Have you ever thought about the bottleneck effect in marketing?
If you’re familiar withe the “theory of constraints,” it has to do with the things (big things, small things, any thing) that keep normal people like you and me from getting what we want… achieving our goals… and succeeding in business.
The theory of constraints is a management philosophy introduced by Eliyahu M. Goldratt in “The Goal”, which helps manufacturing organizations eliminate bottlenecks (or “constraints”) so they can increase their throughput (“manufacturing output”) and reach their goals. Essentially, it’s a way to identify bottlenecks in a process, with the objective of removing them.
The Bottleneck Effect In Marketing
Picture a congested city highway with a construction vehicle blocking one of the lanes. You need to get where you’re going. But you can’t because someone’s blocking the lane. In order to improve the flow of traffic, someone’s got to remove the construction vehicle, or widen the lane. Fixing the bottleneck improves the flow of traffic, so you can get where you need to go faster.
While it was intended for manufacturing, we like to apply its principles to conversion marketing, which is a process: (1) attract the right prospects (2) get permission to send them information, and (3) convert them into leads or sales.
Stop and think about it for a minute.
What is the #1 thing holding you back in your marketing?
Is it email subscribers at the top of your funnel? Is it sales-ready leads of prospects actively evaluating your product?
Goldratt uses the common phrase “a chain is no stronger than its weakest link.” This means that processes, organizations, etc., are vulnerable because the “weakest link” in the chain can always damage or break them or at least adversely affect the outcome.
Most business owners, CEOs, and senior business executives get it. They live every day the very bottlenecks that are constraining their rate of growth. The pressure is enormous. Jobs, careers, incomes, and families are at stake every day. Which is why it is critically important to work on unplugging the constraints once you know what they are.
What many of us fail to realize is that in many cases the bottleneck is the only thing you really need to be working on. So, what’s the weakest link in your conversion funnel? Take a look at the following table. Identify your area of weakness as it relates to the three stages for successful marketing.
The question you need to ask is where is your customer in this process? And what can you do to positively influence their behavior?
Here’s the short list of constraints we experience with our clients. There may be others. It’s important to identify them, and work to fix them.
Type of constraints
- Your Marketing System: The way your online advertising, website, landing pages, marketing automation software (or lack thereof) limits the ability of the system to produce more leads and sales.
- Your People: Lack of skilled people or user adoption limits the system. Mental models can result in behaviour that becomes a constraint.
- Your policies: A written or unwritten policy often prevents the system from producing more.
You know from your own experience there is always at least one constraint you and your team are facing.
Share the theory of constraints with your team. Maybe together you’ll identify a bottleneck effect in marketing that you can fix that will lead to a big breakthrough!