We’ve got to let people know who we are and why we’re still relevant


How does lean thinking apply to marketing? This is an interesting question I’ve been asked now again and with no definitive answer in the literature – let’s explore?

Quality is what we first seek in lean – quality in terms of earning customer’s smiles, through employees’ smiles. Quality, however, is never set, always mysterious, and needs constant thinking about.

The first step into the lean quality discussion is asking oneself:

What do customers come and look for when they come to us they would not find anywhere else?

The second specific lean aspect is that product/service or process are considered as one same thing – two sides of the same coin, or the back and the palm of the hand. The way we make the product build in its quality, and the features we design in it leads us build in the necessary technical processes in production and delivery.

The marketing step is therefore: how do we let people know it? And here, we can take a master class from marketing genius Steve Jobs when he returned to Apple in 1997 to change the world as we know it. Two questions:

  • What do you represent for people?
  • How is it relevant to the world today?

Experience shows that any human group, in the end, doesn’t have much room for more than two, maximum three core values. Let’s use a Major and a Minor as a model. In Apple’s case, we’re looking at great products (not good, great) with simplicity (as opposed to complexity). In Toyota’s case, this would be an affordable car in every range offering a pleasant drive and peace of mind.

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I’m going out on a limb here, but the lean way to marketing could be:

  1. Know what you stand for
  2. Let people know
  3. Prove to them its relevant and makes their life better

And then make sure you deliver, and that what you do actually represents what you say.


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