How Do You Create a Great Marketing Strategy? | 5-Minute Whiteboard

This week, I’m going back to basics. Not because you need a refresher course, but because so many of us are frustrated in the weeds of marketing precisely because we can’t see the strategy forest for the tactical trees. I’ve written before about how too few marketers grasp the difference between strategy and tactics. If you’re struggling to get a new marketer, client, boss, or leadership team member on board with defining strategy, this whiteboard’s for you.

The core of marketing strategy is having great answers to just five questions. Let’s get into it 👇👇👇

Howdy SparkToro fans!

How do you create a good marketing strategy? A great market strategy. I know. I know.

It’s gonna seem like back to basics. Rand, we already have a marketing strategy. I’m executing on my content marketing. I’m executing on my audience research I’m executing on my email newsletter, my SEO, whatever it is.

Yes, and I bet a huge part of the reason many of the jobs that you do in your work are very frustrating to you, whether you do client work or whether you’re doing work inside a brand is because you don’t have a great marketing strategy, or you have a great one, but no one has explained to you exactly why it’s great and why all the tactics that you’re doing fit into it. So, look, I think we have to answer this question first, this is fundamental, and it’s a great choice for a five minute whiteboard.

So let’s talk about needing the great answers to these five questions, core five questions.

First off, I mean, you gotta be asking what product are we marketing. Where do you get that data? Where do you get that information?

Fundamentally, that should come from leadership. Right? Leadership should be telling you, hey, We have this product. It’s got great margins. It is what our investors believe in. It’s what we believe in. It’s why we–Here’s why we think it’s better than the other market solutions and opportunities out there. Okay.

Great. Fantastic. Leadership teams should be telling you this. If you’re on the leadership team, we’ll talk a little bit more about choosing a great product, maybe in another five minute whiteboard.

To whom?

To whom are we marketing this great product that we have chosen to market? This solution, this service, this problem that we’re solving.

That, you can figure out from three sources. I think these are the best three. You can figure it out from market research, which is essentially usually aggregated and anonymized surveys that third parties run. A lot of this data and information is out there on the web. Right?

In addition to running SparkToro, I also run an indie video game studio, right, that’s making a game and a ton of what we put together for like our investors and that kind of thing, is essentially market research that comes from third parties who’ve done this type of stuff, some of it would pay for, some of it’s free, you can commission it yourself. You could run it yourself. Right? Run some of these surveys. We’ve run several surveys for Spark Toro, too, to try and understand our audience and customers better.

Also, you should be doing some form of audience research. Obviously, you’re watching this on SparkToro, and it’s from me. So, you know, you’re going to expect that I’m gonna but that’s not the only place you can do audience research. I really like SimilarWeb.

I think I have great data. You can buy Clickstream data from places like Datos and SimilarWeb and Web Consumer. You could go to places like Comscore. You could use the free version of SimilarWeb: their free tool on the web. You could use Audiense (with an S).

They’re sort of one of Spark Toro’s more direct competitors.

And this will give you an answer to: Who are the people who care about this problem and our solution to it? And next, you need to answer this one.


Why do those people care? Why do these people that you’ve figured out care about this problem and are the ones you’re marketing your solution to–Why do they care about that problem and your solution? There’s only one way to get that: interviews.

You have to talk to people. Marketers are often kept in the dark, they’re not put in front of customers. Look, if you have to do that, I think a lot of agency folks, they’ll talk to the sales people, they’ll talk to the reps, customer service. But, I would try and get in front of a dozen, two dozen actual people who use your product and have interviews with them. You will learn so much about what they care about and the problem that you’re solving. This is true in B2B, but it’s also true in B2C.

This is literally how Snickers figured out that they should market their candy bar as a hunger solution, not just a sweet snack. Because they found that people were using it as a like meal replacement or energy bar replacement, so they marketed it as Snickers: you’re not you when you’re hungry. Right? That is because they ask this question in interviews.

Solid analysis of Snickers’ ad campaign from WARC


What messages will resonate most? Four. So, this data, you can get that information or you can insight into what it’s going to be, and then you can test as a marketer, right, with CRO and testing. But you can get it from what are people talking about, through social listening, through audience search, absolutely, also through your surveys and interviews. You’re essentially looking for the phrasing, the words and phrases that they use because you wanna reflect and mirror that back to them. If people talk about the problem as, you know, I’m hungry or I’m famished or I need energy, you want to use famished or energy or hunger as the things that you heard and reflect that right back to them in your messaging. That’s the thing that’s going to work the best whether that we’re talking about ad throughs, or we’re talking about content on a website, or we’re talking about a landing page, that’s what works.

And number five, last but not least, which channels and tactics will reach them? So many people think this is all there is to strategy. It is not. It is not friends.

That’s not the only thing there is to strategy. There’s so much more. All of this, but I will say this. Channel and tactics that will reach them, you can obviously do some testing, but competitive research is great here, and so too is audience research, seeing which social networks are they on, and where do they have conversations?

Oh, all my customers are on Instagram. Yeah, but are they talking about your thing, the problem you’re solving, and your solution to it? Is Instagram where they’re having that conversation? Or is it on LinkedIn? Or is it on YouTube?

Or is in email newsletters? Is it in private Slack channels? Or is it at particular events in the world that you need to go to and be present at, and sponsor, and speak at, and all those kinds of things. That’s where you’ll get your list of channels and tactics.

The whole goal of a phenomenal marketing strategy is this: The right message in the right place to the right people at the right time. Do that and you have a great strategy. Just don’t mix up strategy and tactics, and don’t think strategy is just channels and tactics.

I’ll have more on that for you next time. Thanks for joining. Take care.