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The Five M’s of Marketing Success
By: Eric McDermott,

Do you have a huge line of folks knocking down your door to buy from you? Neither do most of us. That’s why marketing is so crucial.

But if it seems that traditional marketing is getting harder, it’s because it is. Things are changing fast. Yet, in my more than 25 years of marketing—from traditional media for Fortune 500 companies to creating 400,000 plus followers on my own TikTok account—one formula for creating effective marketing campaigns has not changed. I call it my “Five M’s of marketing,” and you may find it comforting to know that no matter how many things change in marketing, these foundational aspects won’t.

What Is Marketing?

Before we attempt to describe a successful marketing campaign, let’s bust some common myths and hype around marketing. Many folks trick themselves into thinking things like social media, print, digital, mail and email are marketing, but really those are just marketing channels. Ads, swag, videos or posts aren’t marketing either, but rather just marketing materials.

So what is marketing? Marketing is the skill of getting others to want what you have to offer.

So how do you employ the skill of getting others to want what you have to offer? Campaigns. When someone wants your vote, it’s called a political campaign. When someone wants to influence your opinion, it’s called a PR campaign. When businesses want you to buy something, it’s often called an advertising campaign.

The best campaign framework I’ve found is the Five M’s of marketing. These Five M’s have not changed even though so much about marketing has. They are:

1. Market

Who is your intended market? A study by Deloitte reveals that customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable than those not focused on customers. Knowing your target market is crucial. Be specific and focus on their current problems or future opportunities. If you say everyone’s your market, then you’ll need a Super Bowl-sized ad spend to reach them all. If you have more than one, create different campaigns for each of them. For each, list what the customers care about. You’ll either want to focus on a current problem or a future opportunity.

2. Message

Believe it or not, it doesn’t matter what you say. It matters how other people hear it, which is why you craft your messages to aim at the specific concerns of your market in words that show you get them. Here are the four fundamental messages I suggest you nail down for each market.

• What help you provide.

• Who you are.

• How to engage you.

• What to expect.

3. Method

Follow someone on social media, and people appreciate it. Follow someone in person and you might get a restraining order. The method matters. Here are examples:

• TV/radio ads

• In-person meetings

• Social media posts

• Websites

• Events

• Email lists

Good campaigns often use multiple methods, not just one. Perhaps a social post leads to an email, which in turn leads to a meeting. Which ones do your specific markets pay the most attention to? If you can target your audience in a specific way, with a message that aligns with their wants/needs and through a medium where they are most likely to listen, you’ll have the best chance of reaching them.

4. Metrics

We only manage what we measure. It’s almost always going to be a measure of quantity, quality or timing. Don’t confuse the measures of activity, like how many emails you send, with measures of productivity, like how many orders you got. You want to measure both. Define what you call success ahead of time.

5. Make It A Practice

Remember, marketing is a skill. Practice makes all skills better. So list your action steps, put them in your calendar or reminders app, and it’s not a practice till you set it to repeat—most likely daily or weekly.

Past The Fundamentals

Once you’ve nailed down your Five M’s, you’ve got the fundamental framework for a successful campaign. To home in on the specifics, it’s important to ask yourself what are your intentions for the marketing campaign. This can help you better understand what a successful campaign looks like.

Do you intend to attract new customers or existing customers? Do you intend to actively reach out to folks directly? That’s outbound marketing. Or do you plan to passively market with the intention that someone sees it and reaches out to you? That’s inbound marketing. You’re probably going to need both.

So if you’re looking to actively reach out to new customers, then you’ll need to craft a prospecting campaign, but if you’re actively reaching out to existing customers, then you’re intending to do an upsell or cross-sell campaign. This often involves a discount or benefit for the customer to try a different or upgraded product or service.

How about passive marketing for new customers? This means you need to create awareness, validation or PR campaigns—like many social media posts, websites, drip campaigns or SEO. And if it’s for existing customers, you’d want to craft an ongoing relations campaign. This is crucial if repeat business is important to you.

Starting with the Five M’s framework and keeping your desired outcome in mind is likely to make your marketing campaigns far more successful.