While I love my DanielleMorrill.com blog, it is pretty much a smattering of random things I am thinking about and pieces of my personal life. And don’t worry, I won’t stop writing here, but I am looking forward to creating a more structured home for all my ideas about how marketing can be done effectively at startups.
Lately, I’ve been following along more closely with Eric Ries, Steve Blank and others who are talking about Lean Startup. I think it is really cool that “lean” has finally made it down from the ivory tower of Six Sigma to the nerf gun wielding floppy haired startup kids. And with the state of the economy, it couldn’t come at a better time.
How I Came To Love Lean
When I was 15, I started working for my Dad’s newly formed financial consulting company (he’s blogging now, woo!). After two failed startups that had attempted to marry technology and the finance/healthcare benefits industry he was ready to strike out on his own, and I served as his tech-support/office-manager/generalist. It was my sophomore year of high school, and the first year I really got to know my road-warrior of a father. As consult, the business was basically a one-man-show so I began to set up processes that would help things like reporting to scale as we took on more customers. The first business book I ever took down from his shelf was The Goal by Eliyahu M. Goldratt and Jeff Cox, and it was the seminal work that brought the concept of lean manufacturing to the average businessman when it was published in 1984.
I was fascinated by the “Theory of Constraints” – the idea that you have to run your business in a way that is appropriate to your constraints. You have a broken machine, materials shortage, broken supply chain, damaged orders? Figure out how to restructure your processes to serve your end goals and take the reality of your situation into consideration.
Why “Constraint Marketing” for Startups?
Marketing in the technology world is more than just brand awareness, it’s a core distribution channel for consumer and enterprise products that are sold on the internet. The new product supply chain isn’t interested in planes, trains, trucks, and boats. Instead it is interested in channels like display advertising, social media, webinars, and ultimately a call-to-action that leads to conversion.
So what if we applied the rules of lean manufacturing and supply chain to startup marketing? What would happen, what can we learn, and would be more effective marketers? I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve heard marketers derided for not being cost conscious enough, or efficient enough – and in that way I think I have a lot in common with a plant manager at a factory.
I think my experiences working in logistics (Expeditors International) as well as on-site for highly productive lean manufacturing factory concerns such as a Genie Industries and distributors like Zumiez were some of the most fascinating and formative experiences of my life. In the same way I am marrying the old and the new in telecommunications with Twilio, let me marry the old and new wisdom of product distribution for online products. We’ll see where this goes… I’m looking forward to feedback.
Stay tuned, http://www.constraintmarketing.com will be live soon