Create a marketing growth strategy

Based on The Expert Guide to Creating a Marketing Growth Strategy by Tom Whatley

The reality is that we don’t know what our customers want most of the time.

In a competitive, fast-paced environment, to fail fast is to win. The goal is to test ideas intentionally and get answers quickly, then iterate and continuously improve. This philosophy comes from The Lean Startup methodology, which relies on testing hypotheses to better understand your customers’ pain points and goals.

Running experiments allows you to test what you think you know about your customers, rather than investing time, resources, and budget into an idea that ends up not yielding results.

Each experiment helps you learn more about your customers and generate foundational data for future experiments and marketing efforts. In this way, they are continuous feedback loops that help you find the message and marketing approaches that will achieve your growth goals.


Choose a marketing growth strategy.

Choose from:

  • Market penetration: Leverage new tactics to increase product sales.
  • Market development: Take existing products into new markets.
  • Product development: Develop a new product for an audience.
  • Diversification: Pursue a new product or market.

Work with other departments in your organization to identify your goals and resources.

Get buy-in and cooperation from all departments. Get information about the company’s revenue, market share, and goals from its leadership - typically the C-suite.

Map the touchpoints on your customer journey and relate each one to a marketing funnel stage.

A common framework for defining your growth model is Dave McClure’s Pirate Metrics for startups, AARRR framework that splits growth into a 5-step funnel:

  • Acquisition: Generating leads and new users. Channels might include SEO, social media, and email marketing.
  • Activation: Increasing product usage and improving customer experience. Such as a brand website, product demos, and free trials.
  • Retention: Reducing churn and encouraging repurchasing. Such as email marketing, reminders, and push alerts.
  • Referrals: Encouraging brand advocacy. Such as rewards programs, contests, and email marketing campaigns.
  • Revenue: Turning leads into customers. Such as paid advertising, lead generation, and direct sales.

For each touchpoint on your customer journey, identify the channel that will come through, and list the channels you use for each funnel stage.

Pick metrics that relate to your business’s KPIs. Use these to identify stages of the AARRR framework where you should focus your efforts.

Map out your ideal customer journey, focusing on adding missing touchpoints. Ensure you have at least one channel for each touchpoint.

Remove channels that are obsolete and focus on new channels that better serve your customer experience. Those gaps can feed into your growth strategy by helping you identify the opportunities that exist for product or marketing development. Do this exercise regularly, such as quarterly or semi-annually.

Explore the quantitative data from your marketing funnel model.

Your goals should be motivating, rewarding, achievable, and accountable. Start by exploring the data to understand your areas of opportunity, prioritize them based on what the data tells you. For example, you could be driving a ton of traffic to your website, but your visitors are failing to convert.

If you have insufficient qualitative data, collect qualitative data. You can do this by talking to your customers, and conducting surveys and focus groups.

Build a strategic quarterly plan with clearly defined objectives and key results.

Your objective should be a high-level qualitative goal, like increasing monthly active users or growing referrals.

For example, if your goal is to increase monthly active users, your key result could be to achieve 500,000 monthly active users by the end of Q1, up from your current baseline of 450,000 users.

Run campaigns and experiments to better understand how you can achieve your growth goals.

  • Design your experiment.
  • Ship your experiment.
  • Analyze your experiment.
  • Automate and scale OR learn and redesign.

Experiment with growth marketing campaigns,