Marketing today is more complex than ever with multiple business objectives, a multitude of channels available, and consumer attitudes and preferences frequently changing.

You really can’t do it all unless you have an endless budget, and few companies and marketers are that lucky. While you may be tempted to chase after each new shiny marketing channel, STOP! Pause before you act. You need to be discerning about what you implement, questioning the value of where you spend each dollar. And not all companies and brands are created equal. You need to customize your marketing approach, not assume all channels need to be used.

Here is a framework with 5 factors to consider when defining your marketing strategy and channels:

  1. Company stage. If you are a new vs. established brand, you need to be careful about the weight of your investment against brand awareness building activity vs. bottom of the funnel promotional activity. You may think that you need to focus only on digital marketing that is performance-driven, but if you don’t weight your spending to building awareness and getting into the consideration set, you may do your brand a disservice. For example, you might drive sales in the short-term, but you may not build your brand equity and you may lose long-term sales impact, as well. Product alone is not king, as many technology companies are now learning as competition increases in their respective categories. Or consider Old Navy, a more established brand, that experienced lost sales because they realized they relied too much on promotional lower funnel marketing vs. brand building in late 2019. Adidas had a similar experience—finding that brand marketing drove 65 percent of its sales across most channels and yet only 23 percent of its spending was weighted against upper funnel brand marketing. Or, consider the fact that historically CPG companies have found that advertising typically delivers 2x or more the short-term impact when factoring in long-term effects, increasing overall ROAS.

  2. Business model. Certainly your business model will impact your go-to-market activity. If your business is eCommerce driven, you’ll likely be weighted more towards digital tactics and be more concerned with acquisition and retention, especially in the short-term. Email marketing will likely be a critical channel for retention and still delivers some of the highest ROI’s. Yet, don’t rule out more mass awareness channels at the appropriate stage in your business. As many DTC companies have demonstrated, to build broad Mass awareness, a company typically has to move away from only online. Consider Casper, Stitch Fix, and Parachute.

    For CPG brands, 70 percent of goods are still purchased in-store. So, while digital can be a part of your mix, be careful about how far you swing in that direction. Plus, remember that most CPG categories are Mass targeted. While digital can help you target, in your upper funnel, be careful of not targeting too narrowly.

    For B2B players, content marketing is that much more important. Thinking thoughtfully about how you are bringing leads into your sales funnel and driving them through to a sale is a different thought process than for other business categories.

    Finally, technology companies are again different. Depending on if they are hardware, software, software as a service, B2B targeted vs. B2C targeted—all this can dictate a different marketing strategy and channel prioritization.

  3. Category. The category you play in will inform your channel choices, too. For instance, fashion and beauty are more social and influencer driven. In CPG, some categories are lower involvement and may not need social channels (e.g., trash bags, plastic wrap) compared to food or pet related categories that are higher involvement and may get more value from social content. Sometimes a brand can have an unexpected breakout impact with a channel, such as Denny’s practically revitalizing its brand through its Twitter content.

  4. Consumers, Audiences, & the Customer Journey. Before building your marketing plan, it’s critical to start with who your target customer(s), consumer(s), and/or audiences are and what behavior you are looking to drive (e.g., acquisition / first purchase, retention / repeat, loading / multiple purchases). You also need to understand a customer’s buying journey to identify the best apertures to reach them. For example, you will use different media to reach an adventure seeker or a foodie who does a lot of research compared to a product that is more convenience-oriented and impulse-driven. Or, if you had a product targeted towards moms for school-age children compared to a luxury vacation offer targeted towards retirees.

  5. Resources & Sophistication. Perhaps it goes without saying that if you have a small budget the brand will execute different tactics than a brand with a larger budget. Yet, I want to emphasize this again, because it is often the companies with few resources that get pulled by all the tactics experts claim they need to execute. Don’t get sucked in! If you have limited resources, you need to be prudent and creative about how you deploy those dollars. Also, if you don’t have the budget to invest in the right back-end technology, you can also focus on the wrong tactics and try to be more sophisticated in your approach than you should be. You can easily add more complexity than is required and deploy resources inefficiently. If you’re less sophisticated, remember to walk before you run. Don’t bite off more than you can manage. Personalization, for example, will be less important for you. But if you are a sophisticated marketing organization, testing new channels and leaning in to more sophisticated marketing approaches like data-based marketing and personalization will likely be more important for you. Or, if you are a company that manages categories that tend to market to younger cohorts (think Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Frito-Lay), as these companies do, you likely want to be on the forefront of new marketing channels that are attracting those audiences.

There is no one-size-fits all marketing strategy and plan.

Be careful not to buy-in to the hype of all the articles out there. Social and influencer marketing are the rage! Personalization is critical! Content marketing is where it’s at! Pause. Consider the 5 factors above to start to frame how you think about your marketing approach and mix. You have to be smart about how you deploy your resources and make sure you do what’s right for your business and brand considering your stage, business model, category, consumers and customer journey, and resources and sophistication level. Be smart with your marketing dollars. Invest wisely.


This article was first published at The Agency Oneto.

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