It took until the 1980’s for U.S. automotive manufacturers to realize how much they missed by ignoring Dr. W. Edwards Deming for thirty years. His revolutionary ideas on total quality management and continuous improvement helped Japan’s automotive industry experience an industrial enlightenment in the 1950’s.
With Deming’s help, Japan kept improving and caught Detroit asleep at the wheel.
Deming outlined fourteen points to give corporations a pathway when aiming for meaningful, measurable improvement in quality and results.
- Create constancy of purpose toward improvement of product and service, with the aim to become competitive, stay in business and to provide jobs.
Your B2B marketing program should include a goal of continuous improvement and an ongoing process for testing, analyzing and adapting. Start by focusing more on your customer’s needs than yours. They will recognize the results and the rewards will follow.
- Adopt the new philosophy. We are in a new economic age. Western management must awaken to the challenge, must learn their responsibilities, and take on leadership for change.
Embrace change and work together towards constant improvement. Your marketing efforts will never break through the clutter with anything different or better than your competition without a shared commitment to creating remarkable content.
- Cease dependence on inspection to achieve quality. Eliminate the need for massive inspection by building quality into the product in the first place.
All media is now digital so there are many ways to make mistakes in marketing at every point of the process. Invest in a well-trained and passionately engaged team and lose less time correcting errors and rejecting inferior work.
- End the practice of awarding business on the basis of a price tag. Instead, minimize total cost. Move towards a single supplier for any one item, on a long-term relationship of loyalty and trust.
It may appear a supplier or outside resource is providing a better deal at a cheaper price but this can be a danger sign. Consider the quality of their product, reputation for reliability and ability to stay on schedule and budget.
When choosing an outside agency, specialized talent, production vendor or media channel, be careful and very selective. Work with vendors that share your vision and understanding of your quality standards, your customers’ needs and expectations.
- Improve constantly and forever the system of production and service, to improve quality and productivity, and thus constantly decrease costs.
Focus on the pursuit of perfection. Aiming for this highest target will make you more competitive and it will have a positive impact on total costs by reducing waste and improving your process to make it more efficient.
Realistically there’s no perfect playbook for marketing. Breaking rules and taking extra risks can sometimes lead to breakthroughs. But by constantly striving to improve your process for the required steps of development, implementation, testing and refinement, you will have more time to consistently create remarkable content.
- Institute training on the job.
I believe a “never quit learning” mind-set is required for marketing. What “always worked before” may be the worst thing you can do today. There are constantly new tricks of the trade to learn and everything keeps evolving, including your competition. A proactive culture of on the job training can also assure new employees learn best practices and positive performance right from the start.
- Institute leadership. The aim of supervision should be to help people and machines and gadgets do a better job. Supervision of management is in need of overhaul, as well as supervision of production workers.
Good leadership empowers employees without intimidating them. Patient and considerate leadership can sometimes be a challenge in the marketing workplace. Quality of work can be subjective, ideas can be difficult to exchange and opinions can clash. But the principals of good leadership still apply and so do the benefits.
- Drive out fear, so that everyone may work effectively for the company.
Fear is a detriment to the creativity of individuals. People will limit themselves to avoid doing anything wrong and getting punished or called out on it.
To continuously discover smarter and more efficient ways of doing things it pays to encourage creativity. Individuals on the marketing team deal with challenging processes everyday and can more creatively solve problems if given the opportunity.
- Break down barriers between departments. People in research, design, sales, and production must work as a team, in order to foresee problems of production and usage that may be encountered with the product or service.
This is especially important for marketing and sales. There are more tools available that ever to help marketing and sales collaborate. Both teams should develop meaningful and measurable shared goals with each having “skin in the game”.
- Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets for the work force asking for zero defects and new levels of productivity. Such exhortations only create adversarial relationships, as the bulk of the causes of low quality and low productivity belong to the system and thus lie beyond the power of the work force.
Deming believed that employees or teams should be encouraged to set their own goals and develop their own themes. By taking ownership of the challenge, the employees take a personal stake in the shared endeavor.
Is there any department more qualified to set measurable goals and create meaningful slogans for themselves than the marketing team? I don’t think so.
- Eliminate work quotas on the factory floor. Substitute with leadership.
For a B2B inbound marketing program to be a lead-gen engine, content is required for fuel. But it can be a big mistake to focus on volume of content rather than the quality. If there’s any place on earth we could use less clutter and quantity of messages, it’s in marketing. Less is more if it’s of remarkable quality.
- Remove barriers that rob the worker of his right to pride of workmanship.
Seasoned marketing executives can become so conservative or dictatorial that it limits new ideas or approaches from being suggested by other members of the team.
Allowing for innovative initiative and sharing recognition for it can go a long way.
- Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement.
It’s impossible to create a continuously improving marketing program if you only train employees when they begin. Professional development training will keep every employee’s skills current and their engagement and performance at an optimal level. What I said before about training applies to ongoing education and retraining. Marketing is a “never quit learning” profession. And that’s a good thing.
- Put everybody in the company to work to accomplish the transformation. The transformation is everybody’s job.
In my opinion, this is the most exciting time ever to be in B2B marketing. We not only get to enjoy creating great work, we have the tools to measure results, analyze the effort and improve upon our ideas. There’s no excuse for laziness in marketing and now there’s no where to hide if you are. Everyone on your marketing team should share ownership of the challenge to transform through continuous improvement.