An effective marketing framework can bring in more customers and strengthen your brand. But how do you structure this framework? In this guide, you'll learn the definition of an inbound marketing framework, why these frameworks are so valuable, and how to build one that works for your business.
What Is a Marketing Framework?
A marketing framework isn't the same as your overarching business strategy or marketing plan. It's much more focused. A strategic marketing framework is a plan for how you'll accomplish your actual marketing goals. If a marketing strategy is a roadmap, the framework is the specific route you'll take to get to your destination. It covers the tactics and solutions you'll use to achieve your goals in more detail.
Marketing frameworks are a critical part of the advertising process. While overarching plans are valuable, they don't cover the fine details. A marketing framework acts as a template, guiding your actions during tasks like:
- Identifying marketing-specific goals
- Finding the audience you want to reach
- Choosing marketing channels to prioritize
- Designing your marketing materials
- Measuring your marketing success
- Adjusting your approach to new situations
Marketing Framework Examples
There are many types of marketing frameworks, each with its strengths and weaknesses. Before you build your own, it can help to understand how other frameworks are built. These three marketing framework examples show how different organizations structure their marketing to achieve the results they want.
This framework is designed to help startups grow. The Startup Pyramid framework consists of three stages, during each of which the marketing department significantly changes its focus:
- Product/market fit: Studying the market and tweaking the company's offering based on customer feedback and competitive intelligence.
- Transition to growth: Studying consumer reactions to your company's product by using various marketing channels.
- Growth: Narrowing your focus to the top-performing channels and most successful messages to boost growth as quickly as possible.
The Startup Pyramid framework is designed to achieve fast growth for a company that's just getting started. It's heavily data-driven, but it only covers the first few years of a company's existence. Once exponential growth is no longer the top priority, it's best to switch to another model.
The 7 Ps of Marketing
This is a relatively traditional marketing framework. In it, the marketing department focus on the 7 "Ps" of marketing simultaneously. These include:
- Products: Improving your offerings
- Prices: Fine-tuning the pricing model
- Places: Distributing your products and services
- Promotions: Actively advertising your offerings effectively
- People: Maintaining high-quality services with excellent staff
- Processes: Maintaining and improving internal marketing processes
- Physical evidence: Passively building your reputation with quality and service
This framework sees marketing as a holistic endeavor. It approaches marketing as something that every part of the business must support, from advertising to hiring the right people. It's excellent for established companies, but it may be overkill for small companies or individuals.
The sales funnel framework, also known as the content marketing framework, treats each marketing action as a level of a funnel designed to guide the customer journey. Advertisements are at the top of the funnel, landing pages are in the middle, and the checkout page is at the bottom.
In the sales funnel framework, all marketing is intended to guide people to a final purchase. It's expected that people will leave the funnel at each step, though the goal is to retain as many as possible. This framework is ideal for companies selling products and services one at a time. It's less effective at maintaining customer loyalty.
Why Use a Marketing Framework?
So why should you implement a marketing framework? Because it guides your day-to-day marketing efforts. These methodologies act as a frame of reference for your marketing campaigns, giving you the tools to approach new situations quickly and effectively.
There are hundreds of approaches to a marketing task like increasing brand awareness. Your marketing framework will help you narrow down your options so you can spend your time finetuning your response instead of trying to choose your approach from scratch.
For example, if you want to boost sales, each marketing framework would lead you to take a different approach. The Startup Pyramid model leads you to do additional market research to find ways to make a better market fit. The 7 Ps method would lead you to explore each of the Ps for ways to improve. The sales funnel method would lead you to examine where you're losing the most leads in your funnel and fix it. Each approach gives you a way to grasp the problem and the tools to solve it.
How to Create a Marketing Framework
There are plenty of marketing frameworks you can choose to use, but they may not fit your exact needs. If you're not already using a framework, there is likely one that will fit your business perfectly. If you try to adopt another company's marketing plans wholesale, you'll have to change your company to match the plan. This can be difficult and time-consuming.
But what if you could adjust the framework to fit your company? You can! Write a strategic framework that's built to support your company as it already exists. Here's how to make strategic marketing frameworks that fit you instead of the other way around.
1. Set Goals
The most fundamental role of a marketing framework is to help you accomplish your company's goals. The first step of developing your marketing framework is to determine how you'll do that.
If you already have a marketing strategy, you've accomplished this. Your framework should be designed to help you reach the goals of your strategy. If you don't have a plan, however, you'll need to set some goals before going any further.
You should set both long-term and short-term goals. Long-term goals are things that may take years to accomplish, such as reaching $1 million in sales. Short-term goals are more immediate, like doubling your monthly sales volume. It's best if you have one or two long-term goals, supported by a collection of short-term goals.
