How to Build a Marketing Strategy that Means More Direction, Less Wasted Spend, and Extra Productivity

Kerry Thorpe, Head of Comms EU for Ben & Jerry's, and Molly Baker, Founder of Indie Consulting
One of Joe’s favourite TMM talks of all time was with Kerry Thorpe and Molly Baker on ‘How to plan amazing campaigns that make an impact’, so to kick off our latest series of talks on ‘doing a lot on a little’, we had to get them back on your screens. Kerry heads up all […]

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One of Joe’s favourite TMM talks of all time was with Kerry Thorpe and Molly Baker on ‘How to plan amazing campaigns that make an impact’, so to kick off our latest series of talks on ‘doing a lot on a little’, we had to get them back on your screens.

Kerry heads up all things comms for Ben & Jerry’s, and Molly is the founder of marketing agency, Indie Consulting. They’ve worked together to produce many campaigns and this session is a testament to their years of experience in writing strategies that actually work.

They covered;

  • 👀 What a great strategy looks like
  • 🧱 How to build one
  • 🛬 How to implement it in the real world

As part of this series’ mission to help you do a lot with a little, Kerry and Molly suggested that if you are a solo marketer or low on resource and budget you should focus on the below to create your great strategy:

  1. What are the jobs to be done?
  2. The Comms Tree framework
  3. Setting up your measurement framework

👀 So, what does a great strategy look like?

What’s the job to be done?

What are we really talking about when we talk about impactful strategies? The short answer is – we’re answering the question ‘what’s the job to be done?’ All great strategies begin with asking the big (and often difficult) questions around what you’re trying to achieve with your strategy. Putting in the work upfront to gather up all the information and insights and to ascertain who all of the stakeholders are is essential.

Comms big idea and priorities

Once you know why you’re trying to say something, you can look at how you’re trying to say it. What’s the big comms idea? What’s the overarching theme that will tie everything else together? This stage should be quite a lot of work, and potentially quite challenging at times, but absolutely worth it. Now you should have a list of comms tasks and priorities and a clear vision on what you’re NOT trying to say.

Platform and channel strategy

Who do you want to reach and how? 

Omnichannel comms calendar

Once you know what the job to be done is, what you want to say and how you want to say it, the channels you want to utilise, then you need to map all of that out into an actionable calendar.

Assets and investment strategy

With your calendar in hand you can start mapping your comms out against an investment strategy. This should explain how much money you’re going to put behind each of your communications tactics.

Optimisation and measurement plan

There is no point in doing strategy work if you haven’t set up a set of measurements, and you know what success looks like. Measurement is essential to understanding if it was all worth it at the end.

You should end up with a ‘strategy on a page’ – a one page document that all stakeholders can refer back to throughout the project, which outlines everything from platform priorities to addressable audience segments to the assets that are needed to communicate the objectives.

🧱 How to build a great strategy

The Comms Tree Framework

Molly shared her Comms Tree Framework – the goal of which is to really highlight what it is that you’re ultimately trying to communicate, how that can be developed into a campaign platform, and what kind of challenges you envision encountering.

Audience strategy

Once you’ve developed a communications framework, you need to apply it your audience. Molly’s advice is to keep it simple. Break down your audience universe into 3 buckets:

Core, accessible and aspirational.

Molly explains how you need to then try and find a digitally-led comms approach by bringing together the comms tree and audience work. This will help to define what your assets should look like and focus on.

🛬 How to implement a great strategy

Without an implementation plan, even the best strategy won’t achieve our goals. When setting out to implement your strategy, you need to consider the following:  

Consistent communication, objective and creative theme

Having a consistent creative theme, means that you can create taglines that can be applied across channels, and provide that solid base line for all activations and tactics. 

Creative, cultural, PR alignment

Think about your bread and butter campaign calendar, and then think about how you can apply a cultural calendar on top for even wider reach and engagement.

Dialogue and conversation with consumers

It is essential to ensure that you consider how you can create a dialogue with your consumers. Community management and thinking up ways to directly engage with our audience can sometimes get put on the back burner, especially when launching a new message, initiative or product.

Reporting and measurement

Reporting and measurement can make or break a great strategy. Thinking through how success is going to be defined is so important to not only creating an amazing, impactful campaign, but also to ensure you are always learning as a marketer. 

Optimisation, processes and learning agendas

Another key to success. Learning agendas are a great place to get clear about what some internal hypotheses might be and gaining clarity on insights about our audiences and platforms. Good learning agendas act as a guiding post throughout implementation and can help drive overall success.

🧠 Things to remember:

  • Avoid a cookie cutter approach – you should be stress testing yours and your peers’ ideas throughout the process and having tricky conversations. Don’t just copy and paste something that has worked for you before.
  • Does it make you smile? – With a human-centred approach, ask what the campaign stirs in you? “If your words don’t move people, your words don’t work.”
  • Test your creative ideas as you go – the greatest way to bring empathy into marketing executions is by not making assumptions about what people want to see and hear. The more thoughtful you can be, the more you will learn about what will connect best with our audience. Be open minded about creative ideas.
  • How can you learn more about your consumers? – Taking a curiosity-first mindset when you develop these strategies is so important and leads to better work. Open the floor to other people on the team and partners to bring ideas to the table with this question in mind.