• 1. Marketing Amplifies a Strong Value Proposition
    Great marketing can't make up for a weak customer value proposition.

  • 3. The Marketing Campaign
    The output of any marketing strategy should be a killer campaign.

  • 2. Understand your Target Customer & Funnel
    Focus your marketing on target customers and funnel opportunities for big returns.

  • 4. Message, Media Mix, and Test & Learn
    At the core of great marketing teams is a focus on improving the message, media mix, and test & learn.


Great marketing starts with a strong customer value proposition. No amount of marketing can overcome a weak value proposition. Too often, leadership blames marketing for the ills of a company, when in fact, the real cause is a weak value proposition.

If you start with a great value proposition, then an effective marketing strategy can amplify that proposition to the target customers and unleash the growth potential of a company.

Marketing Value Proposition

A value proposition is the rational and emotional benefits customers get from products and services minus the price they pay, within the relative context of competitors' value propositions.

Customer Value Proposition

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Since 1967, Southwest Airlines has focused on being the best low-fare, great-service airline in the market. Their "Transfarency" campaign and messaging focus on amplifying the rational differentiation of their value proposition, which is low fares and no extra fees. They also have an extensive network of point-to-point routes to efficiently get you from point A to point B, along with the highest on-time lost baggage scores. The success of their business model and marketing has led them to become the largest domestic airline in the U.S., flying over 350,000 passengers a day.

Southwest Fees

The flipside of Southwest's campaigns is their "Love" messaging that focuses on their great service, people, and other benefits that are better than the competition. This taps into the emotional side of their customer value proposition and is backed up by their highest customer satisfaction and quality ratings.

Strong messaging is amplified through marketing channels

Marketing is simply messaging amplified through marketing channels. There are four main types of marketing channels. Ranking them by typical ROI, they are advocacy channels, owned channels, distribution channels, and paid channels. The details of these channels are below.

Marketing Channels Framework


Nothing beats customers telling other people about how awesome your products and services are.


While every company has their own marketing assets, very few realize their potential.


Bringing marketing to life in distribution channels is key, but too often overlooked.


Typically expensive, but often necessary to drive awareness and consideration for potential customers.


Southwest consistently brings its "Transfarency" and "Love" messaging to life through advocacy channels, owned media, and paid channels. Interestingly, they don't utilize 3rd party distribution (e.g., Expedia, Travel Agents), to compress their value chain and cost structure, and pass those savings onto customers in the form of lower fares.

Southwest Marketing Strategy

Strategic Marketing Improves Customer Purchase Funnel Effectiveness

At the core of an effective marketing strategy is an understanding of the gaps and opportunities across a company's customer purchase funnel. Campaigns and programs are strategically deployed to improve customer awareness, consideration, conversion, loyalty, and advocacy, which ultimately drive growth.

Marketing Purchase Funnel

Southwest's marketing improve their purchase funnel

Southwest utilizes paid channels to drive customer awareness and consideration, owned media to drive consideration, conversion, and loyalty, and advocacy channels to primarily drive loyalty and advocacy. When Southwest opens up in a new city, they ratchet up their paid channel spend (e.g., billboards, events, online, and TV ads) to drive awareness.

Southwest Marketing Strategy Examples

test & learn programs can continuously improve ROI

Testing and learning from various combinations of messaging, media, timing is how top marketing teams drive the ROI on their advertising budget and their team's scarce resources. To learn more, read our sections on experimentation and hypotheses.

Improving a Customer Funnel

A marketing strategy has two main outputs

1st Output - Marketing Campaigns

The first output of a marketing strategy is a campaign. A campaign is made up of target customers, goals, messaging, creative, media mix, a budget, and a calendar. Campaigns define the "what" a marketing team delivers. The more a campaign can uniquely communicate and amplify the differentiation of a value proposition to the right target customers through cost-effective channels, the more the marketing will drive growth.

Campaign Strategy Template

2nd Output - Marketing Ops Strategy

The second output of a marketing strategy is a marketing ops strategy which outlines the overall goals and initiatives of the marketing team. The goals can be around the growth of marketing assets (e.g., web traffic, social, loyalty program), ROI, sales, brand, and other metrics. The core initiatives focus on improving the organization, which is made up of processes, people, infrastructure, and partners.

Marketing Operations Strategy


Developing a Marketing Strategy

To create an effective marketing strategy, you should follow the four steps above. People often get stuck on how much effort needs to go into these four steps. For some teams, a few days of deep problem solving or integrating these four steps into their governance is the right answer. For some teams, when the stakes are high and the opportunities a bit nebulous, it may take a multi-month marketing strategy project to get to the right answer.

Step 1: Generate Insights

To create a successful campaign and marketing ops strategy, you need to immerse yourself in insights about your target customer(s), their customer journey, and your value proposition. It is almost impossible to create a killer campaign and marketing strategy without insights into customers, their journey, and the differentiation of the value proposition. As you and your team conduct analyses and generate insights, always focus on turning insights into potential marketing strategies and campaign ideas.

