Easy marketing strategy framework: 6 steps and works like a charm

Simplified 6-step marketing strategy framework illustration

For many years, whenever I thought of creating a marketing strategy… things got ugly. Especially, because as a recovering perfectionist, there’s nothing that paralyzed me more than having endless possibilities. I’d be working on a strategy forever without ever actually implementing it. Thankfully, after years dealing with analysis paralysis, I discovered a marketing strategy framework that freed me.

The funny thing is that there was nothing extraordinary about it. This framework is simple. Easy to develop, easy to implement; easy to iterate on it. In this post, I’ll share this six-step marketing framework in detail, but first…

What’s a marketing strategy?

A marketing strategy is a document that outlines a path to achieve a particular goal through marketing. You can think about it as your “game plan.” Some marketing strategies are over a hundred pages long. But, unless you’re trying to get a multimillion-dollar company to approve your proposal, I’d say that’s an overkill. By knowing what, when, why, and how you want to achieve something, you’ll be on the right path. And if you also know who you need to target and how to measure success, who’s there to stop you?

Simplified 6-step marketing strategy framework illustration

All strategies require research

One defining factor and pre-requirement for any marketing strategy is research. However, I have good news. Unless you’re totally new to an industry or know nothing about marketing, you probably will have some previously acquired knowledge that’ll speed up the research phase.

These are the four research topics you need to know beforehand.

  1. About the brand. What are the mission, the vision, the values, and the history of the company or personality behind this brand? You don’t need to write an entire dissertation about the brand — unless you have the time or want to. Knowing off the top of your head what the brand is about is enough to get started.
  2. SWOT. Ideally, you would go do a full audit of the brand before creating a strategy. But if you aren’t sure how to do that, at least try to identify a few strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of the brand you’ll create the strategy for. Again, we don’t have to overcomplicate this. To get started, we just need to be aware of the possibilities and limitations we have.
  3. Market research. Before doing any type of marketing activity, you should first know your market. That’s unavoidable. I know a market research — when done well — is huge and time-consuming, but not to worry. This is one of those tasks that never ends, and just contextualizing ourselves on our target market’s behaviors, needs, and desires is more than enough to get started.
  4. Competitive analysis. We’ll also need to identify our competitors. Which other brands offer similar products or services for our same target audience? Once you know who your direct competitors are, you’ll have an easier time finding ways to stand out. We all have competitors and, if you’re clear about the previous research topics, listing three to five competitors shouldn’t be hard.

Research tools for when you are starting from scratch

If you’re starting totally fresh, don’t worry. Instead of attempting to figure out all the answers right now, take a breath, keep an open mind, and figure it out as you go. Marketing research needs to be validated, and that’s not something you can do without getting started.

There are great resources that can at least point you in the right direction. As long as you keep the right marketing mindset and stay focused, these tools will serve you well when prepping for your strategy:

  • Communities on Facebook groups, Reddit, and Quora to learn what your audience is talking about.
  • SEO tools like Google Keyword Planner and Answer the Public to discover what they are searching for.
  • Market activity trackers as Google Trends or Exploding Topics to understand its relevance over time.

Simplified 6-step marketing strategy framework

Idea (light bulb) icon

I’ll use a fictional manufacturing company in the fashion industry to illustrate this framework. If you’re curious…

My fictional company offers a hybrid model to source their brake and mortar or ecommerce stores. Their clients can: 1) order wholesale or 2) print-on-demand (drop-shipping style).

Step #1: Set a clear goal

The best way to approach your marketing strategy is to focus on one goal — or a set of closely related ones. We don’t need to get everything done at once. Some common goals are to increase website traffic, generate qualified leads, or sale more of a particular product or service.

If you want many things and aren’t sure what to focus on first, prioritize based on impact. Which specific goal could potentially impact multiple areas for your brand?

Illustration of the marketing strategy framework: Step one, set a realistic goal.

For my fictional brand, the goal is to “Increase web traffic by 15% in two months through improved keyword rankings and cross promotion.” I chose that goal because their two main priorities are to…

  1. Get more wholesale orders.
  2. Improve brand recognition.

Both of those needs can be beneficially impacted by having more potential customers coming to the brand’s website.

You can use any goal setting framework you find effective, my two all-time favorites are:

  • The SMART goal framework (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-bound), for which you can use this goal generator.
  • The OKR framework (that defines objectives and key results), which you can generate using this objective generator.

