How to craft a digital marketing strategy in six easy to follow steps. This is part of a larger youtube video series, Episode 6 of my show, you can watch the Youtube video here (if you prefer over reading this article):



The level of this guide is definitely more in the intermediate-to-advanced range.

However, anyone can really dive in and get after it if they simply follow the steps (however creating a storyline, ideas, themes, comms, messaging, etc. will be difficult).


You’ve watched my last few videos on how to start your company in 5 easy steps, or how to create a business plan – now it’s time to focus on building a strategy for marketing your products.  



Digital Marketing Strategy and Marketing Strategy are one in the same

Before we begin, NOTE: the word digital is crossed out.

Why? I happen to share the opinion of advertisers out there that feel the word digital really represents tactics. Coming up with a traditional marketing strategy vs. a digital marketing strategy is, or should be one in the same.


Brad Jakeman, president of Pepsico said this:

he called digital marketing the “most ridiculous term I’ve ever heard.” He added: “There is no such thing as digital marketing. There is marketing — most of which happens to be digital.’


Marcus Mustafa, head of Global User Experience @ Digitas LBi said this:

So we remove the word “digital” and we have an new understanding and away we go:


  1. Step # 1 – Conduct a situational Analysis

The point here is to measure what you’re doing well, what you’re not doing well. Where can improvements be made, and what do team members or your clients and their belief of your weak points in the market.  At the very least answer these questions.

IF you’d like to go further and really kick this first step into gear, do a full blow SWOT analysis, or detail Porters Forces, or drill out the 5 Cs of your business.

If you’re looking for something quick and dirty, simply answer the questions. Want to do a full on analysis? Pick a methodology and get to work.


  1. Step #2 – Define what your marketing needs to accomplish for you. What are your business objectives?

You really want to get to what it is your company solves for its consumers. Define this problem and write down what success looks like it solving this problem. Put on paper what KPIs (key performance indicators) are your goals for the first few months, 6 months, a year, and beyond. What does success look like for your marketing efforts?

To really make this a special step in the process, be sure to integrate your company mission, vision, and values. Frame success in this light. If you are tying back everything you’re doing not only in your marketing strategy, put your business back to a higher purpose, these efforts become so much more inspirational to all involved.


  1. Step #3 – Document your target market and audience

You would have touched a bit on this if you did a full on situations analysis in step 1, OR in a larger organization, you will have a marketing plan that includes this information.

We’re talking about where you’re targeting specifically in this strategy. Maybe it’s a small niche of the market. Put the demographics, psychographics, and ethnographics you are going after, or want to target.

And be sure to loop in the consumer plight.

Not only does this help you later when you want to build a story around solving the consumer’s problem, but defining exactly what the consumer is going through is an extremely helpful exercise for everyone. Involved.

And build personas for your target audience. Susie soccer mom, bobby teenager. You’re learning about your target audience’s culture, behaviors, where they live and more… put that into a tangible character


  1. Step# 4 – Gather research, confirm assumptions.

You’ve probably done some ancillary research to conduct the first 3 steps, but lets spend some time dedicated to this activity.

The goal is to 1) verify your initial assumptions. And 2) build an insight (or multiple) that will really be the driver behind your strategy.

There are some free tools out there:

Free marketing research tools

  • setup google news sections,
  • google search alerts,
  • search google scholar for studies in your industry.
  • Use insights and blogs of major players like comScore and forrestor.
  • Shopify, adweek, adage, mashable can all be mined for information.
  • The US census data website is grouping consumer data in better and better ways.
  • Be sure to sure your own industy trade publications (online and off)… there possibilities are endless.

If you come up with clever free marketing research tools, drop a line @jthebruce on social, or


Not so free marketing research tools I use;

  • Mintel,
  • WSJ,
  • ReferenceUSA,
  • IbisWorld,
  • Simmons OneView,
  • ComScore,
  • Forrestor,
  • Gartner,
  • Statista,
  • pew research, and more…


And while you’re conducting all this fantastic research to build a guiding insight, make sure you’re using future-forward thinking. A term I use to describe being aware of what your consumers and the industry are going, and how the research you’re compiling plays into the future.


  1. Step #5 Actually document the strategy, tactical execution plan, and the tactics.

The Strategy is the why and what.

The tactical plan is the who and when

The tactics are the how and where.

… and it’s all lead by the guiding insight you came up with in the previous step.

Think of it like this, in a military context.

    • In IRAQ, the strategy might be: We’re going to re-capture Mosul, Iraq back from ISIS rebels to reestablish peace to the region and to the Iraqi people because it’s part of the mission of the United States to follow through on our commitments made by past Presidential administrations. It also ties into important promises, and long-held values we hold dear in the United States to bring peace in the middle east.
    • This is the story, theme, ideas, comms and messaging, tone, voice and more.
    • The example mission tactical plan: is the cadence (schedule), composition, and measurements for success for releasing certain tactics. What is the formation of our infantry (what are the entry points for the attack), at what point in time does each group commence marching into the city and begin the push of ISIS forces out of the city. What does that schedule look like over time?, what is the composition of the infantry (are half of the men Iraqi police forces, 30% NATO, and 20% American)?
    • Success = Iraqi forces control 100% of the city.  IT’s going to cost us $X dollars and executed in Y Phases. And we should start on October 30th 2020.
    • This is the overall plan, the editorial/content calendars, the budget, the media schedule.
    • The  tactics: are the how we go about reaching the who and where (including the tools/techniques we’ll use).E.g. Using a combination of trained Iraqi police forces,  intel on enemy movements in the area, flanking infantry groups, air support, translation teams, and re-established supply routes as we (at certain locations) to execute the tactical plan.
    • This is the selecting of tactics, aka the disciplines or channels. Paid, SEO, TV, print/collateral. It’s one of the sections that will change the most as you execute and learn. You’ll need to adjust in real time.

Building the strategy is the combining of these details (created in no specific order) in a centralized fashion (a presentation, document, whatever).


  1. Step #6: Execute the plan

Implement your project plan with the intent to change. Constantly monitor the data, adjust your tactics in real-time based on learnings.

I suggest adjusting them weekly or monthly. Worst case scenario is quarterly, but please don’t go beyond quarterly.

Use a learning system approach

  1. Create the plan
  2. detail how you’re going to execute the plan
  3. define success, which includes the KPIs
  4. execute on the plan
  5. analyze, learn, monitor daily, weekly, or monthly, and optimize
  6. Adjust the plan… rinse and repeat.


END: And that’s how you create and execute a marketing strategy



Included below are links to download a template in Microsoft Word you can follow to creating a strategy from scratch.

There is also a handy infographic detailing the steps if you want to go solo:

INFOGRAPHIC - How to create a marketing strategy in six steps

PDF: INFOGRAPHIC – How to create a marketing strategy in six steps


If you do create your own keynote or ppt execution (or some other execution) based on these steps in the infographic or this video, please reach out and let me know on SM @jthebruce or on the Facebook community.


If you have any comments and suggestions, don’t hesitate to reach out…

Twitter: @jthebruce

Instagram: @jthebruce

Facebook: The bruce show

My professional linked in:



 The Perfect Pitch – Jon Steele (on amazon)



Check out the last episode: the 5 easy steps to create your own business. If you’ve completed this step, you’ll have a head start on the other 4.