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.

A.B.C. Always Be Creating

How we choose to spend our free time can dramatically influence us, our surroundings, and our future.

Some of our free time can be categorized as either creating or consuming. When you read a blog post, you’re consuming. When you read a book, you are consuming. Scrolling through a friend’s feed, that’s consumption. Follow the news? Consumption again!

Unless the consumption activity is rejuvenating, your time is probably better spent creating.

Creating is an active process. It requires presence of mind. Working through a series of decisions in order to reach a creative goal benefits you in many ways. Creating…

  • builds stamina to make thoughtful decisions
  • sets a goal to reach and look forward to
  • presents a challenge to meet
  • provides freedom to express oneself
  • cements a memory to grow from and comeback to
  • is an elective and yet excellent activity for personal growth and learning
  • is personally satisfying
  • can be a platform to share and inspire

Even if you don’t obtain most of these benefits, your time was wisely spent. Growth is a process of trying and learning. Lessons learned through personal action will stick with you and benefit you for a long period of time.

There are infinite ways to create. With time you can find a medium you enjoy creating through.

Next time you catch yourself consuming, consider creating something instead.

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?

First make the change easy, then make the easy change

This quote is from Kent Beck, a software developer and the creator of the extreme programming methodology.

Refactoring code can be a challenge. Software projects tend to grow with time. If left unchecked they can become unruly and hard to reason about. Spaghetti code is a term that’s never too far from such a mess.

In a way, this quote is saying “first do what you should have always been doing; being organized” and “then do what you came here to do in the first place (add a feature, fix a bug).”

Although the context here is software development, the spirit of the quote can be applied elsewhere. When I find myself stuck between differing choices I have to make, I’ll refer to this quote. I’ll ask myself “why is the decision difficult to make?” Inevitably it is because my thoughts are not organized and I am not adequately informed to feel comfortable with any decision.

I then take the time to do the work I should have done. After that, the decision tends to be much easier.

Work smarter and work harder

The phrase “work smarter, not harder” gets tossed around all the time. Unfortunately, the phrase suggests that working smart and working hard are mutually exclusive. One cannot do both. This interpretation is incorrect. But it doesn’t stop there. The phrase also gives weight to the notion that one should only work smart, and reduces the value of working hard.

There is much to gain through working hard and working smart. When working hard, in absence of working smart, one can build up mental and physical stamina to endure boring or laborious work. Through working smart, not hard, one can learn how to optimize work and how to ensure that the important work is managed.

Working hard and working smart, jointly, will almost certainly yield better results than either option independently.

Want to get more done? Try work working harder and smarter.