New book offers three-part Six Sigma guide for marketing

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BtoB recently spoke with C.M. "Skip" Creveling and Lynne Hambleton, who along with Burke McCarthy are the authors of the new book "Six Sigma for Marketing Processes: An Overview for Marketing Executives, Leaders and Managers" (Prentice Hall Professional).

BtoB: What's the Readers Digest description of Six Sigma?

Creveling: Six Sigma is all about managing variation-a sale, a product, a process. And then measuring a process where variation occurs, starting off with sound, trustworthy data. Then we can move on to analyzing the data for root causes for the variation, and then we can have a strategy for improving the process. Ultimately [it involves] coming up with a control plan to control the process in future applications so the effects of variation can be recognized and dealt with on a proactive basis.

BtoB: A lot has been written about Six Sigma. What does your book add to the discussion?

Hambleton: We've divided the marketing processes into three areas. The first is one that's very strategically focused and looks at how to manage your portfolio of offerings, whether they be tangible products or services. The second area looks at how to do a development project for your offering. And the third area is operationally focused: How do you actually manage that offering, once it's launched in the marketplace.

BtoB: How pervasive is Six Sigma in marketing departments?

Creveling: On the marketing side, Six Sigma is in its infancy. [If you] look inside modern marketing deparments, [you] find very little use of the discipline. We began to work with people in marketing departments because they were looking for better data to make better decisions as they faced risk in their work. So the future is very bright and actually very large for taking Six Sigma in marketing processes.

BtoB: What do you say to the complaint that applying this rigor to creative campaigns and outbound messaging campaigns just doesn't make a lot of sense because they're all so different from one another?

Hambleton: The beauty of Six Sigma is that it empowers creativity and also helps bolster that creative idea with a methodology.

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