What Is Lean Marketing?

lean marketing

Despite what Aesop’s The Tortoise and the Hare taught us, slow and steady doesn’t always win the race – especially in marketing.

Trends come and go. Customer preferences and demands change. Competition ebbs and flows.

Long, drawn-out, high-concept marketing campaigns still have their place in the world for huge corporations, B2B marketers and those selling big-ticket items. However, small businesses might want to rethink their marathon strategies and opt for short sprints instead.

This is the difference between waterfall marketing and lean (aka agile) marketing. Let’s take a closer look at the difference between the two, and why your small business might find a lean strategy much more beneficial.

Waterfall Marketing vs. Lean Marketing

In waterfall marketing, everything cascades from the top down through incredibly rigid steps. Start with A, next comes B, then it’s C and so on. Each step depends on the completion of the previous one as the strategy flows down like a waterfall.

Lean marketing is a bit different. It’s composed of high-impact, short-term “sprints” that are usually completed in one to two weeks. Because of its rapid-fire nature, lean marketing allows you to be more efficient, respond quicker to triggers and adapt to any changes in real-time.

Think of it as going over Niagara Falls in a barrel versus shooting a set of Class III rapids on a rafting trip. You’re only going to get one shot at Niagara Falls; if something goes wrong midway down, you’re already committed to the drop. With the rapids, however, you can always pull off at a smooth spot, walk the raft back up 100 yards, and try again.

Short-Term Goals Equal Long-Term Success

Lean marketing is a game of increments, with each one contributing to the overall success of your marketing campaign.

Imagine you’re the owner of the New England Patriots. Once a dynasty, your franchise took a step back after your star quarterback took off for Tampa Bay and brought a fair amount of your current and former players along for the ride.

You could fire the coaching staff, send the GM packing, trade any players of value and start all over with a team of rookies. With this strategy, you might have a chance at playoff contention in five years, but likely not before.

Or … you could make a series of incremental changes that benefit you immediately while also getting you closer to your end goal. The right slot receiver might win you an extra game this season. A new offensive coordinator might win you another three. You’re still improving – you’re just doing so constantly, in smaller increments, rather than hoping to make a massive splash all at once.

Tips to Implement a Lean Marketing Strategy

If lean marketing seems like a good deal for your small business, here are a few tips to help you get started:

  • Work on One Task at a Time. There is no room for multitasking in lean marketing. Everyone needs to be working on the task at hand.
  • Embrace the Backlog. Since everyone is working on one thing at a time, a backlog of tasks will develop – and that’s a good thing! It means when you’re ready to go to your next task, you’ll be going into it with up-to-the-minute info.
  • Insist on Stand-Up Meetings. A stand-up meeting is a short meeting where everyone gathers to report on their progress as well as any struggles they’re having. These meetings are imperative to a lean marketing strategy so one hand always knows what the other is doing.

Are You Ready to Go Lean?

Lean marketing saves you time, makes you more efficient, allows you to course-correct when needed, and creates a better end product while still allowing you to set lofty goals for your small business. So…what are you waiting for?

Do you need some help trimming the fat from your marketing campaigns? Mischa Communications is at your disposal. Do you have a minute to talk?