Six Sigma is a quality control methodology that has taken the management world by storm. Since its conception in 1986 by Motorola, it has spread like wildfire due to its cycle-time improvements and reduction of defective processes. In the manufacturing world, this translates to reducing mistakes down to 3.4 errors in every million processes.
Its reach and value in manufacturing has been tried, tested and relied upon, and it has spread throughout various business disciplines. However, its use in marketing and PR is recommended far less often. Can Six Sigma be used to improve your marketing and PR strategy?
Six Sigma is all about quantifying inputs and trying to reduce waste. It assumes that there will be problems that arise from all processes, and tries to tackle them at the root level, which eliminates the need for quality control inspections and the cost associated with re-works. Processes can be either enhanced or created using Six Sigma methodology, and in both cases all goals of the processes are first defined, then capabilities are measured and identified, then alternatives and extraneous variables are analyzed.
After this, Six Sigma, with the aim of enhancing existing processes, tries to improve processes and control variances to guarantee performance (DMAIC Six Sigma). This varies with Six Sigma for creating new processes, which instead ends the procedure by designing and then verifying the design (DMADV Six Sigma).
Applications to marketing
The value that Six Sigma can bring to marketing is to enhance any process that requires improvement. Marketing and PR strategy can be created with DMADV Six Sigma, but even creative processes can be enhanced with DMAIC Six Sigma. If your marketing manager suspects that creative projects are too hit-or-miss in terms of meeting the aims of the strategy, they could implement Six Sigma processes to reduce the variation in the results.
In creative instances, guesswork is often relied upon when making small decisions (like design and copywriting), but the processes that oversee these should rely less on guesswork and more on ensuring that the creative product regularly falls between chosen parameters. The best way to do this is by using the statistical analysis that is integral to Six Sigma. However, often the managers need some form of training to spot the opportunity for this type of improvement.
A senior manager that is experienced in Six Sigma can make a lot of leeway, but often managers need at least an awareness of Six Sigma, for example Six Sigma White Belt Training. Other examples of how such analysis can aid processes involved in something as out-of-the-box as marketing are:
- Isolating market requirements and ensuring the marketing/PR department can deliver them
- Creating more efficient marketing and PR management
- Improving how well the strategic planning process is executed
- Creating a richer understanding of each marketing and PR process and increasing their transparency, encouraging every member involved to help drive efficiency improvements
- Enhancing the ability for collaboration between your marketing/PR department and other departments, which can result in more efficient allocation of company finances
There are so many ways that Six Sigma can save your company money by improving processes. If you, as an employee, have a good awareness of the system, you can also single-handedly make recommendations that directly save the company money, which is a surefire way to get noticed.