As a marketer, you likely deal with a lot of granular questions on a weekly basis as you decide what to share with the world.
What content is our audience consuming? What current events are defining online conversations? What are competitors posting? What channels and creative are most popular?
These are all good questions and certainly ones that will make you great at your job.
But once in a while, it can help to think of an even bigger, more abstract and somewhat morbid question: What could destroy us?
While it’s not necessarily fun, it’s healthy to think through success as an uncertainty, because it is. In 1980, seven of the top ten companies in the S&P 500 were oil and gas companies. Can you guess how many of the top ten valued companies in 1980 were still in the top ten in 2020?
Even in just twenty years, it’s fascinating to think about how the world has changed. Mergers, recessions, bankruptcies and latent innovation will continue to change the course of today’s giants. Many of the companies we think could be popular in the next twenty years may not even exist today. Certainly, nobody in 1985 could have predicted the rise and power of social media companies.
But what can you do as a marketer to prepare for the future of social media and marketing?
What is a marketing strategy framework?
A marketing strategy framework is an analysis that helps you understand your business, how it stands out, its financial potential within the larger industry and how you plan to market to your audience successfully. Your marketing framework serves as a way to define your strategy, how you plan to execute it and how it will achieve your goals.
Marketing strategy frameworks are often represented in graphics or visuals that clearly outline your analysis and strategy. They all help you evaluate different aspects of your business within your industry, the environment in which your industry exists and factors within your business.
What are the benefits of using a marketing strategy framework?
There are many benefits of using a marketing strategy framework to better understand and shape your strategy, and business as a whole.
Here are three key benefits to consider:
An improved marketing strategy and direction
An effective marketing team and strategy is a lot like a ship: You need a compass to know where you’re going. After all, if a marketing strategy isn’t clearly defined, your workflows, communication and efforts can become chaotic, or sink.
Your strategy framework is your compass. It helps you shape—and visualize—a clearly defined marketing strategy by giving you a clearer picture of your business, audience, industry, potential threats, competitors and where your business and products can stand out—all of which are crucial elements to achieving your goals and growing your business.
Having a framework also helps you understand when a strategy isn’t working, and when you need to chart a new course. If you don’t know what your strategy is or what your team is doing, you’ll never be able to make improvements or double down on wins.
Defined workflows and responsibilities
Your crew also needs to have a clear understanding of their roles. If they don’t know what their job is or how to complete it, your ship will be adrift.
A marketing framework lays out why your strategy looks the way it does. And part of this is clearly outlining jobs to be done, and who is responsible.
This leads to more efficient workflows, a clearer understanding of what everyone needs to do and a limited need for “redos.”
Clearer communication with less blockers
All of the above results in clearer communication and a breakdown of silos—which ensures you’re in ship shape for the long haul.
Your framework serves as a compass that will tell you where to go—and what tools you’ll need to get there. In this way, the process of building a framework helps you surface and justify tools and resources your teams need to do their best work, further removing blockers.
For example, social media listening can bolster every team’s strategy and customer understanding. Providing instructions on how it works, how to access your listening tools and who to talk to about them will strengthen your whole org.
Documenting your framework also provides cross-org visibility into your business priorities on the marketing side, and how you’re getting there. Breaking down this silo can show other teams and stakeholders how they might collaborate with you, or tap into the tools and resources you have at your disposal.
With an idea of where you’re going and how your ship will operate, you’re ready to set sail—so to speak.
3 best marketing frameworks for brand planning
By learning simple, strategic frameworks, you can start thinking through the trends that could define your company’s future and give you a leg up on areas and conversations to research. These frameworks will help you reinforce why you exist and how to analyze other competitors in the space to better chalk up your position.
Porter’s Five Forces Framework
The brainchild of academic Michael Porter (he is to modern strategy as Lebron James is to basketball), the Five Forces Framework is one of the most popular to understand what’s happening outside of your business.
Consisting of five components, Porter’s Five Forces essentially helps you answer the broader question of how attractive it is to be in a specific industry:
- Supplier power: How many alternative suppliers are there, and how much would it cost for someone to switch to your product vs. theirs? What makes you stand out?
- Buyer power: How much power does your customer have to influence the decisions your business makes?
- Threat of substitution: What unique proposition does your business or product offer? How do you and your products compare to others out there?
- Threat of new entry: What blockers or obstacles may stand in your way as you enter the market?
- Competitive rivalry: What are all the other outside forces at play that can impact how your business/product/services perform vs. the market at large?
This marketing framework can help you assess how power is distributed in an industry, the nature of how easy it is to enter and the likelihood of survival.
For example, look at the airline industry. There are only two significant suppliers: Airbus and Boeing. If they decide to raise prices or go on strike, it can create shockwaves throughout and likely impact every airline in the industry. In addition, since it costs a lot to build planes and market websites, it’s much harder to enter the industry.
