A Case for Not Using Lean/Agile in Your Marketing

Organizations trying to improve their sales and marketing processes react by investing into their software and automation. They add landing pages, generate content, develop auto-responders, email campaigns. That barely scratches the surface as SEO, Social Media, Video channels, Loyalty Programs, and other well-intended programs are rolled out. They take this material and integrate throughout the “system” to spread out to a variety of channels. What they have is hardly marketing collateral. What they have is a bunch of stuff. They soon realize that after all this work and a great deal of re-purposed content, that they have reached what we may want to call a point of diminishing returns.

I hate to compound this even more, but Wanamaker was right, Why should half of your marketing fail? Just running the numbers if you plan, and maybe even rightfully so, we could end up multiplying that noise an additional 50%. If we have our content promoted to multiple marketing channels through a channel of integrated programs, who is left to make sense out of it, let alone simplify it. And how do we improve it? The fact is most of us don’t we just do something new which is the least effective and efficient. Not because it’s bad but that is the nature of exploration, innovation.

Additionally, this could turn into a rant, the farther we go out into our planning process, the less accurate we are. As a result, we end up creating marketing “stuff” that is never used. Just as in software where 50% of software developed is never used. The reason is not in a failed planning process; it is that there are a lot of variables that are changing in a given time. We could simply say business priorities change, but it is even greater than that when we consider the number of integrating processes, people, and even products changing at a more rapid rate. And don’t forget that when we discuss waste in processes and people, we also have to consider the waste not only in what they did but what they were unable to do as a result of their time wasted, a double whammy.

The bottom line is how much of your marketing budget is wasted? And don’t react by investing more and more in planning.

I know what is expected now, right: AGILE. Or maybe, LEAN? I will be the first to tell you not to do Lean or Agile for that matter. What the attempt should be is to create a set of business objectives; from What to What by When. Surprisingly, when we embark on this journey most of us find out that we do not really know our starting point. Just the beginning of the objective, creating a current state can be challenging and to most of us revealing. Especially in the marketing context, we want to jump to something because not only the old is tough to fix, it is tough to explain.

This is where we start breaking down, chunking, processes into understandable pieces. We start documenting things that are not working and things that are. We start discussing what to stop, what to continue, what to improve and what to start new. We prioritize and tie to business outcomes to see if our improvement is working. Business outcomes build sustainability into our efforts. It is our motivator. And for all intent and purposes, that’s what makes Agile or Lean successful; it is yours.

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