Background Info – Why Apply Six Sigma to Marketing?

Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma originally came from the manufacturing sector. The tools and processes used in Lean Six Sigma are designed to reduce waste and defects, and to improve results.

Most use Lean Six Sigma to manufacture products. We use it to manufacture customers with less waste, fewer defects, and better results than any alternative approach we have found.

In our efforts to systematize the development of marketing programs that produce more predictable and consistent outcomes, we realized that the philosophy, methods, and tools of Six Sigma are an ideal fit.

While we can’t even begin to approach the 99+ percent success rate of a finely-tuned Six Sigma production system, we can use Six Sigma to produce better outcomes (more high-quality sales-qualified leads), far greater consistency, and more predictability. The remainder of this document explains how we apply Six Sigma to marketing lead generation and lead nurture, and why such a rigorous approach is necessary in today’s B2B markets.

Are We Credible?

A highly-respected manufacturing company and a top exemplar of the Toyota Production System liked our approach so much that they hired us to build the backbone of their “Standard Work” in lead nurture. This Standard Work is now in the process of being deployed in approximately 200 manufacturing companies worldwide.


Six Sigma Marketing by APG

A Little About Six Sigma

The traditional Six Sigma approach involves five stages (commonly known as “DMAIC“):

  • Define the goals and customer (internal and external) requirements.
  • Measure the process to determine current performance.
  • Analyze and determine the root cause(s) of the defects.
  • Improve the process by eliminating defect root causes.
  • Control future process performance.

DMAIC (Six Sigma) is generally applied to an already existing product or service, which makes perfect sense for manufacturing operations and services over which you have considerable control (such as food preparation).

New product development uses a process commonly referred to as “Design for Six Sigma” or DFSS. The goal of DFSS is to include elements of DMAIC in the design such that the new product or service is optimized and relatively defect-free out of the gate, and the Six Sigma tools (DMAIC) can be easily applied later to eliminate waste and remove defects (in the process or product).

How Do “Waste” and “Defect” Apply to Marketing?

Waste in marketing refers to unnecessary, irrelevant, boring, or unsubstantiated content. We try to remove (and replace) any content – in documents, Emails, landing pages – that is irrelevant or boring to our leads and is too general as to have any real meaning (“We’re the greatest!”).

A Defect in marketing occurs when any content fails to serve its purpose or doesn’t meet our objectives. This might include an Email with low open and/or click rates; a landing page with a low conversion rate; or, a white paper that stops a lead from moving to the next stage of the buying process.




DFSS Process Versus Traditional Six Sigma (DMAIC)

DFSS Versus Traditional Six Sigma

How Our Marketing Program Development Differs from Typical DFSS

Typical DFSS Versus Six Sigma for Marketing

DFSS Summary

When designing a new product or service, you IDENTIFY the goals, objectives, and specifications as defined by the customer (recipient of the product or service).

You then DESIGN the new product or service and use a variety of Six Sigma tools to measure and OPTIMIZE the product production or the service process so that you’re meeting the design goals.

Finally, You VALIDATE that the customer’s needs are met, the process is relatively defect-free, and the product or service is ready for deployment.

Marketing DFSS Summary


  • Define the overall program objectives and metrics;
  • Align sales and marketing to objectives;
  • Conduct qualitative Voice of Customer research on both why they buy and how they buy (their buying process);
  • Define data needs for both Inbound and Outbound lead generation;
  • Define the program charter and project plan.


  • Validate product value proposition and use cases with sales;
  • Design Inbound and Outbound lead generation;
  • Create complete content map with all content required to move leads through the buying process and eliminate sticking points;
  • Design lead nurture flow (moving leads through the buying process);
  • Design all landing page, email, and content layouts;
  • Design data segmentation, marketing automation system requirements, and lead scoring rules.


  • Build (create) all identified content;
  • Build all automated content (Emails, Landing Pages, etc.);
  • Build out marketing automation system and sales force system integration.


  • Thorough system test;
  • Slow deploy of Outbound for testing and optimization;
  • Slow deploy of Inbound for testing and optimization;
  • Marketing and sales alignment.


  • Validate system performs as expected;
  • Remove initial waste and any detected defects;
  • Full deployment and move to weekly optimization (DMAIC).

The DFSS Phases

  1. Identify (VOC & Buying Process Research)
  2. Design
  3. Build
  4. Deploy
  5. Validate

The 5-Stage DFSS for Marketing Process

APG Design for Six Sigma Marketing

Why We Apply Six Sigma to Marketing

The most important aspect of marketing that creates headaches for Six Sigma practitioners is that you have little to no control over the sequencing of events simply because your leads will come at you from almost any direction. Take a look at this buyer’s journey:

The Buyer's Journey

What We Can Control with a Well-Defined System

In the above buyer’s journey, you’ll see that your leads can enter the buying process at almost any stage and proceed through in a non-linear fashion.

When you take the time to conduct qualitative Voice of Customer research (both why and how they buy), you will have an inventory of the content they need to move forward, their top-of-mind questions at each stage, and a good idea about which content they need when.

This information, along with corresponding and confirming data from your sales team, gives you the framework for creating an easily-optimized system. You can actually have some control over the process, and if done well, you can easily remove waste and defects or add new content that keeps your leads moving forward.