In contrast, the real estate industry has more power in the hands of buyers, who have many options (brokers, websites) for price comparison. For sectors like food and beverage, there is a lot of competition, including healthier options at relatively low costs to the average person who wants to switch.
While not every company may have a traditional supplier or buyer framework (i.e., modern internet companies), every company is impacted by trends that influence buyers.
When to use the Five Forces Framework
Use the Five Forces Framework when you want to:
- Gain a broader understanding of your market position and overall share of voice.
- Understand the power of suppliers, consumers and your brand and competitors in the industry.
- Get a sense of the differences, and threats, between you and competitors.
- Better understand where the threat of industry and market shifts and changes may come from, and what may impact your business’s profitability.
How to use the Five Forces framework
The first step is to zoom out and look at the industry or space your brand is in, which can be clarified by searching Google or Yahoo Finance. Use the image above to guide your template, with rivalry in the center and the corresponding forces surrounding it.
Start with your customers and think through some questions: What else are they using? If you disappeared tomorrow, what would they be doing? Then, think through the industry as a whole. Is it easy for new companies to come in? Does loyalty play a role? All the criteria in the above image can help you find answers to questions like these and learn about your place in the industry. What you do next depends on the output. If customer loyalty isn’t very strong or switching costs are low, it might be good to pay attention to what competitors are doing to combat that.
Another common framework is the PESTELE Analysis, which considers these factors that can influence your product or brand:
Take a look at modern apps—it would’ve been impossible for an app like Uber to exist twenty years ago. It needed the right technology to advance, like smartphones, and low regulations to spur quick growth.
Similarly, PESTELE factors essentially created what the airline industry is today. The recession and airline deregulation of the 1980s forced many airlines into total collapse. American, Southwest, Delta and others were able to weather the storm and survive to continue their success today.
While understanding the environment and industry can help build a longer-term strategy, some tools are more helpful for internal analysis and more nuanced to the capabilities of your brand.
When to use the PESTELE framework
Use the PESTELE framework to:
- Identify factors outside of your business and industry that may impact your products, profitability and your business as a whole.
- Identify whether your business should take a stance or comment on political or ethical topics within your industry that may impact your reputation.
- Understand where you may be falling behind, and where competitors can pull ahead.
How to use the PESTELE framework
Unlike the Five Forces, which can largely be filled in through some level of intuition and understanding of business models, PESTELE requires a lot more research to understand the different trends impacting your brand.
Start by diving into each driver of the PESTELE analysis above. Politically, have any laws been passed that could impact your business? Any new laws that might be passed? Are there any new social trends that might make your business appetizing? Any new technology (i.e. generative AI) that could dramatically change the way people use your service? What’s going on economically, and how might the economy impact social media efforts or the earnings of your business?
What counts as a notable factor is entirely up to you, but PESTELE will open your brain up to think creatively about the business world around you.
A SWOT Analysis is a popular framework used to categorize how you’re doing as a company. With the acronym standing for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats, SWOT essentially looks at how the present and future can coexist within a single framework. Take a look at an example SWOT of Starbucks. While it has the workings of a strong company in the present, the opportunities and threats section of the SWOT can help the company assess how it moves forward.
Like the other frameworks, SWOT only benefits from the amount of detail you put into it and the creative ways you think about existing trends plus how they impact the work you do.
When to use a SWOT analysis
Conduct a SWOT analysis to:
- Analyze your brand from the inside out to understand where you’re at, what’s working or not working, and where you need to go.
- Compare the performance of your business to existing threats that may require you to make strategy adjustments.
- Identify what business threats exist—externally and internally through weaknesses—and what must be done to combat them.
- Where there are opportunities to make improvements and strengthen your business moving forward.
How to complete a SWOT analysis
The great thing about the SWOT analysis is that it’s fairly easy to put together and can be a good crux for reflecting on your current brand.
You likely have the knowledge to do a SWOT without much external research. The SWOT can also be done at a functional level, like assessing your social media strategy. This involves thinking through strengths (which platforms are you strongest on), weaknesses (struggling content), opportunities (new platforms and competitor advantages) as well as threats (market conditions, algorithm changes, etc.)
Don’t underestimate your role in zooming out
While not many jobs require you to build and populate these models as a function of your daily duties, understanding how your company is positioned to benefit or fail from the changing world around it is a muscle you can use for any job.
While it’s constructive if you’re a newer company or an upstart in the industry, it can also be a beneficial way to build influence within a larger or existing company. If you’re in a customer-facing role like social media, your eyes and ears are constantly listening to conversations customers, governments and competitors are having.
It’s not likely that you alone can fix the state of the company. After all, some of the brightest executives in the world couldn’t help Blackberry predict the business model that would spark iPhone adoption to skyrocket. But even if you’re not the one making the decision, a single input in a PESTELE or SWOT can be the catalyst to surviving the next twenty years.
Once you’ve used strategy frameworks to find opportunities for your brand, these three prioritization frameworks will help you define projects and next steps.