Commentary

Marketing Just-in-Time

Back in the 1950s, there was a Broadway show, “The Bells Are Ringing,” with a great score that included a hit song, “Just In Time,” which addressed how timing was everything when it came to finding true love.

Today, Just-In-Time (JIT) rings just a true, as it has become a key factor in yet another category, one that all of us in marketing can ill afford to ignore.

Actually, that phrase came to life again in the business world, as a way to describe a production strategy that aims to improve a company’s ROI by reducing in-process and associated carrying costs.  It’s based on the principle that you don’t make something until it is demanded by customers, so products are made one at a time and not in batches. As such, efficiency (and effectiveness) increases capabilities and capacities without the need for more workers, resulting in minimal buildup of inventories (employees, supplies, overhead, etc.) forecasting later production to meet demand. By doing so, there is little if any time lag, so forecasts and delivery are one and the same, as demand and delivery are simultaneous.

To some degree, the burgeoning 3D printing industry reflects that approach, as it has enormous potential to bring demand and delivery closer together than ever before.

That said, those same practices and principles hold true in marketing, where the growing trend is for utilizing a JIT information model. Whereas in the past you might see an increase in paid advertising to stimulate later demand, we are now moving to a model where information, product development, delivery and purchase are made in real-time or near real-time.

Also, with more and more messages being delivered via less expensive, diverse social media, the old measure of advertising spending as a means of measuring economic health no longer exists, as traditional media represent less and less of actual media impressions. Indeed, the need for new measures that accurately count media impressions, rather than money spent on advertising, have become critically important, and it’s gratifying that the Advertising Research Foundation and others in the field are now committed to that challenge.

Those organizations who are more responsive to customers are reaping the financial benefits, with Apple as a prime example by coming to market with products that tap into what their customers really want.

Basically, it all comes down to the bottom line, and those companies who are able to employ JIT for both their manufacturing and marketing policies will surely win the race.

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