Target Customer Insights

Target Customers

Who is your target customer(s)? What is important to them? What drives them to buy? What is their media profile/consumption?

Typical analyses include:
- Customer Surveys / Polls
- Customer Segmentation Analysis
- Customer Reviews

Customer Journey Insights

Customer Funnel

What is the typical purchase path, and decision criteria? What are the customer funnel metrics and gaps vs. competition?

Typical analyses and tools used include:
- Customer & Brand Surveys
- Ethnography
- Brainstorming

Value Proposition Insights

What is the differentiation of the value proposition? What is the perception of the value prop versus competitors?

Typical customer research tools include:
- Customer Reviews
- Customer Surveys
- Focus Groups

Step 2: Baseline

The best marketing teams continually improve their marketing assets and campaign ROI, while leveraging ever-evolving novel techniques and technologies. To improve, first baseline the marketing assets, the ROI of campaigns, and marketing trends.

Campaign ROI

Campaign ROI

How have previous campaigns been measured, and performed? What are the top historical campaigns? Why?

Typical analyses include:
- ROI Analysis
- A / B Testing

Marketing Trends

What are the marketing trends and innovations in the market? Where is their white space in the market to own?

Typical analyses include:
- Competitive Analysis
- Trend Analysis
- Brainstorming

Step 3: Develop Campaign

Once you've generated strategic insights and baselined your marketing, it is time to get the creative juices flowing by developing a campaign. The ultimate output of any strong marketing strategy is a great campaign that will strategically grow and improve the conversion of the steps in the customer purchase funnel (i.e., awareness, consideration, conversion, loyalty, and advocacy). The three elements of a great campaign include the campaign goals, creative messaging, the media mix & calendar.

Campaign Goals


What are the strategic goals of the campaign? What are the financial budget and high-level ROI / success metrics?

Typical analyses include:
- Brainstorming
- Problem Solving
- Prioritization

Marketing Assets

Marketing Assets

What are the marketing assets (customer data, website, emails, fb, etc.)? How are they growing, performing, engaging?

Typical analyses include:
- Internal Trend & Seasonality Analysis
- Correlation Analysis

The Message

What is the core creative messaging to best amplify the value proposition for target customers? How will the creative live across all marketing assets?

Typical analyses include:
- Creative Concepting by Creative People
- Test & Learn
- Focus Groups

Media Mix / Calendar

Media Mix Calendar

What high ROI media mix best matches the customer journey and funnel gaps? What is the campaign calendar?

Typical analyses include:
- Media Mix Modeling
- Customer Journey Mapping / Surveys
- Brainstorming / Problem Solving


You should encapsulate a great campaign, into a one-page plan that synthesizes the customer target, opportunities, goals, the differentiated messaging, creative, the campaign calendar by media channel, and overall budget.

Campaign Strategy Template

Step 4: Create the Marketing Ops Plan

Marketing operations is the engine that creates and executes campaigns. Developing a marketing ops plan to drive the efficiency and effectiveness of the organization will improve marketing ROI and impact. A marketing ops plan covers the improvement initiatives covering the marketing team's processes, people, partners, and infrastructure.

People & Team Improvement
What initiatives will help improve and realize the potential of the marketing team?

Typical analyses include:
- People Leadership Toolkit
- Employee Survey
- Employee Lifecycle Analysis

Partners & Infrastructure Improvement
What are the infrastructure and partner initiatives needed to improve marketing efficiency and effectiveness?

Typical analyses include:
- IT & Infrastructure Portfolio Analysis
- Brainstorming & Prioritization
- Cost Benefit Analysis

Marketing Process Optimization
How can the efficiency and effectiveness of marketing processes, projects, governance, and analysis be improved?

Typical analyses include:
- Process Toolkit
- Project Toolkit
- Analytics Toolkit

The Marketing Ops Strategy One-Pager

Synthesizing your marketing ops strategy into a simple one-pager will help you prioritize, communicate and execute your strategy. The one-pager should cover the baseline and goals for the key metrics, and the core initiatives necessary to achieve the goals.

Marketing Ops Strategy Template

the last thoughts on marketing strategy

Great marketing has the potential to supercharge the growth of a strong value proposition by amplifying the value to the target customers. As you develop a marketing strategy, always focus on the outputs of creating a strong campaign and marketing ops plan, that is grounded in insights and analytics, and differentiated through creative messaging and constant testing and learning to optimize messaging, media mix, and timing. If you need to develop a marketing strategy  set up some time with me and we'll start figuring it out together. And, check out our guide on digital marketing strategy.


To get you started on creating killer marketing strategies, download the PowerPoint marketing templates, which include:
1. Campaign Template
2. Excel Marketing Calendar
3. Marketing Ops Strategy One-Pager

 Learn more about Joe Newsum, the author of all this free content and a McKinsey Alum. I provide a suite of coaching and training services to realize the potential in you, your team, and your business. Learn more about me and my coaching philosophy.
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