July 5, 2012

Increasing Your Speed To Market

It’s interesting how many companies say they want to increase their speed to market. And then go right on throwing major obstacles in the way doing that.

If you want to move toward the market with the speed of well tuned racing bike, then guess what? You better make sure you have cleared the road and enabled the racer.


That enablement has a few key parts:

  • Allow the racer to make key decisions that move the process forward. For what good marketers are paid, they really have the credentials to make smart decisions without a ton of oversight. Executives need to clear obstacles – extra layers of approvals, committee meetings and the like – for the rider, who is primed to get to the market with all speed. Don’t make smart people navigate, enable them to race forward.
  • Benchmark so you understand what the actual time is under varying conditions. You can’t know if you’ve improved if you’re only using cursory measures.
  • Automate wherever you can. Having a detailed process where everyone flawlessly focuses on the finish line actually allows each person to contribute efficiently. It also allows you to understand specifically where critical time is lost. A lack of process is actually a fast way to slower progress. The sneaker patrol cannot move as fast as the racer needs. Workflows, QA checks, self service approaches for marketers allow opportunity to move to action more quickly. Just as there is a pre-race, in-race and post-race checklist, workflows put the right resources at the racer’s disposal at critical points. They also ensure safety. When the process is compromised, everything gets a little more (and sometimes a lot more) risky.
  • Keep testing new technologies all the time. Just as new tire materials, different frames, new gear come out, channels will change, messaging approaches will too. You need to continually allow the racer to combine his expertise with tools that will improve his performance. Just as racing has become technology intensive, marketing must embrace technology with wonder, delight and head-on engagement.
  • Collaboration and market sensing. It’s how you find those technologies referenced above. If you’re waiting for them to come to you, you are significantly yielding the potential for an edge in speed. The things that improve your performance might not come from your ad agency. In fact, I can pretty well guarantee they won’t. They may come from China, Russia, Chile or Colombia. If you aren’t watching, then you’re missing out.

In a marketing department, each person should contribute to creating customer engagement and value. In the same way, an entire team commits to speed to market – and stops throwing tacks on the track. Modern racers need clear paths, timed goals, technology and collaboration to win.

-cjgw aka Hermione1

(@erik_d, this one is for you. )

To see more of Cristene’s thoughts about Customer Experience, Marketing Process, and other general musings, you can read them on her blog Muse and Maven.