What is a marketing framework?

A marketing framework is a template containing instructions for the execution of your marketing plan. This framework ensures that you’re delivering the right content to the right audience, through the right channels, at the right time to achieve your core marketing objectives.

To use an analogy, the marketing framework is to the marketing plan as DNA is to all life. Or as a blueprint is to a building.

DNA and an architect’s blueprints are less directly concerned with the “why?” of life and of buildings, and are more trained on the what and the how.

How important is it to have a marketing framework?

Very.

A marketing framework is what separates ad-hoc marketing strategies from a sustained effort. It gives your marketing plan shape, just like a physical framework gives a building shape, or a skeleton could have given the blobfish a more defined physique.

This is marketing without a framework.

What exactly does a marketing framework encompass?

A marketing framework is essentially how you plan to execute your marketing strategy.

This means that PEST and SWOT analysis are not part of the marketing framework.

“PEST” comes at the earliest stage of your marketing plan. It sets the scene for your marketing efforts:

“SWOT” is also a pre- marketing-framework activity. It’s like a character assessment of your brand that helps you understand how equipped your business is to perform in the current market environment.

Based on PEST and SWOT analysis, you would then develop long-term business goals. Nested within those core goals are shorter-term goals.

Your marketing framework organizes those long- and short-term goals into a well-defined set of stages and processes.

Content strategy, the social channels you use to promote and distribute your content, and all of the other marketing tactics that support your specific goals should be accounted for in your marketing framework.

What are some examples of marketing frameworks?

Many a marketing framework already exist, and you’re not obligated to use one in particular. Your organization might even switch among frameworks at various stages of its development.

And often, the best marketing frameworks are tailor-made for your organization based on your current long-term marketing goals.

With that in mind, let’s review three of the most commonly used marketing frameworks.

1. The inbound marketing sales funnel

Often referred to as the content marketing framework, the inbound marketing sales funnel creates a systematic flow of inbound leads. It uses content to engage users at every stage of the customer journey from brand awareness all the way through purchasing:

content ideas

The overarching goal of inbound marketing is to automate the marketing funnel. As evidenced from the diagram above, there are multiple short-term goals involved at each stage of the funnel. All of them are priorities, but within a given company, some may be in more dire need of TLC than others.

Every modern organization relies on inbound marketing, also known as pull marketing, to some extent. If your business has a website, then it’s technically practicing inbound marketing.

If that website has a blog, resource center or some other value-add content, then you’re also practicing content marketing.

Again, there is no single “best” marketing framework – and even our representation of the inbound marketing and sales funnel is merely a template for guidance, not an exhaustive, step-by-step guide for your organization (only you can provide that).

Still, this is the most precise marketing framework when it comes to executing the digital marketing component of your marketing plan. It provides a roadmap for generating traffic with paid and organic content, lead nurturing, boosting conversion rates and ultimately turning potential customers into brand advocates through various forms of digital engagement.

2. The 7 Ps of the marketing mix

For years, this was known as the 4 Ps of marketing. The original Ps were Product, Price, Promotion and Place, which are explained in the image below:

However, three more Ps have been added in recent years:

5. People: Your brand needs access to experts who can spearhead your marketing campaigns, execute them, evaluate their performance and pivot as needed.

6. Process: The delivery of your product or service – as well as how well you support the customer’s needs with the appropriate resources and online user experience – will ultimately affect the customer experience.

7. Physical evidence: Think of this as any form of tangible confirmation that your brand is adhering to its values – confirmation emails, PDFs, invoices, packaging, etc.

The 7 Ps can be exceptionally useful for helping you answer some of the more open-ended questions associated with product marketing and your brand, and for that reason, it’s a worthwhile exercise.

But it’s not quite as precise as the inbound-marketing model.

The best way to think of the 7 Ps is as a product marketing framework since it also covers pricing, product features and other qualities that typically precede a content marketing strategy. It covers some elements of the execution of your strategy, but it attempts to be a little more all-encompassing.

3. The Pragmatic Marketing framework

This is the Pragmatic Marketing Framework created by Pragmatic Institute. It is also more of a product marketing framework than just a marketing framework.

