A 3-step plan to boost your marketing creativity

Every marketing team or marketing manager kicks off a financial year with fresh challenges. “We need to increase revenue this year", “we need to save on marketing spend" or “there is no room for an additional team member"… As a marketeer, you’ve probably heard similar statements so many times before.

We all want better qualified leads, higher revenue, more visitors… from the B2B sales team that needs to meet its hard targets, to the e-commerce category manager who aims to sell as many products as possible on a weekly basis. In these times, where everything is tracked and measured, all eyes are fixed on the marketing department.

New marketing buzzwords like AI, hyperpersonalisation, growth hacking, big data, DMP’s, … are all screaming for our attention. But chances are that you work in an organisation, where getting a weekly newsletter ready for mail-out is already a race against time. Meetings, briefings, conference calls, answering questions from colleagues, and so much more… all while trying to manage your mailbox is a full-time job in itself. No wonder it’s tough to free up time for innovations and major marketing projects.

This is where bringing business back to its essence can help. Set up a clear 3-step roadmap and simplify the search for focus and valuable marketing initiatives.

STEP 1 | Brainstorming about fresh ideas

The best marketing initiatives are born from a well-defined strategy. For example, ask people about the purpose of their marketing strategy, and often you get the answer: “I want better conversion" or “I want more traffic to my site". And even though these are perfectly clear objectives, they have little to do with strategy. Strategy is about defining why you use a particular channel, which target group you want to reach and what you want to achieve with them. And here’s the good news about setting up a strategy: it doesn’t have to be all that complicated. At RAAK, we define strategy in just three short words: GET, TO and BY.

The method is actually based on three main questions. Which target group do you want to reach (GET), what do you want your target group to do (TO) and how are you going to convince them to do it (BY). Let’s visualize that by applying the principle to an online clothing retailer. The strategy could look something like this...

GET - female online shoppers between 18 and 30 years old, with an affinity for fashion. 
TO - see our brand as the number 1 online shop for affordable and fashionable clothing. 
BY - inspiring them with stylish outfits, endorsed by influencers.

OK, now let’s get creative!

Apply the above to your business and you’ll be amazed how simple it can be to summarize your business goals in a strategy. Once you drawn out this blueprint, it’ll become a lot easier to fine-tune your strategy and business objectives.

In just a half day of brainstorming around the context of your newly defined strategy, you’ll bring loads of new marketing ideas into the picture. How that works? You start by gathering different people — product, marketing and sales managers … or basically anyone who could be useful — around the meeting table.

Assign one person to handle the whiteboard. That person draws a marketing funnel onto the board in different columns and adds 3 rows below it: GET, TO and BY. Be sure to leave abundant white space in the different rows, because once the creative juice start flowing, you’ll have a lot of input to add. Which funnel you use choose is up to you. Let’s take the highly popular AARRR framework, also known as the Pirate Funnel — as in “Aarrrrr, matey!”, get it? — as an example.

The AARRR framework divides your business into five steps (Acquisition, Activation, Revenue, Retention, Referral). Customers should be lead through each of these steps. By completing this framework you will clearly see the gaps in your customer journey. You may find that you don't have enough customers, and decide what you need to do to get more? Maybe you need to set up more marketing initiatives to reach a broader audience? Or should you optimise your website with specific features to give you visitors a better user experience?

Apply the GET-TO-BY framework to each of the funnel’s phases:

Acquisition - How many people are visiting your website?
Activation - How many people take the first important step?
Retention - How many people come back for a second / third /… tenth time?
Revenue - How many people are paying customers? And how much do they spend?
Referral - How many people refer friends/acquaintances to your company?

Okay, it’s hardly rocket science. But by doing this exercise with a group of people, you would be amazed by the fresh insights it brings to the table. But keep in mind that this brainstorm isn’t about flabbergasting everyone with complex data and in-depth analysis. Make it your main goal to have your colleagues, people who are doing business day in and day out, spout as many ideas as possible, without restrictions. You’ll be surprised what it can do to improve the business.

The next two practical examples will show you exactly how the Pirate Funnel works.

Example 1 | Flash sale webshop - workshop

Standard matrix for single use (every participant does the exercise individually):

Pirate FunnelExample 2 | Fine-tuning a specific phase of the funnel

By zooming into a certain phase of the funnel and its specific pain points, you’ll bring up some interesting insights. Let’s look at some realistic issues that could occur within the Retention phase.

Issue #1:

Due to logistical hiccups during the past year, many customers didn’t receive their parcels in a timeline manner. In addition, a large budget was invested in advertising campaigns on radio and TV. Successful for acquisition, but a disaster for retention.

Send an informal ‘We’re sorry ‘ mail to all customers who have received their parcels late.

Issue #2:

Transactional mails aren’t always sent out correctly, so often customers don’t know when their parcel is being sent, or even when it will be delivered. This leads to frustration.

Prioritise solving technical issues in your mail system and send clear transactional follow-up emails.

Issue #3:

We don’t put enough effort into our loyal customer base. They should be rewarded for their confidence in our brand, or even put in the spotlight as ambassadors.

Customers with a certain number of orders get a personal thank you email with an exclusive offer to have their next order shipped for free.

Putting Issue #1 into our GET-TO-BY and AARRR framework, it would look something like this:

GET-TO-BY and AARRR frameworkSTEP 2 | Validating your ideas

That first brainstorm is worth its weight in gold. When it's gone well, not only bottlenecks are ready to be unclogged, but you’ll have lots of ideas to better serve your customers and thus improve your business. Now it’s time to prioritise the output of your GET-TO-BY workshop.

Let’s start by pinning our ideas on 2 axes:

  1. What is the expected impact: This demonstrates to which extent the idea will affect our key KPI.
  2. What is the expected feasibility: This is the feasibility of implementation. It’s an estimate of how much effort and resources a particular idea would need to be implemented.

You can do this exercise as an annex to your brainstorming session. If you deem it more practical, you can also organise this in a second session. For our flash sale webshop, a completed framework for marketing initiatives after a brainstorm might look like this:Brainstorm flash sale webshopAn alternative (or addition) to this framework: Sum up all ideas in a spreadsheet and attribute them a score from 1-10, according to the same variables (impact and feasibility). Those 2 scores multiplied by a total score will give you a clear result per idea. Based on this total score, you’ll be able to rank your ideas from high to low.
Scoring model However, this scoring method does not give you absolute numbers. Use it as a tool to help you to evaluate certain aspects, focus on the right details, and facilitate the set-up and testing of your marketing initiatives.

STEP 3 | Testing and following up your ideas

Once you’ve done one or two fruitful brainstorms, the fun part starts. You ‘ll have at least one solid idea — maybe even two, three or more — that you want to test out and set up. Take your time to roll out, measure and analyse your idea(s).

Creating a to do list is always a good starting point. Draw out a work breakdown structure where you slice up your idea into smaller manageable tasks and sub projects. A tools like Asana, Husky, Trello will help you organise your team activities to get the job done.

TrelloStart by testing three ideas that won’t conflict with each other. KPI selection doesn't have to be all that difficult. Very often it’s a matter of reach, conversion ratio, turnover, cost per lead, ... Define your goals and you’re all set for excellent results.


The above mechanics will not only help you win valuable time when setting up marketing initiatives to get better results. It will always create better bonds between the different parties involved. You’ll be surprised of the creative potential that’s at hand within your company. By using this 3-step plan you’ll be able to unlock that potential faster and easier.

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Posted on
Nov 6, 2020