EOS Marketing Strategy: Turning Big Ideas into Action

If you’re familiar with Authentic Brand, you know we’re big fans of EOS®, the Entrepreneurial Operating System and its EOS marketing strategy framework. EOS is effective at creating vision, traction and alignment in growth-oriented companies. 

I was part of a team that implemented EOS more than a decade ago, and since then, I’ve watched numerous companies achieve sustainable growth with guidance from the system’s practical tools. One of those tools, the Vision/Traction Organizer™ (V/TO), helps companies define their organizational vision, including their EOS marketing strategy. 

The V/TO™ and EOS marketing strategy

The Vision/Traction Organizer is a fundamental EOS tool that simplifies the strategic planning process. One section of the V/TO helps companies define their EOS marketing strategy by compelling leadership to identify the company’s target market, three uniques (i.e., differentiators), proven process and guarantee. Each factor serves as an essential anchor point for the brand and, collectively, they make up the company’s EOS marketing strategy.

An EOS marketing strategy helps companies resist the temptation of trying to be everything for everyone by providing marketing direction, clarity and focus. It’s a powerful strategic tool, but it’s only the first step (albeit a significant one) in building an effective marketing function.

Turning an EOS marketing strategy into action

Businesses powered by EOS have done some of the hardest work required of companies to create breakthrough growth. They’ve challenged themselves to know who they are, what they stand for, and what they want to become. The EOS marketing strategy is vital to this discovery. 

However, without the right expertise to turn an EOS marketing strategy into an actionable marketing plan, companies are at risk of falling back into old habits of reactive, random acts of marketing. After your company completes its V/TO, we recommend you take these four steps to make your EOS marketing strategy actionable:

  1. Put the right people in place

Most companies using EOS have been sales-focused up until the point they realize they need strategic marketing leadership for continued business success. We typically see this reality set in within 6-18 months of implementing EOS. Executives know they need marketing, but they might not know how to structure and measure the effectiveness of a modern marketing organization. 

This realization often opens up a box on the EOS accountability chart for marketing leadership. It’s time to determine who’s accountable for the EOS marketing strategy and whether it’s an existing internal resource, a new hire or an external partner

This decision can be a make-or-break for EOS-powered companies. Some companies jump to assigning the CEO or vice president of sales to this role, without considering whether the individual truly knows what it takes to grow a marketing program and organization. Companies that take time to consider the right background and experience needed for this position often achieve greater success. Regardless of who fills the role, one non-negotiable should be that they understand how to integrate all facets of a modern marketing program, and align those activities to revenue results.

Before turning your EOS marketing strategy into an actionable plan, ask yourself if you have the right person in place to successfully fill the marketing accountability gap, or whether it’s time to look externally. 

2. Solidify your brand story

Many EOS-powered companies mistake the “three uniques” of the EOS marketing strategy for being a brand story. The problem with this mindset is that the three uniques are usually “us-focused.” They put the company, not the customer, at the center of the message. 

Memorable brand messaging connects with customers by making the story about them. These brand stories focus on the “so what” to connect with your customers’ needs, pains and values. These brand stories pique interest, so your customer wants to learn more. Compelling brand stories are unique, concise, differentiated and authentic to who the company is and the value it delivers to its customers.

Companies often turn to external help for solidifying their brand stories. And for a good reason. Brand messaging experts approach your company’s story with a fresh and unbiased perspective. This external perspective is sometimes necessary to move the company from a company-focused brand story to a customer-focused one.

3. Get to know your audience to establish a strategic marketing mix

A critical step in executing on an EOS marketing strategy is to get to know your audience better. Discover where they go to get information, what their biggest day-to-day challenges are, and what motivates them. Audience research helps you pull out key insights about your buyers that informs your marketing mix strategy (e.g., channels, programs, campaigns, activities). 

For example, you might learn your audience relies heavily on product reviews and online resources when making a buying decision. Knowing this, you could choose to prioritize PR and digital efforts to reach potential buyers during their research but opt out of industry trade shows because you learn your buyer uses these almost entirely for peer-to-peer networking.

Without taking the time to get to know the target market you defined in your EOS marketing strategy, you could end up making assumptions that result in expensive, ineffective marketing efforts. Since no company has unlimited resources, use this exercise not only to allocate budget by marketing channel but also to prioritize audiences based on which are most important to meeting business objectives.

4. Decide how you’ll measure success

Before executing your marketing plan, define success. Identifying KPIs upfront allows you to measure how different tactics and channels perform against objectives. Think about KPIs on a deeper level than how many connections you made. Consider the value of those connections. Five one-on-one conversations with your ideal prospects are much more valuable than a lead list with 1,000 contacts.

Factor in how frequently you’ll track and review your KPIs to your marketing plan. Regularly reviewing KPIs enables you to quickly pivot from investing in one channel to another if you find it does not have the impact you anticipated. This review process can save the organization from wasting ineffective marketing dollars.

EOS marketing strategy pitfalls

Activating an EOS marketing strategy isn’t easy. It takes careful planning and solid marketing expertise. Be mindful of these common pitfalls when developing your marketing plan:

  • You have a marketing coordinator or manager who knows the business well but isn’t a seasoned marketer. You promote this individual and make them accountable for marketing objectives. Without support from an experienced strategic marketing leader, the junior marketing person is unable to perform at the level required for growth.
  • The company realizes marketing hasn’t been effective and assumes it’s because it doesn’t have the right marketing employees in place. It brings in fresh talent and thinks it’s enough to solve the problem. Months later, the company realizes they still aren’t having marketing success.
  • The company has a talented sales leader, so it gives him or her responsibility for marketing, too. Marketing isn’t given a seat at the table and becomes an order taker for sales. Marketing doesn’t operate as a strategic function at the company, and this holds the company back from optimal growth.

Having the right person in place to lead your marketing function to strategic growth is vital to avoiding these pitfalls. Successful execution of an EOS marketing strategy hinges on the company’s ability to fill the marketing seat with a strategic marketing leader capable of connecting business strategy to a strategic marketing plan and tactical execution.

External expertise to bring your EOS marketing strategy to life 

If your organization is struggling to make your EOS marketing strategy actionable, contact Authentic Brand to see how we can help. We’re uniquely equipped to help companies powered by EOS bring their EOS marketing strategy to life. 

Not only are we powered by EOS, but Marketing Traction™, our proven process, mirrors principles found in EOS and is a natural complement to your native EOS language and business practices. With Marketing Traction, we help companies like yours achieve next-level growth through marketing alignment, accountability, and focused execution.

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Jennifer Zick

Founder and CEO at Authentic Brand
Jennifer Zick is the Founder and CEO of Authentic Brand, a Minneapolis-based marketing consultancy that helps great businesses attain next-level growth through Marketing Traction™.
Jennifer Zick
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