It’s perhaps even more all-encompassing than the 7 Ps in the sense that it also covers some of the same ground as PEST and SWOT analysis.

As you can clearly see, the left side of the framework focuses on strategy development. But as you move to the right, the framework becomes more about execution of that strategy.

For example, buyer personas, awareness, nurturing and advocacy, for instance, are important terms in content marketing:

  • Buyer personas (or customer personas) help you understand your target audience before you begin creating content.
  • Awareness is the highest level of the inbound marketing sales funnel.
  • Nurturing is what you do in the middle to boost interest and intent to buy.
  • Advocacy comes after purchase. It refers to user-generated content that praises your brand on social media, influencer marketing, case studies and testimonials, word-of-mouth and other forms of advocacy from satisfied customers and industry influencers.

Clearly, the inbound marketing sales funnel has some common ground with the Pragmatic Marketing Framework.

Starting to see some overlap between frameworks? Don’t let it confuse you

All marketing frameworks are basically just trying to visualize your marketing efforts.

Some dip more into the product roadmap and business side of things than others, but all of them are trying to do the same thing: Help you structure your marketing campaigns.

Again, some of these pre-made templates may be more or less applicable to your brand, and your vision for marketing within your organization.

You may not need a marketing template to help your business plan or your market problems. Instead, you might just want to use the right side of the Pragmatic Marketing Framework:

That’s fine.

The best, most helpful marketing framework for your business depends on factors like your organizational structure, your resources, your market, whether you’re an online-only business, etc.

Like pirates, marketers have no laws – just selective guidelines.

How to build a template for your own marketing framework

Instead of giving you another template to pore over, we’ll provide a set of steps that can help you create your own template for your marketing framework.

For the purposes of this exercise, we’ll assume you don’t have much sway in terms of product development.

You’ve been given magic beans. Now you need to go out there, make people aware that you’re selling them, and make a case for why they should care:

1. Identify long- and short-term marketing goals

The long-term goal is to sell magic beans. The short-term goals within that might be to build awareness of your magic beans, or to increase the number of people who request a demonstration. Make sure you identify clear metrics to use as KPIs and to measure ROI.

2. Pinpoint your buyers and your influencers

Buyers are decision-makers. Influencers influence decision-makers. The head of accounting may be the one who signs off on the magic beans, but her team members might be the ones who have the most to gain from them.

3. Create detailed personas for those buyers and influencers

Personas will help you figure out more about who these individuals are, what they value, the technology they use and the types of messaging that resonates with them.

4. Figure out what channels they use

Content distribution channels should be selected based on audience personas, but also your goals. Pick the marketing channels that will get the right content in front of the right audience at the right time.

5. Decide what content you’ll post on those channels

Content should be tailored to that channel. If the channel is organic search (Google) you need blog posts, landing pages and other written content that’s optimized to rank for keywords related to magic beans.

6. Choose how you’ll promote that content

Search engine optimization is one way to promote your content on search engines, for example. Google Ads is another. A third is to cross-promote content that lives on your website through email, and through the social media channels that your target personas use.

7. Know exactly what you want your audience to do next

When someone consumes your content, make sure you know exactly where you want them to go next – another blog post, a demo signup page, directly to the magic bean store, etc. – and that you incorporate strategic calls-to-action that implore them to take that action.

8. Compile everything you know about steps one through seven

You have your long- and short-term marketing goals, target audience, your distribution channels, your content types for those channels, your promotion method, your desired action and your metrics.

9. Make your template

Use a table, a flow chart, a graph, an interactive graphic, a story board, etc. that visually represents your marketing framework. You can make it as detailed or high-level as you like.

10. Execute

Go out there and use your marketing framework to sell those magic beans.

If all else fails?

We already created a strategic marketing template.

It’s not exactly a step-by-step framework, but it can certainly help you outline much of the information you’ll need to make one of your own.

Check it out, fill it in and get to selling those magic beans.

Dominick Sorrentino is a senior writer in Chicago. He's a wordsmith who endeavors to use language, story-telling and creativity to solve problems. He enjoys pizza, the musical styling of A Tribe Called Quest, traveling, a good conversation and, of course, putting pen to paper.