Lean Sales and Marketing: The iCustomer

One of the main reasons that I have attached marketing to the Lean methodology is the simple approach that is used and termed “Learn by Doing.” The Toyota Production System is known for Kaizen/PDCA that is explicitly built upon learning-by-doing effects.

Kaizen is a daily process, the purpose of which goes beyond simple productivity improvement. It is a process that, when done correctly, humanizes the workplace, eliminates overly hard work, and teaches people how to perform experiments on their work using the scientific method – Wikpedia.

The use of “Learn by Doing” techniques is what drives my adaption of Lean in the Sales and Marketing efforts. The basic premise of marketing today has become the interaction with the customer; the more humanistic, the better. Learn by Doing technique simply breaks the marketing process down into a series of validating loops with the customer.

If there is only one thing that you take away from the Lean Startup movement, it is the message that is sent about getting out of the office and validating whatever you are working on with the customer. It is a similar principle that is reinforced in Service Design and Design Thinking processes.

Going back to the The Lean Startup, an important lesson you can learn from this concept is not even in the book. Author Eric Ries sold the Lean Startup through Meetups, Lean Startup Sessions around the globe and later his own conferences. Secondly, he leveraged everything with the brilliant use of social media. However it was all high touch, low technology from a person that grew up in the software community. Even the Build, Measure and Learn adaption of PDCA is highly structured around gaining customer acceptance and validation; again, high touch.

No matter, what brilliant marketing efforts you may create or how automated your marketing funnel may become, it will fail against authentic and human touch. I think this customer interaction is the most important marketing tool you can have. I will term this customer interaction: the iCustomer.

In Lean Sales and Marketing the “Learn by Doing” concept is the iCustomer. It is not about sending another email, it is about the iCustomer. It is not another Voice Shout or tweet or even blog post, it is the iCustomer. If you want to know how effective your marketing efforts are? Measure how many iCustomers it creates. You have only one customer, the person that buys and uses your product. This is the person you must learn from. “Learn by Doing” must be done at the iCustomer.

Marketing and medicine seem to be relying more and more on technology. This Ted video demonstrates some strikingly parallel concepts to marketing. See how modern medicine is in danger of losing a powerful, old-fashioned tool: human touch. Physician and writer Abraham Verghese describes our strange new world where patients are merely data points, and calls for a return to the traditional one-on-one physical exam.

Related Information:
When Efficiencies and Innovation no longer work, is Customer Centricity the answer?
Service Innovation – Rethinking Customer Needs
Why the Lean SALES PDCA Cycle was Created!
Lean needs Marketing, more than Marketing needs Lean!

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