Choosing a marketing strategy

Given infinite marketing possibilities, how does one choose and prioritize channels and tactics?

Depending on your definition of “channel”, it is said that there are 19 marketing channels (see: Traction). Each of these channels allow for countless tactics.

Let’s look at the “Content Marketing” channel. Content Marketing is commonly a strategy where an article or blog post is created to attract a certain type of user to achieve a business objective. Once the article/post is created, it is distributed, commonly through social platforms. However, this is only one small strategy.

Another strategy could be to create videos or books, and share those through social platforms.

Yet another option is to share content via direct email, or sending traffic to it using ads.

Content marketing does not stop at the tactic. Marketing channels overlap as well. When creating a blog post to share on social media, search engine crawlers will discover it as well. This means that SEO, another marketing channel, can overlap with Content Marketing. The article you wrote can also be used for Search Engine Marketing (SEM), or in Email Marketing, or perhaps in Social/Display ads. Tactics to repurpose marketing collateral are limitless.

All these scenarios bring us back to the question, how does one choose and prioritize channels and tactics?

I think there are 3 considerations that you can use to decide. These are:

  • Goals of the marketing initiative
  • Resources available to you
  • Your desire for a specific channel + tactic

Firstly, I believe there is only 1 best channel and tactic to do at any given moment. Everything else is less optimal (but not bad). However, depending on the 3 considerations above, the 1 channel and tactic may not be an option for you.

The best channel + tactic combination will certainly address your business goal, that’s the point, however you may not have the resources to pursue it, or the desire.

Let’s say that currently the best strategy is through Ads on search engines but will cost $100,000/day. Well, that’s not in my budget, so that option may not be available to me. A less compelling argument, yet valid nonetheless, is that you dislike running Ads in search engines. Working in this channel may not be as effective because you’re not as excited about it and therefore may not operate at a high level. Your ROI may be higher employing a different tactic or working within a different channel.

Given a marketing goal, you should consider which channel will “probably” be most effective. Then determine if you have the resources and desire to see your strategy though. If not, pick another channel and determine if it makes sense. Repeat until you find the right fit.

North star metric

The north star metric (NSM) is a single metric an organization observes to track the value attained by its customers. A good north star metric is a leading indicator.

It is sometimes easy to say one’s north star metric is monthly recurring revenue (MRR) but doing so will not yield actionable information. MRR does not indicate the value attained by your customers. MRR is also a lagging indicator since we can only identify it at the end of the month.

Having a north star metric helps align everyone on the team, and possibly the organization, towards a common goal. It is not uncommon for teams within an organization to find it difficult to influence the organization’s NSM. In that scenario the team can have its own NSM which will support the organization’s NSM.

Examples of north star metrics:

  • AirBnB - Number of nights booked
  • Facebook - Daily active users (DAU)
  • Uber/Lyft - Weekly rides

Can you identify your company’s north star metric?