The basic 3-step marketing framework

The 3 fundamental tasks of marketing

Marketing is the repetition of 3 fundamental tasks:

  1. Target homogenous groups of customers/users/prospects/leads (Targeting).
  2. Communicate revelant information/messages to each group (Communicating).
  3. Measure the results (Measuring).

Each iteration or cycle is usually called a marketing campaign. The advantage of having an iterative proccess is that you can improve the next loop based on the result of the previous one.

This basic marketing framework is directly inspired by Claude Shannon and Waren Weaver's 1949 macromodel of communication.

Task 1: Targeting

Customers, users, prospects and leads

For any business, you can usually form 2 to 4 different groups based on how far they are from getting and/or using your offering for the 1st time:

1. The customers. They are the one who have already paid at least once to have or use your offering.

2. The users. Unlike the customers, users do not pay to get or use your offering, but they play a key role for some businesses. For example, Twitter or Facebook need both their users, whose data are the real "assets" of these platforms and the advertisers, who are the real customers.

3. The prospects. They are your potential customers and/or users. They are the one you need to persuade.

4. The leads. They are prospects that you can directly contact. They agreed to give you their e-mail address or their phone number. They are potentially your very next customers/users.

There is also a 5th group, that you should be aware of. I call them the Gremlins. Simply put, they are the wost kind of customers or users. You should avoid them at all costs. If you're not familiar with the Gremlins movies, here's a reminder of what a bad Gremlin looks like (The picture says it all):

Evil gremlin

Common specificities

Customers, users, prospects and leads should also be divided into smaller homogenous groups. The principle is simple: people from the same group share at least one common specificity.

Finding patterns can be difficult, but there are mainly 3 different methods for identifying recurring specificites:

  1. Relying on your best-inspired intuition and/or on your most-accurate observation.
  2. Using market reports, statistics, qualitative and quantitative studies.
  3. Researching the common specificities of your existing customers/users.

Usually, specificities are best found by combining all 3 methods. But when you're starting a business and bootstrapping your way up, you don't have much choice: you only have method 1. Then, as your business grows, you are able to use method 3. Method 2 can also be of great help, but accesssing the best data requires some money (thousands of dollars).

The specificities you are looking for to form your smaller groups mainly fall into 4 categories:

1. The geographic specificities

  • The country, state/region, city, neighborhood, street of the place of work.
  • The country, state/region, city, neighborhood, street of the place of residence.

2. The demographic specificities

  • Gender: male, female, transgender.
  • Age bracket.
  • Household structure: couple, single, widow, with/without children, with/without domestic pets, roommate(s), flatmate(s) or housemate(s).
  • Family size.
  • Income bracket.
  • Professional activities.
  • Level and specialty of education.
  • Religion.
  • Ethnicity.
  • Nationality.
  • Sexual orientation.

3. The behavioral specificities

  • The center of interests.
  • The secondary activities.
  • The jobs to be done.

4. The psychographic specificities

When you have successfully identified 1 or several homogenous groups to target, you are able to communicate specifically to each group. This is the next fundamental task.

Task 2: Communicating

Communication can be divided into 2 subtasks:

  1. Crafting/producing optimized information/messages.
  2. Creating/choosing favorable contexts to deliver your information/messages.

What I call context is usually referred as media or marketing channels. However, the term "context" is much more appropriate to the wide variety of situations in which information can be delivered.

These 2 subtasks are closely interdependant, and this is what makes communication difficult. The success of it relies on great execution of both subtasks simultaneously and accordingly. Among the infinite possible combinations of contexts and information/messages, you must choose the few that can work for your offering.

Task 3: Measuring

A marketing campaign is the unique combination of 3 elements:

  1. A target group.
  2. A set of information/messages.
  3. A context.

Based on the variation of these 3 parameters, there can be unlimited marketing campaigns. But the more specific the parameters are, the easier it is to analyze the performance of the marketing campaign.

For each marketing campaign, there are 3 basic metrics any marketer should try to monitor:

  1. The number of people reached by the campaign.
  2. The number of people who took action thanks the campaign.
  3. The Return On Investment (ROI) of the campaign. How much did it cost and how much revenue or value did it bring?

Each one of this number can be either very precise or largely approximate, either easy or hard to measure. This is true even in digital marketing. But the challenge is to try to have these numbers.

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