How this Book is Organized 2018-04-04T22:41:45+00:00

How this Book is Organized

Upstream Marketing BookThe rest of the book structure draws on the upstream marketing framework, into the following parts and chapters, that describe the principles and best practices.

Part One: Insight.  Deep, proprietary customer insight is foundational to upstream marketing, which is used to define where to play strategically.  Upstream marketing insight must clear a high hurdle, it needs to be deep, proprietary, forward looking, actionable and align with customer segments.

Chapter 2: Look Closer.  Think Deeper. What do you know about your target customers that your competitors don’t know? A distinguishing factor of upstream marketers is putting the customer at center then structuring the organization to deliver. We’ll describe the type of insight, and when and how to obtain it practically.

Chapter 3:  Define To Whom? For What? Armed with customer insight, strategic choices must be made regarding where to compete and how to compete.  A customer framework introduces and aligns the concept of customer segmentation and portfolio management, resulting in strategic opportunity areas. In formulaic terms: To whom + For what = Strategic Opportunity Area.  The to-whom, for-what framework brings realism and practicality to strategic growth decision-making.

Part Two: Identity.  Every organization needs a clear sense of purpose to direct strategy.  Corporate statements – like mission, vision and value statements can help, though are not enough and tend to be company- vs. customer-driven. Two critical constructs – the value proposition and brand positioning – are required inputs for driving growth.

Chapter 4: Design & Align Value Propositions. Value proposition development is a missing link in growth planning.  Value proposition development requires aligning three things: customer needs, benefits planks, and operational strategies. Like brands, they occur at different levels in an organization and must be strategically managed.

Chapter 5: Build the Brand. It’s no surprise the seven profile companies top the list of the most valued brands. Here, we’ll reveal four key aspects of brand strategy: brand positioning, architecture, touchpoints, and extensions. Historically the domain of product developers and ad agencies – brand is a strategic weapon that can increase corporate value in a more significant way.

Part Three: Innovation is the hallmark of upstream marketing, and leading organizations draw on it to consistently fuel growth.  Here, we break innovation down into two core components: those dealing with strategy and process, and those relating to people, structure, and organizational enablers.

Chapter 6: Aim ‘Em. Innovation is more than, “I’ve got an idea” and must be aimed strategically. Upstream marketers take a planned, systematized approach to innovation, rather than rely on intuition, luck or an occasional brainstorming meeting. Aim ‘Em, requires an innovation strategy to ensure a consistent stream of products and services to drive growth.

Chapter 7: Don’t Tame ‘Em. While organizational and cultural issues are often dismissed or overlooked as “soft stuff”, these are the very things that differentiate upstream marketers from the rest.  Don’t Tame ‘Em examines the importance of creativity, innovation and other organizational factors required to support upstream marketing.

Part Four: Integration and Implementation. Any one upstream marketing principle can significantly improve business performance. Integrating and implementing them holistically unlocks the true power of upstream marketing. Insight informs identity, which informs innovation, which improves insight, and the process repeats. It’s not one thing. It’s all of them working together.

Chapter 8: Upstream Marketing Process Upstream marketing principles are universal. The method for enacting them, though, will vary.  What works in one industry, may not in another. To get started, a proven 6-Step upstream marketing process is provided. We’ll show how integration– including active participation and buy-in of executive decision-makers at key points – is vital to upstream marketing success.

Chapter 9: Upstream Marketing Application. Is your organization a candidate for upstream marketing?  Client cases show how upstream marketing works in practice.  A set of questions are used to diagnose upstream marketing potential? We end with concrete next steps – what can be done Monday morning to enact the principles in your organization.

Note a couple of points regarding the terms and themes used in this book:

Companies use different words to describe their end-purchasers, including consumers, customers, clients, buyers, users, members, prospects, candidates, etc. The terms consumers and customer, considered interchangeable, will be used here,

Upstream marketing is a concept that extends beyond the term marketing, as many view it. The term upstream marketers is designed to be inclusive across titles, functional groups and skill sets, across strategy, marketing, sales, product development, R&D, and others. Exactly who leads upstream marketing can vary, from the CEO, other executives and functional leaders.


After years of studying and helping companies grow, the root cause of stalled growth is often an over-reliance on downstream marketing. Companies looking to grow are often focused on the wrong problem, using downstream marketing tactics to eke out the last bit of sales revenue or profit contribution. While downstream is necessary for marketing success – it’s not sufficient.

Despite what management consultants, research companies, ad agencies, marketing software providers or social media experts might say, there is no single answer to growth.  Psychologist Abraham Maslow said, “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.”  A one-off solution is the wrong tool.

Going upstream to identify opportunities is often the far better approach. This, though, cannot be outsourced. It requires the entire organization to understand, adopt and adhere to three universal principles and seven best practices.  Let’s get started with the first principle and practice.

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