Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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A New Marketing Framework

***Please note: I’ve released a new version of this framework: A Startup Marketing Framework V2***

Most product managers and product marketers I know, including myself have studied the Pragmatic Marketing Framework.  I first did over 10 years ago and it continues to be a very useful tool for explaining what product management is all about.  As I’ve been working with companies on product marketing plans however, I’ve wondered what something similar to the Pragmatic Framework would look like from a purely marketing point of view.  I took what I’ve done with companies and what I’ve seen smart product marketers around me doing and constructed a marketing framework that looks like the diagram below.  Also, you lean startup types should note that this is applicable for companies that are beyond product/market fit.  Feedback is appreciated!

Marketing Framework

Segments – Based on your interaction with early customers, these are the segments that have the most affinity for your offering and are the target of your marketing efforts.  These need to be well defined and very specific and includes personas.

Market Needs – From your experience with early customers you will be able to articulate the unmet needs in the market related to your segments (and beyond).

Key Points of Value – These are the most critical key differentiated points of value that your product offers.  This is not a long list of features but rather small number of key attributes that customers in your segment love about your product.

Competitive Alternatives – These are the alternatives ways that customers can attempt to service their needs.  These may be competitive offerings, features or pieces of solutions in other spaces or “do nothing”.

Business Model – This describes how the company makes money from the offering.

Sales Strategy – How the company will sell the product including the channel strategy (if applicable).

Sales Process – The sales process is the detailed step by step process that a prospect goes through on the way to becoming a customer.

Market Strategy – The market strategy is a higher level view of how the company plans to scale in the market from early adopters to a broad market, including the segments to be targeted and in what order. (in Crossing the Chasm, this would be the description of your lead pin and the adjacent pins)

Lead Generation – That plan including tasks and budget for lead generation tactics.

Retention – The plan and budget for tactics aimed solely at retaining existing customers (really important for SaaS offerings).

Visibility – This is the bucket for all tactics related to ensuring that non-users of the product can observe that others are using it.  This includes product features that encourage people invite their friends or display to a person’s network some facet of using the product, referral incentives, website badges, shareable content, reviews and awards, customer testimonials and success marketing, etc. (I talk about this in Startup Marketing 101)

Messaging – This includes the company messaging, product value proposition, company and offering stories, responses to common questions, objection handling and reassurances for perceived risks.

Content Strategy – The content strategy will lay out what content will get created and for which purposes.  This will include blogs, video, podcasts, whitepapers and ebooks, research and data analysis, press releases, shared presentations, and anything else that is informative and helpful to prospects and customers.

Sales Tools – Includes presentations, demos, data sheets, brochures, ROI calculators and other tools that are used to help customers make a buying decision.

Media Outreach – Actions, programs and tactics related to working with reporters, writers and bloggers.

Funnel Optimization – The ongoing process of tracking and analyzing each stage of the sales funnel with the goal of making incremental improvements.

ROI Tracking – For each item of marketing spend, tracking the return on that investment with the goal of doing more of what works and less of what doesn’t.

Customer Learning – The ongoing process of meeting with customers and testing the assumptions you have about their needs, environment, information sources and influencers, competitive alternatives, market trends, etc., capturing that information and feeding it back to the rest of the organization.

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  1. April – I like the Marketing orientation of the model and as previously stated would like to see this in a more fluid and non-silo oriented visual. I’ve read the other comments and agree with their points. One area I believe should be considered is adding the aspects of Personas to the model.

    Also, under Lead Generation, perhaps there’s a broader Lead Management as this encompasses the cycle of generating, managing and measuring.

    • Hey Jim,
      Thanks for the comment. In my definition I’ve got everything related to defining a segment including personas, use case scenarios, market analysis, etc. under Segments.
      My thinking Lead generation was that that bucket was for managing the full set of tactics you have for generating leads. Funnel Optimization is the process of analyzing and improving each stage of your pipeline, where ROI is the process you go through to figure out the return on your marketing investment. I felt that the measuring part was important enough to warrant its own box.

  2. Thanks for a nice clean framework to view Marketing. Diagrams like this can help clarify a number of issues. Just a couple additional thoughts –

    Have you considered any overlay of your framework with other functions, such as how marketing and product mgmt overlap in the definition of the product?

    Also, did you consider including social media as a separate function instead of embedding it into the content strategy and media outreach?

    • Thanks for the comment.
      I think it would make sense to overlay this with product management, I just haven’t done it. That might be a job for the Pragmatic Marketing guys who know way more about product management than I do 🙂
      With respect to Social Media – it touches a lot of things in the framework including content strategy, media outreach, visibility, messaging, and will also be a factor in the marketing and sales strategy for some companies. Because it crosses so many things I felt it didn’t make sense to call it out as a separate function.

  3. April – very nice and clean. Wondering though about “marketing” focus of the framework. I interpret that as indicating the functions over which that the Marketing org has primary control. In that case, I would consider Business Strategy, Sales Strategy, and Sales Process to be out of bounds for the pure marketing function. I would then put Market Strategy under the Market Knowledge header (well aligned with Segments) and delete the Business Strategy header altogether.

