The very best thing about organizing and “systemizing” your marketing is that you now have more tools at your disposal to understand and facilitate but not manipulate your customer’s efforts. I use the Duct Tape Marketing Hourglass as an example, but there are other similar methods and maybe a system of your own that would work as well. One of the tools, I found quite useful after working with the hourglass is the use of Cycle time. A Value Stream Map is quite useful in visualizing and providing calculations for cycle time.
Before I go into the explanation, the question should probably be: Who Cares? Throughput or decreasing your Marketing Cycle time can have very beneficial results. If you put customers through the cycle quicker it will more than likely increase revenue. If it takes 1 person 60 days in a normal cycle time, and you reduce it to 30, you should be able to double sales for any given period. It may also reduce expenses as there would be less people in the cycle at any given period. So increasing throughput can be accepted as a good thing.
If you look at the chart below, you will see the cycle time depicted in a value stream map. The blocks represent our value added marketing efforts. The empty spaces the non-value added time or waste. I am not going to be so naive and say that you can remove all the non-value added time and close a sale in 3 days. The point that I am delivering is that: you must learn how to mange the non-value time more effectively. Most companies deliver good presentations, advertise and get good PR. Where they fall short is handing the baton from one stage to the next. Non-activity turns marketing rotten. Even with good (refrigeration) techniques our leads may go stone cold.
Taking a look at the chart, the first thing you may notice is the time span differs for certain parts of the process. If you can make an effort to understand the customer’s process during this time, significant gains may be made. Your actual processing time is insignificant in most marketing. It is the lead time between the processes that are important. Consider, for example, if we would increase the offer to move someone from the Trust stage to the Trial Stage. Reducing the time from5 days to 2 days or not at all. Or maybe, you have noticed that quicker conversions happen when they attend a webinar. What would happen if we paid them to come to the Webinar? You may find out segmenting your process halfway through the cycle would allow customers to better understand the results that they may gain from your product. Many of your features and benefits may be confusing to certain prospects that are not utilizing those particular features anyway.
Speed is important in the buying process. Your total cycle time can be improved. However, it seldom can be done without more feedback loops in your system. Develop process blitzes to reduce these non-value times. Go to Gemba or the customer’s place of work and find out what happens during this time. See what is stopping them from moving forward. It may be an internal constraint within their company. However, the constraint may be yours. You may find your responses lack clarity. You may not be responding to the customers latest needs. Your ability to focus your resources on the customer needs may provide the overall clarity he needs this to make a more rapid decision.
One method is to create a vision of shorter cycle time, greater segmentation of your customers. It will enable you to do fewer actions in the cycle and much quicker. “It not the big that ate the small. It’s the fast that eat the slow” – Jason Jennings. Cycle times need to be addresses and improved. What methods are you using to accomplish this?
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