Mass production and standardization, as popularized by Henry Ford, revolutionized the American auto industry and turned it into the powerhouse that it is today. It leveraged fast production cycles that could keep up with demand while still delivering high-quality product. It changed the face of American commerce.
While marketing doesn’t deal with machine parts, engine blocks, and rubber tires (usually), we can still leverage the principles that made Ford so successful and use them to enable sales teams to greater success.
Content for Every Stage of the Journey
Assembly lines are one of the key concepts of mass production, with each station properly equipped and supplied to perform its task before moving the product down the line.
Buyers’ journeys aren’t as fixed or as impersonal as a production line (we’re dealing with people, not products, of course), but sales can still benefit from having stage-appropriate content. With it, the rep can provide value at any given point in the funnel. For example, a rep can share an infographic or ebook to prospects in the awareness stage, while giving those in the consideration stage a whitepaper, and moving prospects to the purchase stage with a case study.
This approach gives the salesperson the right info at the right time and helps keep the prospect moving in the right direction.
If a workman had to measure and alter a part every time a product came through, production would slow to a crawl. Instead, they standardize the parts so that they can be attached to the final product with as little work as possible.
Sales collateral should work the same way. Pre-approved email templates drastically reduce a sales rep’s work time. Personalized brochures, where all you change are customer details, also balance flexibility and speed. Reps may not even need to fill in a prospect’s personal details because a marketing asset management tool can just pull in information from the CRM.
Inventory organization and classification
One of the largest problems when dealing with both machine parts and marketing collateral is keeping track of where everything is. There are dozens of types of screws, nuts, bolts, and tools in a factory, and just as many brochures, promo emails, images, and blogs in a marketing team’s server.
That’s why successful teams tag, label, and compartmentalize their assets. The benefits of a well-organized library mean faster workflows, simpler tracking and a much more efficient workforce—both in marketing and in sales.
Keep in mind, however, that “standardization” does not mean “fixed.” A successful organization must be willing and able to accommodate necessary changes if the business is to keep up with the market. The strength of an assembly line setup is that it’s very easy to swap out one or several components in order to adjust to a product.
In marketing terms, a marketing team must constantly take feedback from sales on which collateral works best for each stage, adjust or correct the assets that don’t work, and ensure that everything they produce benefits the customer.
If it worked for Henry Ford, it can work for you.