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Digital Marketing
4 min

3 easy steps you can take today to transform your marketing and drive results

by Ben Magnuson September 14, 2020

Nine years ago, I had one of the best years of my life: I was able to afford cable (it was a different time). And cable meant HGTV.

Modern HGTV is a slog of renovation show after renovation show built around the idea that if your house doesn’t work for you, you should simply enter into a massive renovation and redesign. But HGTV back then was my favorite. Rather than tear-down rebuilds being the solution to everything, shows like The High Low Project and Trading Spaces underscored that smart design alone could completely transform a space and accomplish much of the homeowners’ wishes.

It’s a good lesson for today, especially when you consider the following statistics:

  • In a recent survey we conducted, over 50 percent the responding professional services, B2B and B2C marketers reported seeing their budgets decrease for the year. Forty-three percent of respondents instead have been required to reallocate budget to optimize their spend for the year.
  • A survey from the Fuqua School of Business from Duke University found that the percentage spend on marketing actually increased to 13 percent from 11 percent, even if it declined in absolute terms. At the same time, marketing leaders are coping with overall job losses of 9 percent.
  • Ad buying is expected to decline by 13 percent by in the next year.

Marketing’s budget has not been crippled, but it is now responsible for reaching customers in a radically different environment while also often emphasizing different products and services.

Additionally, this decline in budget and resourcing does not mean a decline in marketing purpose. Businesses still see marketing as a key tool to gain an edge over competitors, and there is pressure on marketing to perform with the budget and headcount it does have.

The good news is, the past decade has seen marketers make large improvements to their infrastructure, especially around technology. Improved performance can be found within the tools you’ve already made investments in by better designing their tasks around your customer’s buying journeys.

Taking a page from “OG” HGTV, here are three ways smart design can help you leverage what you already have to transform your marketing over the next 12 months.


Update your key audience personas

Whether you haven’t touched them since your last major redesign, or they are a major part of current operations, take a moment to evaluate the state of your Personas.

  • Are they still targeting the right audiences?
  • Are the goals aligned to them still accurate?
  • Is the research supporting them still relevant?

Although research may be difficult to start up in current times, at least evaluate if any of the report assumptions have changed and flag them.

If a new key audience has emerged, use what you have to fill in their persona, including key roles, preferences and geographies, and make a point to fill this in with research in the near future.


Map out persona buying cycles

Now that you have your key audiences up to date, map out the buying cycle for each one.

  • Identify key interactions that occur within each step of the buying cycle.
  • Fill in key content types used to engage with the audiences in each step.
  • Note any gaps where there is little supporting content or digital interactions.

This exercise will be helpful to identify where current strengths lie in supporting the persona’s journey through the buying cycle with appropriate digital interactions and content, and also discover areas where more help is needed.


Align your data

With the key digital interactions and content mapped to each stage of the buying cycle for each persona, write down what each interaction or piece of content is supposed to accomplish. Is it designed to spur contact with the business? Assist with research? Validate your product or service? Then identify a metric that supports the goal. Some of these may be weak proxies, and that’s okay–at least now you have identified areas in your analytics you will need to invest in building out in the future (and this post on identifying metrics that matter can help you do that).


With all of these steps completed, you’ll have a high-level reporting system identifying how each piece of your marketing is supporting key personas through their buying cycle. You’ll also be able to uncover areas where more content or process is needed, and refocus your marketing strategy to prioritize efforts based on their ability to impact and improve business. This is critical when communicating the importance of marketing to executive stakeholders and can help ensure it remains a priority during and after the pandemic–or any future crisis, for that matter.

The best part? You can accomplish all of this without a major addition of new technology, or the time, budget and resources that doing so would require. It may not be as shiny and fun to show off, but sometimes all you need for a good reveal is to make what you already have work better for your goals.

Ben Magnuson
Associate Director, Data Strategy

As Associate Director, Data Strategy at One North, Ben supports clients by applying a strong data focus to marketing initiatives across channels and tools. He starts by gaining an understanding of each client’s unique goals and tactics, and guides them toward a strategic analytics program. He focuses on the creation of a meaningful feedback loop to help support and steer decision-making.