A Little Law applied in Lean Marketing

Most marketing systems are out of control. They just have not been managed with understanding the process speed and the effect of the flow on the process. Understanding some of the drivers of this process is much simpler than you might think. A simple equation called Little's Law can tell us how long it will take any prospect to be turned into a sale simply by counting how many customers are in your funnel and how many sales we complete each day, week, etc.

Marketing Cycle Time = Customers in Process / Closed Sales

Little's Law is a pretty cool tool and more important than it might seem. Many of us may not know what our average marketing cycle time is, let alone the variation of it. But knowing when someone enters your Marketing Funnel and when they exit it might seem immeasurable. The thought of having to track a prospect through all the stages in the process may seem rather daunting. However, with Little's Law and segmentation of your individual channels, you can get a reasonable estimate of these factors. We only need two of these factors to get the third. It is just math! We need reliable estimates but if you look at segmentation closely and how Little's Law applies you can go a long way in getting some very useful numbers. If you know your customers and the process and how many sales you are closing you can estimate your cycle time. If you know your cycle time and the number as sales you close, you can estimate the amount of customers in your process.

These customers will be waiting between different stages or activities. It may be either internal or external reason but for this conversation it is not important. In lean, we consider this as someone's queue time. This time in waiting (queue time) counts is a delay, no matter what the reason. As you begin to track your customer's flow it soon becomes obvious that some of your activities from the eyes of your customers are of little value. A critical metric of waste for any process is what percentage of the total cycle time is spent in non-value added activities and how much of this is waste. The metric used is process cycle efficiency, which relates the amount of value added time to the total cycle time of the marketing process. Typically, marketing cycle efficiency of less than 10% indicates that the process has a lot of non-value added time or added wasted opportunity.

Marketing Cycle Efficiency = Value-added Time / Marketing Cycle Time

Waste is any time, cost, etc. that has no value in the eyes of your customer. All organizations have some waste. Lean shows us how to recognize waste and by utilizing these two simple and doable formulas. Don't accept that Marketing is not measurable, it is!


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...

Go Deeper | Website

Want More?

New Graphic
Subscriber Counter