Step #2: Target your ideal customer

If you have a customer avatar, kudos! You can just use that and move to the next step. If you don’t, choose the segment you want to target with this marketing strategy and write a few bullet points describing it. Outline their general demographic and psychographic details, just like if you were describing a person. The more specific, the better.

Illustration of the marketing strategy framework: Step two, target your ideal customer.

To get the demographics right, you can look at your website or your social media insights. For instance, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn have great demographic breakdowns. Just be sure to get data from an account where the brand is doing well!

For the psychographics, your market research will come in handy. If you aren’t sure or have various segments, I’d recommend you focus on the type of person that’s more likely to become a happy client. Who could benefit the most from your products or services? Who could relate with your unique brand story? Briefly describe them.

Step #3: Define a timeline

Goals need to be broken down into more manageable pieces that can be completed across a set timeframe. So, think about your goal and identify a few milestones you need to achieve before that goal is completed.

As my fictional brand’s goal is to increase website traffic, these are my example milestones:

Illustration of the marketing strategy framework: Step three (first part), identify milestones.
  1. Keyword research and SEO completed.
  2. Website content calendar strategized.
  3. Content created and successfully published.
  4. Cross-platform content promotion executed.
  5. Effective PPC advertising implemented.

And, this is what a realistic timeline for achieving those milestones would look like:

Illustration of the marketing strategy framework: Step three (first part), identify milestones.
  1. Keyword research and SEO completed by the end of week two.
  2. Website content calendar by the end of week three.
  3. Content created and successfully published from week four through five.
  4. Cross-platform content promotion executed by the end of week six.
  5. Effective PPC advertising implemented by the end of week seven.
Idea (light bulb) icon

Note that my milestones timeline example starts in week two and ends in week seven, but the goal is set in two months.

I’m considering the time it’ll take to gather the resources and get things going (week one) and the review of the strategy and results (week eight).

Having a timeline helps us be realistic about our strategy execution. It also gives us a glimpse of the resources we’ll need to allocate. As a general rule, the shorter your timeframe, the more people and money it’ll require.

Let’s say I plan to execute the previous strategy on my own, as a one-woman show… Then, I’d probably have to turn those weeks into months (depending on how many content deliverables and ads I plan to create). Being overly optimistic about your timeline could set you up for failure.

Step #4: Allocate a budget

Now it’s the time for budgeting. At this step, we need to identify the costs associated with each milestone. How much can you spend? At this point, we don’t know how exactly that budget will used. But it’d be useful to break down your budget as much as you can… maybe into categories.

Illustration of the marketing strategy framework: Step four, allocate a budget.

In the example I’ve been using, one of the milestones is running a PPC ad campaign, and just that implicates multiple costs:

  1. The ad creation itself (copywriting, photography, design, and videography).
  2. The ad management fees.
  3. The ad placement costs.

Those are details we need to be aware of, but no stress too much about. We’ll tackle all the specifications in next steps.

Step #5: Break down the strategy

Now that we know what we want to achieve and how much we can spend on it, we can start outlining the strategy. To make it even simpler, ask yourself:

  1. Break down your general goal into specific sub-strategies.
  2. For each sub-strategy, choose a tactic (actionable plan to make it happen).
  3. For each tactic, select only a few accurate KPIs (key performance indicators).
Illustration of the marketing strategy framework: Step five, break down the strategy.

As my fictional brand’s goal is to increase web traffic, one of the sub-strategies is to improve the website engagement. The tactic I chose was to get visitors to view more pages by interlinking them, and the KPI I need to monitor is how many pages the visitor views per session.

When outlining your strategy, consider all the possibilities, but focus on what you believe can work within the budget you have. And remember, the fewer KPIs you have to monitor, the better.

Step #6: Craft a roadmap

And we get to the final step in this framework: the roadmap. In this stage, we need to know what must be done to turn your strategy into a plan we can execute, track, and adapt if needed.

Illustration of the marketing strategy framework: Step six, craft a roadmap.

I like to think of my roadmap as a list of individual projects that need to get delegated. Even if I’m the one doing it. Because it helps lay out all the requirements more clearly. Once you know what needs to be done, the strategy is officially done, and you can move on to the planning phase.

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