Five Minutes a Day: Six Sigma Marketing Strategy

As we say at eBoost Consulting, know-how is only 20% of the equation. Know-why is 80%. Or is it 90%...?

Whatever. We'll let you argue the numbers. But this much is certainly true: if you aren't asking why you're doing things, then you're severely limiting the impact of how you''re doing things.

Let's take this a step beyond the surface.

Tell me, what does a top surgeon and an annoying five-year old have in common? Answer: they ask "why?" And if they aren't getting the answers they're looking for, then I'll bet you a coffee that they keep asking "why" until they do.

Can you say "why?" Good. Today's tip is for you.

Six Sigma, A Compendium.

Six Sigma principles prescribe a set of standards to improve performance, create efficiencies and decrease defects. Though popularized in the operations functions of numerous companies, Six Sigma principles are effective through all functions, including marketing. Let's apply the five phases of Six Sigma methodology to your own business case.

Define

Define the goal(s) of your strategic marketing plan. What's most relevant? Is it to gather business intelligence? Develop pricing models? Counter low-cost rivals? Reposition the business? Whatever it is, it must be specific and root-oriented (i.e. tied to your most important business problem).

Measure

What must be measured to track progress towards the determined goal? A few examples might be (a) profitability, (b) customer lifetime value, (c) conversion rate, and/or (d) # of business leads. Ideally, make the key performance metric you're tracking long-term focused. Otherwise, you'll fall into a common pitfall which is that your marketing strategy will be more tactical than strategic.

Analyze

This step translates the key performance metric into key insights that can be relayed into actionable intelligence. In other words, this step makes the data meaningful. The process for analysis must be collaborative across all functions to ensure objectivity and productivity. We recommend bringing in key members from each business function or business unit to participate is seeing what the numbers mean.

Improve

After deciphering the meaning of the data, the same group should devise scenarios to test that will theoretically improve the data going forward. The benefit here is that the organization will feel 'smaller' with more speed in decision making and agility in business maneuvers. The result marketing tests should be systematic, with the aim of improving metric performance. For instance, if you have a goal to counter low-cost rivals by increasing customer lifetime value (CLV), then you might experiment with blogging or sequential email sends to improve CLV.

Control

You'd think this is self-explanatory but this is undoubtedly the most overlooked phase. Perhaps most professionals figure that the tests are so bullet-proof that they give control only a cursory scan. Regardless, you must get this phase right. Assign leading and lagging indicators to the tests to track progress. This will mitigate risk of failed tests and instill the imperative of maintaining long-term discipline.

Conclusion

The beauty of Six Sigma and its principles is that it imposes the sequence that why must come before how, what, and where. It's as fail-safe a way of instituting a culture of "strategy before tactics" as any other. Put it in your place in your company, revisit it often, and witness why this feedback mechanism is a favorite of Jack Welch & eBoost Consulting!

- Johnny Chan, CMO, eBoost Consulting

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