Blog : Strategy

Books + Frameworks = My Favorite Shiny Objects

Books + Frameworks = My Favorite Shiny Objects

As an avid reader and life long learner, I love to read marketing books and learn new frameworks. These are the shiny objects I’m easily distracted by, in a good way of course;) Recently I’ve added a few new tools to my marketing kit and am excited to use them for myself and clients! Since I like to keep my posts short and sweet, I’ll give you a list and how I like to use each of them.

Building a Story Brand

  • I’m only 2 chapters in and I am loving this book! The author perfectly balances giving examples and explaining the principales. I also love it when authors include summaries and next steps at the end of each chapter! It shows that they have taken the time to be clear and concise in their communications and want people to use what they are teaching. I’d been wanting to read the Hero’s Journey and this is a digestible alternative for marketing folks and business owners. Below is an overview of the story brand steps, I’ll definitely be using this for marketing strategy and planning moving forward.

Running Lean

  • This is a great guide for startups or any company that is starting a new division or product line. The problem interviews in Chapter 7 are my favorite. I would recommend that every business go through this exercise to better understand their customers and their problems.

Good Strategy / Bad Strategy

  • An interesting read. More academic and less about application. I’d recommend skimming this or looking up a summary online. Basically, he breaks strategy down into 3 parts – diagnosis, guiding principales, and action. I’m not sure how to apply my learnings from this yet.

Pirate Metrics

  • My latest obsession. AARRR matey! Literally it means Acquisition, Activation, Revenue, Retention, and Referral. These metrics perfectly compliment the buyers journey and I recommend having a # and % for each. For example, for acquisition, track the # of website visitors and the % increase of website visitors month over month.

Design Thinking  

  • I haven’t used this yet so I’m putting it hear for me to learn soon!

Lean Canvas

  • A great business and marketing model to follow. Personally, I think I’ll use the story brand model with the pirate metrics and then cross reference it with this to make sure that the strategy is complete. A great tool for building a stronger foundation.



P.S. Apparently there is a scientific reason why we like shiny things…

What Is Going On Here?

What Is Going On Here?

I am reading Good Strategy / Bad Strategy by Richard Rumelt and would like to share my notes with you. The key point is in the title of this post, ‘What is going on here?’. The key to strategic work is figuring out what is going on. Not just deciding what to do, but the  problem of understanding the situation.

All of the below are my organized highlights…

Bad Strategy

First, let’s talk about what a bad strategy looks like.

To detect a bad strategy, look for one or more of its four major hallmarks:

  • Fluff. Fluff is a form of gibberish masquerading as strategic concepts or arguments. It uses “Sunday” words (words that are inflated and unnecessarily abstruse) and apparently esoteric concepts to create the illusion of high-level thinking.
  • Failure to face the challenge. Bad strategy fails to recognize or define the challenge. When you cannot define the challenge, you cannot evaluate a strategy or improve it.
  • Mistaking goals for strategy. Many bad strategies are just statements of desire rather than plans for overcoming obstacles.
  • Bad strategic objectives. A strategic objective is set by a leader as a means to an end. Strategic objectives are “bad” when they fail to address critical issues or when they are impracticable.”

If you fail to identify and analyze the obstacles, you don’t have a strategy. Instead, you have either a stretch goal, a budget, or a list of things you wish would happen.

When a leader characterizes the challenge as underperformance, it sets the stage for bad strategy. Underperformance is a result. The true challenges are the reasons for the underperformance.

A leader may successfully identify the key challenge and propose an overall approach to dealing with the challenge. But if the consequent strategic objectives are blue sky, not much has been achieved. The purpose of good strategy is to offer a potentially achievable way of surmounting a key challenge. If the leader’s strategic objectives are just as difficult to accomplish as the original challenge, there has been little value added by the strategy.

Good Strategy

Good strategy requires leaders who are willing and able to say no to a wide variety of actions and interests. Strategy is at least as much about what an organization does not do as it is about what it does.

The kernel of a strategy contains three elements:

  • A diagnosis that defines or explains the nature of the challenge. A good diagnosis simplifies the often overwhelming complexity of reality by identifying certain aspects of the situation as critical.
  • A guiding policy for dealing with the challenge. This is an overall approach chosen to cope with or overcome the obstacles identified in the diagnosis.
  • A set of coherent actions that are designed to carry out the guiding policy. These are steps that are coordinated with one another to work together in accomplishing the guiding policy.

Good strategy is not just “what” you are trying to do. It is also “why” and “how” you are doing it.

