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The Art of Lean Marketing

Revolutionize your marketing to drive business results by applying the Japanese concept of Muda.

In the world of business, marketing plays a crucial role in driving results. It is part of creating a desirable the product or service, building demand for it, shaping an engaging brand, and ultimately increasing sales. However, the process of marketing itself can be plagued with inefficiencies and wasteful practices, that can harm a company's bottom line.

In this blog post, we will explore how the concept of seven types of waste, known as "Muda" in Japanese. Applied in the field of marketing, this strategic concept can decrease costs and increase the efficiency of your marketing budget.

Muda originated in the Toyota Production System, a manufacturing methodology developed by the Japanese car manufacturer Toyota. It refers to any activity or process that does not add value to the customer and is therefore wasteful. Many popular business concepts, such as total quality control (TQC), just-in-time manufacturing (JIT), Lean, Agile, etc. are all connected with this simple, but powerful idea of reducing waste.

The concept defines seven types of waste that can occur during a production process. And although it was created in the field of manufacturing, it can be applied to services too.

Overproduction (Muda 1)

What is it?: Producing more than the customer demands or producing too early, leading to excess inventory and increased costs.

In marketing, overproduction can occur when a company produces more marketing materials than necessary or produces them too early, leading to excess inventory and increased costs. For example, a company that creates too many presentations, brochures or flyers before determining the target audience may end up with an excess of unused marketing materials.

Waiting (Muda 2)

What is it?: Any delay in the production or marketing process that leads to wasted time and idle resources.

Waiting can occur when there are delays in the marketing process, such as delays in product launches or approvals for marketing campaigns. This can lead to wasted time and resources, as marketing teams wait for approval or launch dates to move forward. Waste in production can occur also when marketing is burdened with heavy procedures or lack of skills that do not allow quick time to market. For instance a video needs to be produced for an internal event - if there is no quick access to skilled people who can deliver the same day, the company may need to prepare a brief, meet an agency, wait for proposal, etc. At the same time tech-savvy Gen Z influencers have created various types of content for their social media platforms using AI-powered tools such as CapCut, Canva and the likes.

Transport (Muda 3)

What is it?: Unnecessary movement of goods or materials in manufacturing that can increase costs and lead to delays.

Transport waste can occur in marketing when there are unnecessary movements of marketing materials, such as shipping materials between different locations or departments. This can lead to increased costs and delays in the marketing process. Transport waste is possible if for instance the company invests in participating in a fair with a beautifully curated stand, but has not assured top sales people at the stand to close deals. The costs of transportation and building the stand are wasted if the process of selling is not completed.

Overprocessing (Muda 4)

What is it?: Using more resources than needed to produce a product or service, leading to higher costs and lower efficiency.

Overprocessing in marketing can occur when there is excessive use of resources to produce marketing materials. For example, creating overly complicated marketing campaigns that require extensive resources and time, but may not add significant value to the customer. This is why before we start a marketing campaign we need to ask: how do we define success, what are the KPIs or OKRs we want to achieve? If we do not know, we better not start.

Excess inventory (Muda 5)

What is it?: Stocking up on inventory that is not needed, leading to increased costs and reduced cash flow.

Excess inventory can occur in marketing when there is an oversupply of marketing materials, such as unused promotional presentations, products, brochures, or other unused physical or digital communication assets. This can lead to increased costs and reduced cash flow.

Unnecessary motion (Muda 6)

What is it?: Any movement or action that does not add value to the product or service, leading to wasted time and resources.

Unnecessary motion in marketing can occur when there are unnecessary movements or actions that do not add value to the customer. For example, conducting market research on topics that are not relevant to the target audience. Many companies sit on mountains of data. The good ones manage to organise data into useful insights. The better ones are those who follow up with concrete actions after the presentation of the data analysts have finished. The great ones measure again to track progress.

Defects (Muda 7)

What is it?: Any mistakes or defects in the product or service that lead to wasted time, resources, and materials.

Defects in marketing can occur when there are mistakes or errors in the marketing materials or campaigns, leading to wasted time, resources, and materials. For example, a typo in a marketing email may result in customers not taking the company seriously or even unsubscribing from the mailing list. Fixing such mistakes can be time-consuming and costly so automation may need to be implemented to fix those.

Applying the principles of Muda to marketing can help businesses identify and eliminate wasteful practices, allowing them to optimize their marketing operations and maximize results. By focusing on minimizing the seven types of Muda, companies can reduce costs, improve efficiency, and enhance the customer experience.

Victory Corners 2023, by Viktoriya V. Blazheva

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