What’s Six Sigma got to do with Marketing?

Everything is the answer!

I first romanced with Six Sigma with a Green Belt Certification in my first assignment at my first job. Several years later I eventually obtained a Black Belt in Six Sigma from UT Austin. DMAIC is the foundation of Six Sigma. Continuous process improvement, inventory optimization, and supplier rationalization don’t happen without measurement, analysis, insights and control. It is not just about mining data to create fancy charts but to derive insights and to act on them.

“Make the Plan and Work the Plan,” said a consultant I worked with in my prior job. It’s probably the simplistic way of conveying the DMAIC philosophy. Since my Green Belt days, the jargons have changed quite a bit – Plan Do Check Act, Better, Faster, Cheaper or Sales & Operations Planning or Emergent Strategy, however, the essence has remained the same. Be it, meeting your planning, inventory, revenue or profit objectives, the drive to learnimprove and act, for me is the essence of the Six Sigma methodology.

Make the Plan and Work the Plan

Typically you always hear about applications of Six Sigma or Lean Manufacturing to Manufacturing. I have read/heard about where GE has extended it to various other functions within a business. As my career has progressed, the core fundamentals of listening to the voice of the customer, data-driven analysis, and continuous process improvement have found applications from manufacturing to marketing.

Marketing in software products company brings together the best of creativity, analytical and research skills into one job. The analytical and the researching aspects follow the DMAIC philosophy, and the creative angle teases it. The voice of the customer translates to Market intelligence, an intensive data-driven process of listening to behavior/interactions of the website/social media/webinar/ tradeshow visitors through a variety of marketing tech tools. Converting the visitors to leads and revising the strategy to improve Traffic to Lead conversion, economically(Check out Steven Daar’s book on Profit Hacking) is the Kaizen, we marketers live in.

Core fundamentals – voice of the customer, data-driven analysis and continuous process improvement

Few objectives in my prior application of DMAIC in the manufacturing world were On-time Delivery, On-time Shipment, Inventory Turns, and in the marketing world, this translates to traffic, lead generation and pipeline creation. The creative angle of storytelling, messaging and positioning in the Marketing paradigm teases the Six Sigma methodology. However, given the extent of martech out there, marketers quickly study and revise based on what’s working and what’s not. One can argue that this process makes it bring under the umbrella of DMAIC.

For a data-driven, Kaizen and VOC person, books such as The Sales Acceleration Formula by Mark Roberge and Winning with Data by Tomasz Tunguz & Frank Bien are just music to my ears. The authors discuss a data-driven culture as a foundation which takes the art out of various functions and brings science to it.

A science which is measurable, repeatable and scalable.


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