umbrella of Lean offers Service Design a method of entry into a well-established market. Lean has been very successful in Services and Design through traditional practices. However, we must move away from these traditions and institute a wider scope of Design to Services. This download contains a 130-page PDF book, workbook with forms, PDFs and training videos.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter 1 – Lean (SDCA)
  • Chapter 2 – Service (PDCA)
  • Chapter 3 – Design (EDCA)
  • Chapter 4 – Trilogy

In addition, for a limited time, I have included 2 popular eBooks from the Marketing with Lean Series:

  1. Lean Engagement Team (More Info): The ability to share and create knowledge with your customer is the strongest marketing tool possible.
  2. CAP-Do (More Info): What makes CAP-Do so attractive is that it assumes we do not have the answers. It allows us to create a systematic way to address the problems (pain) or opportunities (gain) from the use of our products and services.

Or, purchase the Lean Service Design Program!

Purchase the 130 page PDF for download, Lean Service Design

Connect with Me on LinkedIn and Mention the Date of the Blog Post

I will send you a Free PDF of The Lean Marketing House

A few reasons to consider the Lean Marketing House book:

  1. Is there a reason to use Lean in Sales and Marketing?
  2. Do you have to be practicing Lean in the rest of the company?
  3. Is Lean Marketing the same as Agile Marketing?
  4. How does A3 problem solving relate to Marketing?
  5. Why is Social Media so Lean?
  6. Can your company ever complete a Lean Transformation without Sales on board?
  7. What does Knowledge Creation have to do with Lean?
  8. Develop stronger partnerships with your customers?
  9. Provide a methodology to become more precise in your sales and marketing?
  10. Begin a continuous improvement program in your sales and marketing?

Book Description: When you first hear the terms Lean and Value Stream most of our minds think about manufacturing processes and waste. Putting the words marketing behind both of them is hardly creative. Whether Marketing meets Lean under this name or another it will be very close to the Lean methodologies develop in software primarily under the Agile connotation. This book is about bridging that gap. It may not bring all the pieces in place, but it is a starting point for creating true iterative marketing cycles based on not only Lean principles but more importantly Customer Value.

Or, purchase the Lean Service Design Program!

Purchase the 130 page PDF for download, Lean Service Design