    Thanks, TK

    • Hi Todd,
      Thanks for the comment.
      It’s true that marketing doesn’t have complete ownership over each of these boxes – business strategy (which is my term for “how does the product make money”, Sales Process and Sales Strategy are all examples of things that depending on how big the company is or how it is organized, marketing may not “own.” However under business strategy would be included things like pricing (including volume discount and channel pricing), estimates on customer acquisition costs and customer lifetime value, and the business strategy (i.e. licenses are free but we charge for services, or we have a free version but charge for a “pro” version, etc.), all of which will have heavy marketing input and will have a big impact on your marketing plan.
      The same goes for Sales Strategy. Marketing may not own making the decision about whether you will sell direct, through channel partners, via OEM, or whether you have a low touch vs. high touch sales model however, marketing will have input into that and the strategy itself is critical to your marketing plan.
      Does that make sense?

  4. Hi April,
    As a former product marketing manager who referred frequently to the Pragmatic Marketing framework, I love that you’ve created one for marketers! Also love that your framework touches upon personas and includes a box for “content strategy.”

    I echo Jim Holland’s suggestion about expanding “lead generation” — though I understand what you’re saying about addressing the full cycle in other areas, I think there’s value in reminding marketers that they need to do more than generate leads – they also need to nurture and manage them.

    Somewhere in there, it would be helpful to hit upon the need for sales and marketing to come up with common definitions around prospects, leads, opportunities, scoring leads, etc. That would fall well under a “lead management” category.


    • RG,

      Great post. A couple suggestions, given the caveat that we’re talking about startups here:

      1) I’d be inclined to ditch “business model” moniker and replace with a couple/few other things; Customer Value Proposition (perhaps this is the same as Key Value Points – or perhaps not?), Profit Formula and maybe even the newly minted “Gratification Engine” idea
      2) On the metrics/analysis side you might consider adding Customer Acquisition Cost & Customer Lifetime Value for startups as this is such a critical formula for cash CLV>CAC
      3) Lastly, for startups this whole model/graphic might want to be displayed as moving rather than static…god knows these things change on a sometimes daily basis.;)

      Food for thought anyway.

      • Hey Mike,
        Thanks for the comment. I agree that “business model” is probably not the right term. The idea I’m trying to capture is “How do we make money?”, so it’s not Customer Value Proposition. I like Gratification Engine but again, I think that’s more what I mean by Key Points of Value.
        You are right on the Lifetime value. I’m capturing acquisition costs in ROI tracking but I probably need to explicitly call out some of the other metrics.
        On the last point – I think there’s a need to plot stuff out across a timeline – there are different things you do at different stages like I explained in Startup Marketing 101. I’m not sure that THAT much really changes that quickly though. The biggest changes I’ve seen have been around our thinking with respect to Visibility and Content strategy. Most of the metrics are the same things I tracked back when I worked at Janna. There is more of a shift to lifetime value but we looked at that as well years ago when I was at IBM.
        Most of the frameworks I’ve seen have been more product-centric than marketing centric, so key things like Messaging, funnel optimization, customer learning, tended not to show up or were buried under multiple buckets.

        • Fair enough. I guess the implication here is that this framework can be put into place once a viable product/market fit has been established…and true marketing resources are brought in.

          Otherwise, IMHO a bunch of the stuff on the front two columns are completely dynamic and change with each customer engagement during the search for the repeatable/scalable business model.

          • Hey Mike – that’s EXACTLY it. This is not a framework for the stuff you are doing pre-product/market fit. This is a description of the stuff that happens once you have found product/market fit.

          • Cool. So, I’m not nuts; just slow.

            I do think the inclusion of the Gratification Engine idea – as it is now being called by Sean Ellis et al – is a useful addition somewhere…

  5. I agree on having a lead nurturing call out. Marketing needs to plan for/ create awareness campaigns and material specifically to keep leads engaged. This is particularly important for products with LONG sales cycles.

    Also, for your business strategy title — some ideas:
    Business Value ( Chain )
    Portfolio Strategy
    Revenue Strategy

    • Thanks Amy,
      Totally agree on Lead Nuturning. I would put that all under Lead Generation but the name needs to change I think.
      I like Revenue Strategy a lot – Thanks!

  6. Nice blending of the Pragmatic framework and marketing. Also puts it in a light that helps execs understand that black magic we do. The Pragmatic framework is too “technical” for C-levels to give more than a cursory glance. This gives us and them something to talk about. We can still use the templates and structure from the Pragmatic framework underneath this one to get things done but this is a great communication tool.

    • Hey Tim,
      Thanks for the comment. Like you said, I don’t see this one as something that would replace the Pragmatic Framework, they both serve different purposes. This one is completely marketing-centric. My plan is to use it as a tool when I talk to companies about the various facets of marketing that have to get done. The Pragmatic Framework covers much of the same ground but this one allows me to have a very marketing oriented conversation.

  7. Hi April,

    Love the framework. One of the things that bugs me with the original Pragmatic Marketing Framework is that it is almost to broad in scope, so narrowing it down to focus on marketing is brilliant.

