A Simplified 5-Step Marketing Strategy Framework
By Bill Skowronski
Friday, April 07, 2023
Marketing strategy can be complex. If you’re overwhelmed or underresourced, a simpler marketing framework may be all you need, at least for now.
There’s no one way to create a marketing strategy. That flexibility can be great, but it can also feel so overwhelming that we never start building one. And by the time we’re done, so much may have changed that it’s no longer relevant. Or, worst of all, we spend months building a world-class marketing strategy and then present it internally–and it just sits in a file folder collecting digital dust.
Here’s the good news. There’s an excellent chance that your company doesn’t need a comprehensive marketing strategy. As often as things change, it’s probably better to iterate throughout the year instead of hoping your once-built behemoth of a plan accounted for all the unknown challenges ahead. Marketing strategies may have common elements, but there’s no checklist. If anything, the most important thing is that your strategy is documented. Not cemented. Documented.
Your Simple Marketing Framework in 5 Steps
We call this a framework because it provides the foundation you can build upon and a central structure you can build around. Let’s make this as simple as possible. At a minimum, your marketing framework should include:
- Target Audience
1. Business Goals
Stephen Covey said it best. Begin with the end in mind. Documented goals will come up again later, so make sure they’re grounded in your business’s long-term objectives and that you have a baseline to measure success against. The easiest way to pressure test your marketing goals is to ask, Does achieving this goal get us closer to where we want to be as a company?
Take note, we’re documenting business goals here—not campaign goals. We’ll get to those later. For now, it’s important to focus on measuring what matters most in the big picture, especially if you’re short on resources.
Start your marketing strategy framework with one to three primary goals.
Once you’ve narrowed your focus by listing a few business goals, do what you can to make them SMART goals. Making goals Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely sets you and your entire organization up for success.
2. Target Audience
Believe it or not, many mid-size companies still market to just one audience—everyone. In those companies, we hear things like: this is how we’ve always done it or we already know what our customers want.
Defining your target audience(s) allows you to deliver more effective messaging (coming up next) where it’s most likely to have an impact (coming up after that).
Once you’ve defined your target audience in a general sense, you can dig deeper into the common motivations and decision-making factors that form buyer personas and help you map out the customer’s journey from awareness to action. Eventually, if you can build a customer advisory board, you’ll ensure a close connection to your target audience as their industry and their buying needs change–which they inevitably will.
RC Tip: Skip the traditional age, gender, education, and hobbies fields when building your first buyer personas. Instead, flag common job titles, talk to customer service about FAQs, ask sales to let you listen in on a few prospect pitches, and note the step-by-step journey and the change of mental state they must go through before becoming a customer.
3. Core Messaging
You can say anything. That’s terrifying and overwhelming for most people because communicating clearly requires direction and intention. That’s why we recommend identifying three to five major themes on which you can anchor your marketing message. Whether marketing through your website, on social media, at networking events, or through advertising campaigns, thinking thematically ensures you consistently deliver a clear message across every channel.
Your core messaging themes should explain the value your company, products or services provide customers. They are relevant and evergreen audience-centric topics that you have the experience and expertise to discuss from several angles. They should include the problems you solve for customers, the aspirational success you make possible, and how you differentiate from competitors.
Note the commonalities: As a growth consultancy, we’ve built our marketing messaging around our desire to help companies grow their business and the three primary ways we empower that growth. Each audience-centric theme focuses on what our clients need and their definition of success–not what the services we offer.
Messaging is such an essential part of your marketing strategy. Once you’re ready to dig even deeper, it’s time to talk about Positioning, Value Proposition, Tagline, Brand Voice, and Brand Tone.
4. Publishing, Distribution, and Promotion Channels
So, you’ve documented your goals, you’ve identified your target audience, and you know exactly what they need to hear. The fourth step in a simplified marketing strategy framework is determining the best ways to deliver your message, so it’s received when it matters most.
Think of publishing, distributing, and promoting your marketing messages across three parallel streams: owned channels, earned channels, and paid channels. A truly integrated marketing strategy leverages all three ways of reaching your target audience. This is a crucial step if you want customers to experience your brand in a consistent and coordinated way, whether they visit your website (owned), read about you in an industry publication (earned), or stumble upon an ad campaign (paid).
Companies waste tons of time and money creating marketing assets that, at best, may be published once, poorly distributed (once), and poorly promoted (once). Yet, at the same time, those companies struggle to maintain a presence on social media, via email, at events, in print, and on their website.
Very few companies challenge themselves by asking, “Which channels should we really be using (and not using)?”
What they should be asking is, “What’s working?” “What’s not?” and “What should we do differently?”
Organization and structure are the keys to managing an effective multi-channel marketing strategy. Suppose you want to integrate advertising, email marketing, direct mail, events, social media, webinars, podcasts, blogs, white papers, infographics, or videos. In that case, you will need a content plan, an editorial calendar, and some technology tools for project management, automation, and data analysis–which brings us to our final step in this simplified marketing strategy framework.
5. Data Analysis
It all comes down to this: If you don’t track the results of your marketing efforts AND expertly turn those numbers into a narrative that informs how you move forward, WHAT IS THE POINT?
In the beginning, you set and documented business goals. Now, it’s time to determine what worked, how well, what didn’t work, whether it’s worth tweaking and retrying, and what lessons we can learn about the relationship between our company and our customers.
At a minimum, every business should have something like Google Analytics/GA4 properly installed on their website. In addition, nearly every digital marketing platform or tool can monitor analytics, view a dashboard, and often generate reports.
No excuses. If you want a simple marketing strategy framework, you need to be able to measure your results.
Much like we said in Step 3 on Messaging, the sheer breadth and depth of available data can be overwhelming. Data analytics can be so intimidating that most companies need help to answer very several basic questions about the efficacy of their marketing efforts. And, if you can’t understand something, how can you improve it?
Determining what should be measured, how to accurately measure what really matters, and how to turn data into informed decision-making may be the most impactful leap a company can make in modern marketing maturity.
Simplifying Your Marketing Framework
At the end of the day, you can have a marketing strategy built upon documented business goals, a deep understanding of your target audience, and differentiated messaging integrated across multiple channels and accountable to expert analysis.
You can have it all in five simple steps. But, you have to get started.
If your company’s sales and marketing are lagging behind and you don’t have the internal resources you need to go to market strategically, give us a call. We’ll be happy to help.
Here’s a recap of the simplified marketing strategy framework.