6 step process to Lean Marketing

Lean Marketing is a strategic methodology to streamline and automate the marketing processes in order to improve efficiencies through waste elimination. True lean companies strive to eliminate, not minimize all waste in the process. Most think of this as only a manufacturing or administrative function. This rule can apply when implementing lean marketing as well. In lean marketing a company should only have two components: An introduction to a new lead and the acceptance of an order. All other components would be considered wasteful and are candidates for elimination. That may be a little to pie in the sky but I do not believe that marketing should be off the hook from eliminating waste.

Here is a simple process to get started: The Five Step Process to Lean Marketing: I adhere to the Duct Tape Marketing System as a baseline for my Lean Marketing efforts and the implementation of the Marketing Hourglass as the most important aspect of it. How do you handle the critical elements of the Know, Like, Trust, Trial, Buy, Repeat, Refer stream and reduce waste in a lean flow?

  1. Create a Value Stream Map based on the Marketing Hour-Glass.
  2. Analyze each process and start asking these questions until you have eliminated all waste from the process:
    1. Why are we doing this process?
    2. What value/purpose does it serve the customer?
    3. How can we eliminate all waste from this process?
    4. Map new simplified process
  3. Implement and Test new process using the Plan, Do, Check, Act cycle.
  4. Simplify the Marketing Hour-Glass
    1. Eliminate all wasted activities that the customer sees little value in.
    2. Create dashboard with input/output measurements showing daily, weekly, monthly and yearly progress
  5. Implement Value Stream ROI and Resource Allocation
  6. Feedback develop visual metrics showing progress of the company's lean continuous improvement program.
There has been very good books written on Lean Six Sigma Marketing but they deal primarily with channel management. I feel that a true lean approach is what is needed in Small Business Marketing. This basic structure will add clarity finding not only waste but deficiencies in creating new leads and orders in your marketing hour-glass.


Joe Dager is President of Business901, a progressive coaching company providing no-nonsense direction in areas such as Lean Six Sigma Marketing and organized referral marketing. What others say: In the past 20 years, Joe and I have collaborated on many difficult issues. Joe’s ability to combine his expertise with “out of the box” thinking is unsurpassed. He has always delivered quickly, cost effectively and with ingenuity. A brilliant mind that is always a pleasure to work...

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