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Building Your Marketing Stack

by Randall Craig on October 2, 2015

Filed in: Blog, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Marketing, Strategy

Tagged as: , , , , , ,

Most marketers think of themselves as builders. Their work grows the organization, grows market share, grows the portfolio of products and services. A bit more tactically, the marketer builds page views, conversions, and social engagement; underlying all of these activities, the marketer builds relationships.

But is there merit in growing marketing itself? Not the ad spend or departmental head count, but the number of simultaneous marketing initiatives that the organization can successfully run?

With tighter marketing budgets and a higher scrutiny of results, improved marketing effectiveness isn’t just a sufficient condition for success – it’s a critical necessary.

Unfortunately, many organizations have a marketing heritage based on campaign thinking. The agencies pitch a campaign, the client buys into the concept, and (hopefully) it is successful. Then this repeats. And repeats. And repeats. The fundamental problem with 90% of all campaigns is that they leave nothing behind. True, there is a positive brand bump, but at best there is only a short tail of changed behavior. That is, until the next campaign.

Instead, consider the concept of a marketing stack. The idea is to build autonomous continuing initiatives, one layer at a time. Sometimes, a layer can function on its own, in a “set and forget” mode. Other types of layers require care and feeding to maintain their effectiveness. The goal of the marketing stack is to build sustainable marketing capacity – not a time bound “campaign”.

Here is one example of layers in a marketing stack:

  1. An in-brand mobile-friendly website that is targeted at key audiences.
  2. Ecommerce capability to process orders and encourage cross-selling/upselling.
  3. Content strategy that attracts target audiences to the website (e.g. videos, white papers, articles, blog posts etc.).
  4. Social Media strategy to empower employees, business partners, and others to engage their networks with the organization’s message.
  5. Marketing automation system for lead collection and drip marketing.
  6. Integration between the Marketing Automation System and the CRM (customer relationship system).
  7. Development of a marketing analytics dashboard, to aggregate data and allow for improved decision-making.
  8. And so on.

Each layer in the stack is a project, with a beginning, middle, and end. But each layer builds enduring value long after the project to implement the layer has finished.

Only once the marketing stack is completed will the ROI of any campaign be maximized; in a certain sense, the marketing stack is a campaign multiplier.

Over time, changes in the organization’s strategy, business environment, client requirements, and competitive response will cause the effectiveness of certain layers in the stack to erode. For this reason, once the stack is built, the focus must change to optimization: Improved SEO, more relevant content, additional marketing automation sequences, social media community building, mobile, etc.

This week’s action plan: Are you stuck in a “campaign thinking” rut, or are you a marketing builder? This week, identify which layers of your marketing stack need to be optimized – or created.  And if you haven’t defined your stack fully, then that is where you should start.

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Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)



Randall has been advising on Digital Strategy since 1994 when he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail's GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations. He is the author of eight books, including Digital Transformation for Associations, the Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business, and Social Media for Business. He speaks and advises on Digital Transformation, Digital Trust, and Social Media. More at

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