Action item: Write down your company's ultimate goal, then list goals your marketing department can pursue to support it. Identify the long-term goals that are most important and the short-term goals that will support them. These are the foundation of the rest of your framework.
2. Identify Your Audience
Marketing is all about communicating with potential customers. Identify your audience to market to them effectively. If you don't have a clear idea of who you want to buy your product, you can't write a convincing marketing pitch.
The easiest way to identify your target consumers is through market research. Find out who's already buying your goods and services. Research your competitors to figure out who's buying similar things from them. Once you've collected data on your potential audience, sort them into two to five groups based on similar characteristics and demographics. You should have groups like "35-55-year old single men who like hiking" and "parents who go hiking with their kids on the weekends."
Finally, write a detailed customer persona for each group. Give each group a story and explain why they want your products. These personas are the people you want to communicate with through your marketing.
Action item: Study your sales information to sort your current audience into groups. Write detailed personas for each group.
3. Describe Your Offering
The marketing department rarely has input into the products and services a business offers. However, it should have an in-depth understanding of how the offerings work and why they appeal to people. Once you've identified your target market, explain how you'll present your offering.
This is more than just branding. Are you positioning your offerings as the solution to a problem? As a luxury? As a basic necessity? Look at why people buy your product, then decide if you want to change how you present it. Many companies transition from positioning their product as a luxury to a necessity and vice versa. Understanding how you want people to perceive your product will shape your entire marketing approach.
Action item: Study why your audience is buying your product and how they perceive it. If you want to change your public perception, explain why and how it will help the business achieve its goals.
4. Choose Your Channels
Next, identify the ways you'll perform your marketing. A fundamental part of building your marketing framework is choosing whether you want to approach marketing holistically or not.
Here, it helps to be specific, but you don't need to restrain yourself to standard marketing channels. Instead, name all the channels you want to include in your marketing. Anything that affects whether customers choose to buy from your business can be a marketing channel. It all affects whether people buy, after all.
For example, standard marketing channels include television, social media, and cold calls. However, you can expand into other, non-traditional channels as well, such as:
- Your website
- Content marketing
- Your physical premises
- Customer service
Action item: Examine your marketing to see which channels you're already using. Which seem effective? Which don't? Are there channels you're not using that you could easily add? List the channels you want to focus on going forward, trim the ineffective ones, and add new ones.
5. Determine Your KPIs
KPIs, or key performance indicators, are critical. If your marketing strategy is a map, and your framework is the directions, then KPIs are mile markers. They let you know how you're stacking up compared to your stated business goals.
A good KPI must be data-driven, or it won't help. Look for quantifiable measurements of success. Once you've identified your goals and chosen your channels, you can determine KPIs that truly matter. For instance, a KPI for a marketing team looking to increase sales might be the month-over-month change in sales. It's easy to measure, and it demonstrates whether you're moving in the right direction to accomplish your goals on time.
Action item: Examine your short-term and long-term goals to determine how to measure quantifiable success. Set KPIs for both sets of goals.
6. Choose Content
Most marketing channels rely on content like ads, blog posts, and landing pages to make an impact. Furthermore, the content that works on one channel probably won't work on another. For instance, a good Facebook ad won't work as a content marketing page.
Study each of your marketing channels to understand what content works best and where. Then develop a plan for creating and posting that content effectively. Your plan should go into detail, including who's responsible for writing the content, when it will go live, and how you'll track whether it's working. You can and should set specific KPIs related to your content, as well.
Action item: Create a specific schedule for developing and releasing new content along with maintaining old content on each of your chosen channels
7. Monitor and Test
Once you've built the basics of the framework, it's time to implement it. You can test the efficacy of a strategic marketing framework is to see how it works in practice. So, once you have goals, KPIs, and content schedules, start implementing your framework and monitoring how it works.
A framework shouldn't be static. It should constantly be improving to fit your company's changing needs. Monitoring it over time will help you adjust your tactics to better support your strategies and goals.
Action item: Continually track your marketing framework's success by collecting quantifiable data. Once a quarter, re-examine your framework to make sure it's continuing to meet your needs, and revise if necessary.
Getting Started with a Strategic Marketing Framework
As a marketer, it's easy to lose sight of the forest for the trees and vice versa. A marketing framework is a bridge to connect your broad marketing strategy with your day-to-day marketing actions.
If you don't already have a marketing framework in place, you can develop your own. By setting goals and KPIs, understanding your audience and your offerings, and developing specific content plans for your chosen channels, you can build a framework that suits your business. As you continue to work within a framework, you'll better understand what your company needs. From there, you can refine your marketing framework into a reliable, practical set of guidance for your marketing department.