Marketing’s a mind-bogglingly broad vertical. How can you determine the best path forward amongst endless options?

Marketing is a mind-bogglingly broad function. From the “big leagues” of global advertising for the Nikes and Starbucks of the world, all the way down to $100-per-month PPC campaigns for your local plumber, the range of strategies, tactics, agencies, departments, divisions, specialties, products, and jobs from the C-suite on down that make up one of the core functions of business is…well, it’s a lot to wrap your head around.

But for any company of any size, there are three foundational pillars that underpin everything else: WebsitesEmail, and Content.

Before going any further, I’d like to be a little more precise about what we mean by each of these. For our purposes today:

• By “Websites”, we don’t mean web or mobile applications, but public-facing marketing, informational, or e-commerce sites.

• By “Email,” we don’t mean sales funnel tactics or drip campaigns, but newsletters, product releases, and other outbound email marketing initiatives that are intended for a broad (but still 1:1) audience.

• And by “Content,” we don’t mean any specific tactics, but the overall approach of translating your brand strategy into content, whether through mass messaging (e.g social posts, pre-roll, etc) or informative content (e.g. blog posts, podcasts, etc).

Each of these pillars contains virtually infinite layers of nuance that go well beyond the scope of this email. But for our purposes, we’re going to investigate why these three go well so together, and it boils down to one simple throughline:

Figure out your story. Frame it up within a context that others will care about it. And find them where they already are.

From there, a galaxy of possibilities emerges about what you can do, running the gamut of marketing buzzwords: SEO, Brand Strategy, Channel Strategy, Art & Copy, Site Content Strategy, Development, Podcasts, Blogs, Social, Search/PPC, Branding, Analytics, Personalization, and so on and so forth. All of these exist for a reason, but there is a limit to what can be pursued, based on time, budget, and relevancy.

But fear not, those without Nike-sized ad budgets: it doesn’t require spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to build a better foundation.

For an organization that’s outgrown their initial marketing, approach these three pillars at the same time with a laser-focused eye on what you need to do now to reach your best customers. This process of “thinking wide” across all three will help you figure out your brand story, better define your target audience, and adapt your content to the right contexts you need to grow your audience today, with the necessary tactics falling out of the bigger-picture decisions.

As your marketing engine matures, the sky will increasingly become the limit.

Success comes through repetition, consistency, and paying attention to your customer’s evolving needs. As you grow, certain tactics will carry more weight. Where Search, Social, and Email might be the core tactics for the early days, Out-of-Home, Television, Preroll, and Direct Mail all have roles to play as your company grows.

Ultimately, we view marketing as a set of concentric rings: Nail the core pieces, and everything else builds around them. Tack on a set of healthy habits (such as periodic brand positioning reviews, and regular, ongoing content updates and emails) while you’re at it, and you’re off to the races.

While it is a specialized field, it’s not rocket science. At its best, marketing can be fun to create, existing as both a mindset and a series of projects that reinforce why your company exists in the first place, and why others should care.

Let’s embrace that, by getting our foundation down pat — and then having a little fun along the way.