    Also, the original layering from strategic to tactical was nice but it didn’t really reflect process or sequence of steps (which is what I am looking for b/c such a framework would really provide everybody with a generic roadmap and actionable guidance).

    After looking at your framework more closely I have two thoughts (rather questions without an immediate answer – so let me think about this some more):

    (1) Wouldn’t it be cool to somehow map your framework against the lifecycle of a customer? Maybe map three major phases across another axis/dimension:
    a) Audience Marketing (influencing unknown people in your target segment before they become leads),
    b) Lead Marketing (nurturing known contacts and moving them through your pipeline to close), and
    c) Customer Marketing (nurturing existing customers to drive retention, cross and upsell opportunities).

    By the way, I find that today too many marketers focus on b) and managing the funnel, while under-investing in a) and thereby reducing their lead gen performance, and neglecting c) and leaving their most profitable business on the table.

    By adding the lifecycle dimension, you could make the framework even more actionable by showing applicable marketing processes, assets and tools in the context of the customer cycle (which you can break down into smaller stages to reflect the buying process and applicable tools/processes mapped against it, etc). So “content” becomes multiple content categories that are applicable at different stages of the customer life cycle from educational content to content that helps make a decision to content that provides validation points, you get the idea.

    Makes things more complicated though …

    2) How about building “relationships” into the framework, and the ways they can be actively managed? This can be relationships with prospects, customers, partners, influencers, etc. Maybe this would also be part of the enhanced framework as all these relationships play a role at different stages in the customer’s lifecycle.

    What do you think?


    • Hi Holger,
      Thanks so much for the comment!
      I love the idea of mapping it to the lifecycle of a customer. I was actually thinking that the next thing I would do is try to map it to the lifecycle of a typical startup (since I mainly work with startups). One of the main questions I get is what things should companies be worried at each stage (I talked a bit about stages of a startup in my Startup Marketing 101 post). Your comment reflect what Stephanie and Mike were saying as well so I’m thinking about that. I do have a split between lead generation and retention but that doesn’t account for upselling and cross selling. Awareness I’m thinking is also something that could be explained better (that relates to your “Audience Marketing”.
      I agree that there are a lot of relationship oriented things happening across this framework. It’s interesting because the companies I deal with that are selling directly to consumers don’t worry as much about that side of things as they should IMO.
      Thanks so much for the feedback, you’ve giving me a lot to think about.

  8. I love this. I’ve been looking for something that is more customer-focused and less product-focused than the other frameworks I’ve seen out there.
    I’d love to see how you would put each of these across the different stages of a company.

      • Great question,
        Unlike for example, the Pragmatic Marketing framework, which is a much broader and covers more marketing AND product management, I was trying to create something simple that looked just at the marketing pieces. I deliberately left out things like product roadmap and requirements definition because I see those as more strictly the domain of product management. That doesn’t mean that marketing doesn’t have input into that, they should and generally do. In the box Customer Learning is where marketing is out talking to customers and learning about how the market is changing and evolving. That information flows back to Segments, Key Points of Value, Market Needs and ultimately changes product requirements even though it isn’t explicitly called out here.
        I’m open to suggestions though – should it be there?

      • This is really interesting. Is there any reason this couldn’t apply to larger companies as well? How would it change?

        • Hi Stuart,
          Thanks for the comment. I think it does apply to larger companies as well as startups. In this blog I am mainly talking about marketing for startups but I’ve spent about half of my career at larger companies (the startup I work at have all been acquired by very large companies) and I think this applies. Is there anything you think is missing?

          • I don’t see anything obvious missing unless there are some additional things you need to think about when you have families of products rather than a single offering.

          • Hi Stuart,
            I agree. I haven’t really thought about what might need to get added if you were talking about a larger organization with a bigger structure. Let me do some thinking about that. I will likely post an update to this framework in the next week or so. Stay tuned.

  9. Oh sweet peanut butter where has this been all my life! I will be using this in a meeting next week.
    Thank-you for sharing this!!

  10. What are some good marketing plan templates post product/market fit?…

    Here’s a useful one I found http://www.rocketwatcher.com/blog/2010/05/a-new-marketing-framework.html…

  11. Hi April,

    Thanks for your post. I found this very helpful in structuring my thinking. I have some additional thoughts.

    I see the frameworks that you mentioned more of a mid-high level strategic document. Suppose I’ve gone through all the boxes and answered them, then what? What is the next step that I ought to do assuming all the boxes have been satisfactorily answered.

    I feel there ought to be an accompanying actionable go-to-market check list that then turns the thinking that you have done in conceiving the framework into concrete to-do steps (or tactics as you might call them).

    Would be great to hear your thoughts on this.


    • Hi Nai,
      Thanks for the comment!
      I totally agree that there are a specific set of actions that go around each of these boxes. The tricky part though is that depending on your stage of growth for both the company and the product and your business model, the check list will look very different. For example, the checklist of things you would do for a product that is in an emerging market, with a low-touch online sales model would look really different from what you would do for a more mature product with a direct sales model. That said, I should maybe take a crack at doing one for a particular type of product just for fun….
      The purpose of the framework is to give you a set of things to think about so you can make sure you have the right bases covered.
      Hope that helps,

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