The entrepreneurial journey is quite the roller coaster to begin with, and things become so much more hectic when battling storms such as changes in leadership, budgeting issues, and periods of recession. These hardships don’t change the fact that downloads/views/sales/signups/etc. still need to be made. But how could all this be achieved relatively quickly, without breaking the bank? Lean marketing efforts are the trick.
Lean thinking in general is about making smarter decisions in the areas where time, energy, and money are being spent. In the marketing realm, it is a no-frills approach which focuses on the whole, rather than the sum of the parts. Less talking, more action. The benefits of this approach include greater productivity thanks to smoother operations and flexibility. Thanks to an improved staff morale, there is also an increase in product quality, and the customer satisfaction that comes along with it.
Here is some expert advice on lean marketing tips to help your business through difficult times.
1. Refine Your Messaging
From marketing to sales, to advertising efforts, messaging is key, and must periodically be updated to stay fresh and relevant. “Perhaps the most simple, and often overlooked, lean marketing tip is to refine your message,” says Mathieu Jang, a cofounder of the Affiliate Institute, an online education platform that specializes in marketing. “A mentor of mine would always tell me that you can go into a business and just by refining their message double their business without them having to spend any more money on marketing. In fact, they went as far as to say that ‘Your message is the one piece of your business that touches EVERY part of your business.’”
2. Apply “Zero Waste” Tactics Towards Marketing Efforts
The concept of “Zero Waste” doesn’t only apply towards tangible waste prevention measures to spare the environment and landfills. It also applies towards steering clear from the invisible, time-consuming tasks that are associated with marketing. “This is a common problem in the agency life. Too much time ends up being spent on activities that clients didn’t even pay for, such as needless brainstorming and strategy sessions,” says Julie Rosenberg, a freelance marketer with global clientele. “So much of the work is common sense, especially in the initial stages. Clients don’t see how much time is being spent in internal meetings, all they see are results. So what happened to the time that was spent in agendaless meetings, that could have been spent generating results? It was wasted. Such sessions should only take place when absolutely necessary, with the required number of people, for the shortest duration of time.”
This is something that goes well beyond the marketing arena. According to an article on the Harvard Business Review, “We surveyed 182 senior managers in a range of industries: 65% said meetings keep them from completing their own work. 71% said meetings are unproductive and inefficient. 64% said meetings come at the expense of deep thinking. 62% said meetings miss opportunities to bring the team closer together.”
3. Manage Expenses Efficiently, For Brand Advocacy
In eCommerce, there is great importance in maintaining capital efficiency in an effort to scale during testing times. As we have seen time and time again, it’s never a good idea to significantly raise prices in an effort to offset rising costs, especially in such a competitive market. “The best way to keep things in line is by having a good grasp on how to manage and allocate resources,” says Dr. Edward F. Group III, the Founder of Global Healing. “Keep your focus on managing operations with as little overhead as possible in an effort to execute efficient transactions that will keep costs lower for you and your customers. I tend to think more about the long term value of the customer. Stay true to your vision and mission as a business and the success you will achieve as a result will take care of the costs it took to get there.”
So what does this have to do with marketing? Think about it. At the start of the chaos surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, news quickly spread of which retailers practiced price gouging of essential items. That led to prospects searching elsewhere for the items they needed at reasonable price points. The awareness of ethical retailers for different products organically spread like wildfire, all through word of mouth, reviews, and social media status updates on customer satisfaction.
4. Look Beyond Sales Data
Business owners, in general, tend to be addicted to keeping a close eye on the numbers directly related to the bottom line. But you need to look beyond sales/returns/downloads/etc and factor all other functional processes, especially marketing efforts. “Don’t lose sight of marketing data that ties into ROI and conversions,” says Todd Lamb, the cofounder and Managing Partner of Purelife Organics. “It is in your best interest to look into this, as well as the data tied to backend operations, to get a better sense of the areas that need to be addressed and how it all fits into the puzzle.”
5. Understand That Teamwork Makes The Dream Work
Lean marketing efforts, or lean thinking in general, is just not something that one can take up and implement on their own. It’s a group effort, which starts with support from the top. So if you’re the CEO or CMO, it’s up to you to suggest and explain the benefits of lean marketing to your Marketing Director or Project Manager. “Leadership teams need to be on board from the very start when it comes to lean marketing efforts,” says Michelle Ickowics, Director of Business Development. “Greater efficiency is achieved when leadership commits to seeing projects through till they are completed. It also enables teams to complete more projects, and quickly gather lessons learned as they continue pushing forward.”
Lean marketing encourages innovation, growth, and camaraderie- and this is all while essentially saving time and money. If your company is batting an internal storm, the lean approach is the way to go.