VSM Guiding Principles


Do you have principles for creating a Value Stream in your marketing?

I had Robert Martichenko of co-author Building a Lean Fulfillment Stream, on the podcast and he made a statement that a set of guiding principles must be adhered to or simple chaos may result. Following his lead and using the Lean Fulfillment Guiding Principles for an outline, I developed a set of guiding principles for Lean Marketing. An explanation follows:

Most companies have a process that moves prospects and customers through a progression such as a marketing funnel or a sales pipeline. This enables an organization to visual the process and give them an idea of how many sales are close to closing or how many people are entering the funnel or even how many are maybe A, B or C players.

The movement is rather complex and could cross many different marketing channels. At the end of the progression, a certain number of prospects become customers and the others are kept in our pipeline till they remove themselves. We even will attempt to enlist referrals, especially from our customers to put more people into the pipeline. This accumulation of prospects makes it difficult for business to understand the progression of their prospects and maybe even their marketing efforts.

Organizations must come to understand that they are building a value stream. Effective management of the pipeline is one of the most critical components in marketing today. Finding the obstacles that hinder flow creates one of the most cost-effective ways of increasing sales. A Marketing Value Stream can be very long and continuously changing. It is almost impossible for managers to evaluate every action taken with detailed analysis. Instead you must create a set of guiding principles that you take for fact and adhere to them. A set of guiding principles for Value Stream Marketing are:

1. Eliminate all the waste in the value stream: Creating flow in the value stream requires all departments and functions in an organization to work in harmony. Focus on the fundamental lean principle of eliminating waste.

2. Make marketing efforts visible to all members of the value stream through a Marketing Kanban: If marketing efforts are visible across the stream, then it is much easier for every participant to plan work.

3. Increase throughput: When a company can increase throughput to the point where it can exceed expectations of the customer, your marketing cycle times are reduced when work in process (number of prospects) in the cycle is reduced.

4. Establish a Marketing Cadence and create level flow: The ultimate goal is to have information move in a predictable, consistent, and uninterrupted manner based on the actual demand of the prospect or customer. This is known as level flow. Level flow reduces variation in processes and tries to spread activities equally over working time. This minimizes the peaks and valleys in movement that create unevenness and overburden, which result in waste.

5. Use pull systems: Pull Marketing systems are a way of introducing the value(achieve) that a prospect /customer would recognize by your involvement(access) within their communities(attract). These 3 levels of engagement evolved to a simple term of Pull Marketing. These three levels of Pull have been wonderfully described in the recent book, The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion. The authors defined these terms as Access, Attract and Achieve.

6. Increase velocity and reduce variation: Velocity is the speed with which information and material move through the value stream. Meeting customer/prospect demand by delivering marketing efforts more frequently increases velocity. This helps to reduce work in process and lead times, which allows you to more easily adjust delivery to meet actual customer requirements.

7. Collaborate and use process discipline: The collaboration of all participants in a value stream is necessary to identify problems in the stream, determine root causes, and develop appropriate countermeasures. To be truly effective, this collaboration must be combined with standard improvement processes and regular PDCA.

What principles do you have in creating a Value Stream in your marketing?