Producing a return-on-investment from your marketing can be tough. To get it right, you need to:

  • Know your business objectives
  • Have a plan
  • Quantify your results
  • Qualify your results
  • Test, test and test some more
  • Find out what’s working and do more of it
  • Find out what’s not working and either improve it, or get rid of it

This is much easier said than done. In my view, the best way to overcome complexity in your marketing is to incorporate visual models that represent how you think and what you do to turn your marketing into an ROI producing engine.

I’m going to show you the 3 Pillars of Marketing model that I use during the planning and evaluation stages to assure the investments that are being made into marketing are worth it. This model is also a solid foundation for assuring that campaigns are effective and that budgets for labor and marketing channels are being used properly.

3 Pillars of Marketing

3 Pillars of Marketing

In your marketing, you’re either working on Brand Development, Content Development, or Channel Development. Here is a quick breakdown of each one.

Brand Development

A few examples:

  • Purpose
  • Mission
  • Vision
  • Values
  • Essence
  • Imagery
  • Tone of Voice
  • Market Research
  • Competitive Advantage
  • Brand Story
  • Worldview of Buyers
  • Contract of Expectations
  • Innovation

These are just a few of many branding elements that you need to work on in order for the other 2 pillars in your marketing to produce the output you want (e.g. more customers, etc.). The work you put into developing your brand should be put into a written Brand Strategy document that defines each and every key branding element.

In 2019, according to CNBC, Apple spent 7.9% of its annual revenue on Research and Development to combat the 12% decrease in iPhone sales from the year prior. In the world of the tech giants, competition is driving the need to focus on Brand Development and innovate in order to maintain their position in the market.

My point here is that you can’t just focus on improving your messaging, audience targeting, and advertising to grow. You might be spending dollars on a brand or product, that isn’t keeping up with what your customers demand. You need to continually invest time, attention, and energy into what makes your brand unique, relevant, and in demand.

Developing your brand isn’t something you do once. You are always building it.

When your thinking of a new idea, you’re doing Brand Development.

When you’re reading up on your competition, you’re doing Brand Development.

When you listening to your customers, you’re doing Brand Development.

Brand Development is the foundation behind everything you write, produce, and deliver in your marketing.

Content Development

A few examples:

  • Logo
  • Website
  • Print Materials
  • Social Media Posts
  • Blog
  • Videos
  • Community

When you have a strong Brand Strategy, you are now in a much better position to develop better content to influence your customers and get them to take your desired actions.

The key is to make sure the people managing your content have your Brand Strategy document in their hands and are following it intently. This is even more important if you are outsourcing your content development to a third party.

The work you put behind Brand Development is the heart of your brand. The work you put behind Content Development is the eyes, mouth, and ears of your brand. When both are working together, you’ll be in a much better position to maximize your ROI from money spent on getting people to interact with your content.

Channel Development

A few examples:

  • Google Ads
  • Facebook Ads
  • LinkedIn Ads
  • Organic Search
  • Sponsored Posts
  • Influencer Marketing

Channel Development focuses on all the steps required for your customers to buy from you. Below is a model that outlines the high-level steps in the marketing and sales funnel.

Channel Marketing Funnel

The time, attention, energy, and investment that goes into Channel Development is critical to experience ROI from your marketing. You need to employ people and systems that plan, execute, measure, and improve strategies along with each point in your marketing funnel.

Making Decisions that Improve ROI

Now that you have an understanding of what each pillar entails, you’ll be in a much better position to determine where you need to focus your time, attention, energy, and dollars.

You’ll open your mind to where the weaknesses are in your marketing and have a clearer view of where you need to focus to improve results.

One of the biggest mistakes I find businesses making is that they fail to evaluate all 3 pillars of their marketing to discover the root cause of their problems (e.g. declining sales, etc.).

I would say over 95% of the time businesses make a subjective opinion about weaknesses in areas under Channel Development.

For example:

“I don’t feel Facebook Ads are generating the volume of customers I need to justify the spend.”

“We just don’t find that Google Ads is working for us.”

“We tried boosting posts to get more people in here, but we don’t feel that it was worth it.”

It’s not to say there wouldn’t be weaknesses in how you are running your marketing channels (e.g. Facebook Ads, Google Ads, etc.), but there could be a root cause that’s sitting undiagnosed under Brand Development or Content Development that you haven’t considered yet.

Here is an example set of questions that considers all 3 pillars of marketing:

  • (Brand Development) Has demand declined for your product/service?
  • (Brand Development) Is the market for product/service becoming oversaturated with competitors?
  • (Brand Development) Are you positioning your brand properly in the market you serve?
  • (Brand Development) Why are people NOT doing business with you and why ARE they doing business with your competitors?
  • (Brand Development) What are the behavioral factors that influence customer decisions for your type of product/service?
  • (Content Development) What kind of content do your ideal customers consume?
  • (Content Development) How much time and research do customers put in before making a buying decision?
  • (Channel Development) Do you have the proper attribution model in place to track marketing activity?
  • (Channel Development) What key performance indicators (KPI’s) influence effectiveness in each stage of your marketing funnel (Awareness, Interest, Consideration, Nurturing, and Conversion)?

These are just a few of the many questions that will help diagnose problems in your marketing so you can address them and focus on the areas that are going to drive your business forward (e.g. product innovation, stronger reputation, increased traffic, etc.). You can do everything right in one pillar of your marketing (e.g. Channel Development), but fail because you didn’t diagnose and address underlining issues in the other pillars.

Again, getting marketing to “work” can be tough, but it doesn’t need to be. You just need to open your mind to the 3 pillars that make up your marketing and be willing to address them.


I believe you need to pour all your passion into something that you truly believe in. Marketing is to me what a cabinet is to a carpenter. It needs to be carefully planned, measured and executed using the right tools to get the finished product you want. You live for the end result. You treat your work as a craft, and not a job. Let's Connect →