A Holistic Approach to 'Marketing'

I love the idea behind marketing. At it’s core, the difference between marketing and conversation is you’re selling someone something - whether it’s a thought, a service, or a product. My problem with traditional marketing is how scattered it quickly gets. The idea behind data-driven marketing helps ground ideas back to measurable results, but it tends to work at a tactical vs. strategic level. 

Take user acquisition for example. When I joined the team at MakerSquare, we knew we had competition out there, but we didn’t know who they really were, what channels they were hitting and critically, we didn’t understand how or where they were going to make their next move. Two tools immediately came to mind. 1) The good ol’ SWOT. and 2) a framework I’ve been working on to address this exact issue.  I don’t have a cool name for it yet, so let’s just call it the DaftFlower. It’s spring, right? 

DaftFlower Framework


The way this works is you take your core strategic goal. In the example above, I’m focused on user acquisition. (Engagement and Retention are similar, but have their own nuances driven by changes in user perception about your product.)

To build this floral framework, identify every major touchpoint of users to your brand. Students and potential students heard about us through 5 major channels: 

  • Social Media
  • Word of Mouth
  • Organic Search
  • Paid Media
  • Partners

Each of these channels have their own specific tactical opportunities. These are the the individuals petals of said flower. Social media for example has 6 major channels: 

  • Quora
  • Yelp
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Forums

You might have many more or many fewer channels - this all depends on your industry and where your users go for information. If you know your user, you’ll know these channels. If you don’t know your user, pick up the phone, write a personal email, or heck book a flight if you need to. (Seriously, it amazes me how few ‘marketing professionals’ have actually sold products face-to-face. Talking with your user/customer/partner whomever should be an enjoyable experience - they’re the ones fueling your company!) 

Keep building out your peduncles and petals until you’ve cataloged every major channel and space where your users hear about you (the awareness and research phase of the customer journey). Once you’ve done this, now start creating a map of voices. For example, what you share and how you promote content on LinkedIn will be vastly different than what you share and how you promote Facebook or Twitter. Keep your content relevant to your audiences. Channel-specific content is relevant to the reader and those readers are more likely to share that content within their network. In other words, copy/paste isn’t effective, it’s lazy and leads to irrelevant content.   

But wait, there’s more! While it’s already enough work to craft custom content for each channel, these channels rarely operate independently of each other. Back to the social network example. When we use Facebook, we’re still still fundamentally the same person as when we use LinkedIn - but the lens we apply to content shared and consumed drastically changes. At MakerSquare, when we thought about a campaign to boost product effectiveness awareness (how great our program was), we had to consider what message would actually resonate on Facebook vs. LinkedIn vs. Yelp. Facebook messaging gave credence to the community aspect of our program. LinkedIn gave professional credibility (especially among hiring partners) and Yelp gave us product credibility through reviews. Each social channel had it’s own tactical plan within the overall strategic plan. The flow went something like this: Core strategy > Campaign > Tactical execution > messaging. 

But wait there’s even more! Consider crossing channels. Craft your paid-media campaigns around what’s working within your other channels. Consider how closely organic and word-of-mouth work together. Consider how you can use word-of-mouth integrated help boost your partner specific strategies.  

In short, everything is closely related. Channels don't define your users, they act as filters for what your users want.