This is the second entry in my journal documenting my first 90 days as a VP of Marketing at Mindspace. You can find the first entry here.
Week 2 — Frameworks and Research
September in Israel has only 13 business days, and my week-2 included only two business days due to Rosh Hashana (the Jewish New Year). However, I spent most of it reading and thinking. My goal for the week was to finalize the framework for how to approach the marketing audit and how to organize my on-boarding process. Following the playbook outlined in the First 90 Days, my goal for the first few weeks is to evaluate and ensure the alignment (or lack thereof) among five components on the marketing team.
Strategy -> Structure -> Systems -> Skills -> Culture.
For the team to operate efficiently, these elements need to be in concert. In case they are not (and that’s usually the case), I will need to define and align them, simultaneously. For the evaluation part, I needed a framework that can help me organize my findings and then communicate them to the team and the rest of the leadership team.
I considered two options: a functional rundown framework, and a strategic overview framework. The functional rundown framework is a fancy name I gave a simple process — I meet, learn and audit each existing marketing function and I summarize my observations, findings and recommendations based on those functions. It’s easier to follow and explain, and it’s much easier to coordinate since you don’t need to bother people multiple times. The downside of this framework is that it’s reliant on what exists and not what should be in place. But it’s faster than the other framework I evaluated.
The strategic overview framework is another fancy name I came up with to describe a framework that takes a more holistic/strategic approach to the audit. It evaluates the marketing functions through the lens of what components should be in place. The challenges with this framework are that it takes longer to complete and it assumes that there are some universal principle to marketing. It’s also more theoretical and pseudo-academic which can cause some people an allergic reaction.
Obviously, I went with the pseudo-academic and much harder one.
First of all, because I love frameworks. They help, well, frame your work, and when you’re dealing with a lot of information, frameworks help you organize the information and place it where it makes the most sense. Additionally, the right framework helps with “sense making” both for you and for your audience, and creates a common language that increases efficiency and speed. Finally, it helps define not only what is in, but even more importantly, what is not relevant. Since we’re wired to think and look for patterns, we use frameworks all the time. For example, in demand generation we use the funnel as the most acceptable framework to describe movement of customers through stages in their buying process. You can’t have two demand gen marketers meet without the funnel being mentioned at least once.
However, a common mistake is to try to force reality into your framework. Frameworks are designed to help you make sense of the world around you, not to make it fit your framework. So flexibility in choosing the right framework and in how you use it is important.
The Strategic Overview Framework
This framework comes all the way from my marketing professor who taught us this framework in my first marketing class. And when I say taught, I mean brainwashed. This framework simplifies all of marketing theory into these concepts, which makes it both powerful and memorable (the brainwashing also helped). I since have used it in various formats and versions in almost every marketing role I had.
(I apologize in advance for the poor design on this slide. My professor was a great teacher and marketer, but an awful designer.)
On the left side we have the Situation Analysis, also known as the 5 C’s. You start with analyzing the 5 component that will help define your objectives and later the strategy and go to market — Context (that’s the market and market forces), Customers (market size, addressable market, serviceable market, market share and other customer characteristics), Company (your current situation, employees, assets, etc.), Collaborators and Competitors. The output of this analysis can be summarized in the form of SOWT, yet another famous framework, that covers your Strengths, Opportunities, Weakness and Threats.
The middle part of this framework is the audience analysis in which you research and evaluate the Segments in the market, choose (or evaluate) your Target audience, and define your positioning and the value proposition. This work should lead to your Go To Market (GTM) strategy as represented on the right side of the framework by the 4 P’s (feel free to read more about 4 P’s and the new additional P’s here and everywhere else you can Google).
The GTM review should focus on all the P’s, but in my case, it will focus primarily on Promotion and Places — where do we sell our product and how we promote it. This should include the channels, tactics, process, measurement and optimization, and other factors of the tactical work the team is doing in launches and day-to-day.
Finally, and possibly the most important for me in the next few weeks, the framework asserts that the entire marketing strategy and GTM should adhere and be inline with the brand, as the umbrella that covers the entire framework. Auditing the brand and the work on the brand will include answering questions such as what is the current brand recognition and awareness in our market? What are the key brand attributes? What should they be? What are the current brand assets? What should they be? What is the approach to building the brand?
From Framework to Activities
Having the framework in place also allows me to outline my on-boarding process better and plan the next few weeks of learning. While it seems very clean and organized, learning is not as linear and my process feels more like osmosis than following a recipe . I like to immerse myself in the information and let it “flow” through me. Having the framework in place will allow me to categorize the information and place it where it makes the most sense and will be easier to recall and find when it’s needed.
I spent the last week reading, I have a lot more reading to do in the coming weeks. Since Yom Kippur is next week, I will have enough time to catch up on a lot of it.