What is lean marketing?

With the focus of lean manufacturing to eliminate waste without sacrificing productivity, lean marketing enables businesses to increase efficiency, with the ability to respond to changes in the market and adjust marketing strategies accordingly.

Lean marketing is about being agile and viewing each activity as one step in the long-term, continuously improving process towards success. With a mindset to embrace collaboration and flexibility, lean marketing enables manufacturers to increase profit margin, sales pipeline, market share, innovate, and increase brand awareness and authority.

Today’s manufacturing businesses are no stranger to the agile development mindset. When mass-producing products, manufacturers uniquely appreciate the importance of refining iterations prior to creating the final mould. Similarly, when employing an agile mindset to marketing, business owners can ensure that the majority of glitches have been worked out prior to setting their final marketing strategy. The goal here is to avoid spending too much time and money on poor performing marketing tactics. Iterating in real-time ensures that minimal marketing budget is wasted because you’re constantly analysing and strategically redirecting time, talent and money to best-performing tactics.

How can lean be applied to marketing?

Applying lean marketing is no different to applying the lean process to other aspects of your manufacturing firm, such as the factory floor.

Here’s how:

  • There are defined processes for every aspect of a marketing project, campaign or activity.
  • All processes can be improved, whether it’s a website, email strategy, content writing or social media.

The benefits of adopting lean marketing for your manufacturing firm

Drive long term growth

Leaving space for failure and imperfection allows for marketing performance to be measured by the long-term results rather than any instant outcomes. Inbound marketing is a long-term strategy that helps manufacturing companies attract ideal customers with tailored content and valuable experiences. By creating helpful content to address the needs and pain-points of your target audience, you can attract qualified prospects to your business.

So, where does lean marketing come in? Lean (otherwise known as Agile) goes hand in hand with the inbound methodology. Inbound marketing is driven by data, marketing is no longer a guessing game. By applying agile to the inbound process, you can respond to the data accordingly as it happens, rather than sticking to stale methods that are no longer working. For e.g. You recently launched a trade show campaign and one week in, you notice the sign-up form to view your website virtual stand has fewer conversions than expected and email open rates are below average. By reviewing campaign performance daily, you can test a variant form layout and email subject lines rather than waiting a few months before realising the campaign is failing to generate qualified leads.

Blend lean and inbound marketing to:

 

1. Generate high quality leads
Leaving space for failure and imperfection allows for marketing performance to be measured by the long-term results rather than any instant outcomes. Inbound marketing is a long-term strategy that helps manufacturing companies attract ideal customers with tailored content and valuable experiences. By creating helpful content to address the needs and pain-points of your target audience, you can attract qualified prospects to your business.

So, where does lean marketing come in? Inbound marketing is driven by data, marketing is no longer a guessing game. By applying agile to the inbound process, you can respond to the data accordingly as it happens, rather than sticking to stale methods that are no longer working. For example, you recently launched a trade show campaign, and one week in, you notice the sign-up form to view your website virtual stand has fewer conversions than expected and email open rates are below average. By reviewing campaign performance daily, you can test a variant form layout and email subject lines rather than waiting a few months before realising the campaign is failing to generate qualified leads.

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2. Increase brand awareness and authority
For manufacturers, the traditional approach for generating brand awareness was to exhibit at certain trade shows throughout the year, requiring a massive investment of both time and resources. Most exhibitions only last a few days and surprisingly, most manufactures don’t accurately measure their long-term return from attending these events.

From company name and website, to your logo and advertising efforts, branding creates an experience for your customer and essentially influences whether people will love or overlook your company. Ultimately your business will be judged on how effectively it can communicate, deliver a solution that satisfies, and meet the expectations of your prospects, while being preferred to others in your category. Inbound marketing focuses heavily on content marketing to increase brand awareness and create high quality sales leads for your business.

By aligning content to your prospects interests, you will naturally attract inbound traffic that you can then convert, close and retain. By embracing content marketing for your manufacturing firm, you can position yourself as a thought leader in your industry. The content you publish should be informative, interesting and educational to help your target audience address problem areas they may face every day.

Increase profit margins

In manufacturing, a lot of focus lies on the efficiency of the factory process and not on the sales and marketing side, where huge gains can be made with the right marketing plan and implementation.

If you aren’t measuring it, you can’t improve it. With lean manufacturing, each process on the factory floor is measured and optimised over time to ensure efficiency and profitability. Lean marketing adopts a similar approach. Manufacturers can minimise marketing risk by decreasing budget when testing and then later increase marketing budget only after validating and verifying best-performing tactics.

Measure, Measure, Measure
To increase profit margin, you must be able to measure the performance of your business to identify inefficiencies. By measuring marketing performance, you’ll have the data you need to make smarter decisions that will drive improvements and growth. Just like robotics and automation can increase efficiency in the manufacturing process, a marketing automation platform like HubSpot can measure your entire marketing funnel, from acquisition to closing a customer.

Make changes in real time

Lean marketing encourages manufacturers to think and make choices in real-time. By testing, measuring and developing your marketing strategy continuously, you can react accordingly, whether it’s an underperforming campaign or changes in the marketplace. By outlining the desired goals from the outset, all team members are striving towards the same outcome and are aware of what needs to be done to meet these goals.

To make changes in real time, measurement is key. The ability to collect, combine and calculate data provides manufacturing marketers and management with a clear picture of how resources have been spent, campaigns are performing and the final return on investment gained. The metrics you want to track will depend on the goals you’ve set and what you want to achieve. While there’s numerous metrics you can measure, we’ve covered some of the most important to kickstart your reporting.

BLOG: Marketing metrics you should measure

Alignment

Lean marketing requires buy in from every level of a manufacturing organisation; from executives to marketing and sales. For example, if the sales team don’t share the high converting leads with marketing, marketing could waste time pursuing and nurturing low-quality leads that are unlikely to become customers. Likewise, if marketing fails to report which source (social, PPC, organic etc.) generates the greatest number of leads, how will they secure more budget from management?

When manufacturing sales and marketing teams unite with the same goals, they will successfully boost marketing ROI, sales productivity and most importantly, revenue. For marketing and sales to succeed, it’s important to share processes, challenges and resources to gain a perspective into each other’s worlds. Alignment between sales and marketing is a top priority for most manufacturing businesses, yet so many struggle to mend the tension and create a collaborative working environment. With different goals and disunity, the overall business performance can suffer.

BLOG: Smarketing: 5 tips for marketing and sales alignment in manufacturing

Final thoughts…

Just like lean manufacturing is all about eliminating waste from the manufacturing process, lean marketing also reduces the time and resources wasted on inefficient marketing strategies. In today’s fast paced manufacturing industry and evolving marketing world, changes are happening weekly. Marketing activities and platforms that worked in the past may no longer be right for your business. With lean marketing, manufacturers can improve results and increase marketing ROI with the ability to minimise risk and react quickly when necessary.