Examples of Work: Promoting a Worldwide Conference

Examples of Work: Promoting a Worldwide Conference

Our goal for the FoodTrekking World conference in 2017 was to bring industry leaders together and create economic opportunities where food and beverage meet travel and hospitality. The 3 day conference had inspirational and educational keynotes and opportunities to experience the food tourism industry in Portland. If you are curious what food tourism is, check out this page on the World Food Travel Association site. They are the organization who hosted the event.

I worked with the association president and fellow marketing committee members to create the marketing strategy and plan for the event. The committee worked together to implement it as well.

Marketing Strategy Outline:

  • Summary of the event and organization background information to make sure all committee members understood the who, what, where, when, and why details
  • Pricing and budget for the event and marketing
  • Vision and mission statements to guide us
  • Target market information for the foundation of the plan
  • Why attend – if we don’t know then how will our audience know why they should attend?
  • Keywords and phrases for the website, blog, and social media sites
  • Objectives and key results for the conference and marketing
  • Position – who else is in the market and how are we different?
  • SWOT of the conference
  • Key strategies and initiatives (content marketing and influencer outreach were a large part of this)
  • Marketing tools for reference (for example influencer outreach platforms)

Once the strategy and plan were in place, it was time to go to the conference and experience Portland for the first time. Prior to the start of the conference, the group took a food tour of the city. I also spent time with friends in the area and they showed me the beautiful waterfalls in the gorge. It was an amazing experience! I had the chance to work with an inspiring team and on a engaging and fulfilling project. Attendees were thrilled with the quality of the content and speakers and the event was a tremendous success. Here’s to the next FoodTrekking World!

What Does My Work Look Like?

What Does My Work Look Like?

The marketing strategies and plans I create are simple, short, and working documents. I want to make sure that business have a solid foundation in their strategy and plan and also ways to start improving their marketing now. For example, my plans may include your vision, mission, brand pillars, story, personas, and marketing strategies. Yet every time I meet with a client, we are finding ways to help them get more clients now while building or rebuilding their foundation.

That’s why when a friend said they wanted to see more examples of my work, I wasn’t sure what to actually show them. While some of them are client docs and I’m not sure they’d appreciate me posting their plans. Most are working docs that make sense to me and the business owner but I’m not sure they would make sense to anyone else. In part because the strategies and plans I create are for each person I work with and also, sometimes you don’t need a formal document that is posted for everyone to see. Sometimes you just need guiding posts and to start testing and measuring ideas.

One client said that “simply having someone to bounce ideas off of was really helpful, in fact that was probably the most helpful”. While another found a new idea for creating packages for her business most powerful. In fact she liked it so much she mentioned it to a friend and they called me about my marketing planning services. That’s the beauty of marketing, you start to create something and that creation transforms and you never know where your next lead will come from. 

After our first conversation with another client I started to organize my notes into a future plan and it always amazes me how each client has similar pieces in their plan yet can be totally different. Each is tailor to what they are doing and how they speak to their audience. For this client, we are basing her strategy off of the stories she loves to tell. As a master story teller, all of her lessons and values that she wants to impart to her clients are in her stories. We are using that as the basis for her brand pillars, vision, and mission. She also loves to connect other people. While friends have asked her why she didn’t have a Facebook page or website, with her particular style we are going to test a Facebook group instead to let the community she has built help her further build her brand.

Where are you with your marketing strategy and plan? Is it overwhelming thinking about starting one? They can be simple one pagers and still be powerful. It’s a matter of having a plan and foundation and also just getting started with new ideas.

Honestly, most of the work I do is in motion, a moving plan or project. Isn’t that how most business is? Why should your strategy and plan be different? Whether I’m working on a large scale 3 month project as a content strategist and team lead for a website, developing a branding strategy for a 30 million dollar business, managing a project for 10 new YouTube videos, or working one on one with a business owner to take their marketing to the next level, the work is varied and rich. Each project has it’s own marketing strategies and tools that I am using yet I am seeing foundational patterns in each. I suppose that’s the benefit of being in marketing for over 10 years. I have the experience to know what has worked or not worked and how to be creative. It is a ever changing landscape and still the principles remain solid.

If you are curious about an example, here is my strategy and plan master. I keep all the potential components of a strategy here and for each client I’ll pull elements that makes sense for them. Please feel free to copy and use for yourself. (See, didn’t I tell you simple is best.)

Why Create Buyer Personas

Why Create Buyer Personas

Because the foundation of your business are your buyers! The purpose of this exercise is to know who they are, what they are thinking and what they are feeling. Both when working with you and outside of your business relationship.

Personas are such an important part of every marketing strategy and plan. After you have your vision, mission, and brand pillars, personas are the next building block. If you are looking for an awesome resource, I like this one from HubSpot.

You can have fun with them too. Make them sound like real people, because they are real people. This is the perfect chance to pull out your sticky notes, use the white board, and bring the team together. Enjoy!

Buyer Persona Template