Harvard Business School’s bnet posted an article last month about applying “lean production” methods to a service industry – in this case, a software developer based in India. Reference to a white paper on the subject published in October 2007 got me to thinking about how “lean production” is the heart of a well-run direct marketing department. In fact, best practices in direct mail are way lean.
a) Direct mail involves continuous testing, measuring, and adjusting.
b) In seeking improvement, components of a direct mail package are changed, but direct mail tests are evaluated as a total effort. That way we learn which component made the difference: the list, the copy, the design, the offer. Everybody gets a shot at doing better and proving it.
c) “Kaizen” (continuous improvement) is the goal and “good” is never “good enough.” Did the test out-perform the control? Yes … so we'll test again. Did the control out-perform the test? Yes .. we'll still test again.
d) All participants in a direct mail campaign – the marketing manager, the copywriter, the list broker, the designer, the analytics and data team – get their shot at improving. This offers everybody a chance to be part of the “lean production” experience, since a well executed campaign abolishes hierarchies and puts everybody on equal footing (if not, the marketing manager really needs to fix that).
Cross media marketing – which combines direct mail, email, and personalized websites to target market -- offers marketers an unparalleled opportunity to test, measure, evaluate, and adjust in real-time. Pretty exciting, huh?
-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo