Renee Higgins
Author Archives: Renee Higgins

Action Plan Template

Do you want to be more effective in your marketing implementation? One way we help clients be more effective is by creating an action plan that includes all of the marketing activities and deliverable due dates. Our action plan spreadsheet enables them to track activities, person responsible, due dates, next steps and any issues to ensure that everyone is clear on what needs to be done and when. We hope it helps you too!

Download the Action Plan Spreadsheet Here!

KPI Tracker & Results Dashboard Overview


These deliverables are how you track KPI’s (key performance indicators) and analyze results to enhance effectiveness

KPI Tracker: Excel worksheet with KPI’s for all relevant marketing channels 

Results Dashboard: Summary of the most important marketing KPI’s by funnel stage.

  • Shows how the tactics performed in the current time period, as compared to a previous time period and trends over time
  • The Insights and Indicated Actions provide an explanation of the results and what to do to enhance results

KPI Tracker

  • Excel worksheet with KPI’s for all relevant marketing tactics 
  • Data from many sources pulled in a consistent way
    • Time periods (weekly)
    • Type of data
    • How the data is pulled 
  • Shows how all marketing tactics work together during the time periods and over time

Results Dashboard

Summary of the most important marketing KPI’s by funnel stage. 

  • Shows how the tactics performed in the current time period, as compared to a previous time period and trends over time.


  • Table broken out by Funnel Stage
    • KPI’s, Current Period Result, Previous Period Result, Current vs. Previous, Trend chart
  • Insights and Indicated Actions - An explanation of the results and what to do to enhance results in the future
    • Insights – What’s working? Why? What’s not working? Why not?
    • Indicated Actions – What should you stop, start or continue to enhance results?

Results Dashboard - Example

Insights & Indicated Actions

An explanation of the results and what to do to enhance results

  • Insights – What’s working? Why? What’s not working? Why not?
  • Indicated Actions – What should you stop, start or continue to enhance results?

Insights & Indicated Actions - Example

CMO-OnLoan has a full funnel plan that is delivering results. Since we are 100% referral based, the most effort should continue to be building relationships and leveraging them with our clients. Our second biggest effort is increasing interest by Amy building stronger relationships with her COI network.

Budget Priorities

What are Budget Priorities?

  • An estimate of what investment is needed to deliver your brand’s Marketing Plan - Priorities, Tactics & KPIs


  • Start with your Priorities, Tactics & KPIs
  • Estimate the Cost of Activities for each Tactic
  • Calculate Total Estimated Budget & Priorities
  • Determine Marketing Budget as % of Revenue
  • Review & Refine

Start With Your Priorities, Tactics & KPIs

Estimate the Cost of Activities

  • Add all Tactics to the “Budget by Tactic” sheet
  • Add estimated costs for the activities needed to execute each Tactic
  • Add notes to explain breakout/costs if needed

Calculate Total Budget & Priorities

  • The “Budget Overview” sheet sums all of the costs = Estimated Budget
  • It also calculates Category % of Total Budget = Priorities

Determine Budget % of Revenue $

  • Add Total Revenue $ for the same period as the Estimated Budget
    • New Brand = 12% to 20%
    • Established Brand = 6% to 12%

Past Customer Re-engagement Plan

You are missing out on growth opportunities (and "leaving money on the table") if you don't stay in touch with past customers! So how do you do it? Follow these simple steps to re-engage with past customers.

Re-engagement Plan Steps:

  1. Pull a list of past customers from the past 12-24 months.
  2. Outline the process and timeline of when you will call, email, send direct mail, etc. to that list.
  3. Implement your plan:
    1. Create the 1st email to remind the list of your capabilities and how you can help their business. 
    2. Create a call script for how to follow up with them
    3. Develop any creative needed for direct mail - case studies, personal note, gift, etc. 
  4. Track results with email open rate, responses, clicks, direct mail delivered, etc. 

Calendar Overview

What is it?

  • A visual way to show your initiatives, events and communications in relationship to your Ideal Target’s mindset and relevant seasonality. 

Start with the Journey Map Calendar View

  • It shows your Ideal Target’s mindset during relevant seasonality and includes major activities, events, holidays, etc.
  • If your Ideal Target isn’t impacted by the calendar, use a simple excel file with columns by week or month

Add to the Journey Map Calendar View to create the Calendar Overview

  • Major activities, events, and initiatives
  • Use color blocks to show when the activity is happening in the market

Journey Map Calendar View

  • Shows mindset and seasonality if it’s relevant for your Ideal Target

Calendar Overview

Add to the Journey Map Calendar View to create the Calendar Overview

  • Add major activities, events, and initiatives

  • Use color blocks to show when the activity is happening in the market

Types of Information to Include:

  • Product Launches, Initiatives and Campaigns

  • Marketing Activities (Advertising, Digital & Social, Events, etc.)

  • Customer Activities (Key meetings, customer appreciation, etc.)

  • If messaging changes, use different colors for the color blocks

Calendar Overview - Example

Industry Ranking Framework

Many clients ask us for help identifying the "next best" market/vertical/industry growth opportunity. They often have great insights, but they want a bit more objectivity and full team alignment. We created a framework to help you determine which "industries" (markets/verticals) to prioritize for growth. Here's the process.

  1. Create a list of all your current industries 
  2. Add current sales by industry and estimated total industry sales 
  3. Define and determine the weight of each criteria 
  4. If needed, research each industry 
  5. Rank industries based on criteria
  6. Prioritize industries based on the weighted ranking 

Use our framework to identify your "next best" opportunity. 

Event Strategy

The main objective of an event strategy is to ensure you are building awareness and connecting with the right people at any given event. Review our tool below to make the most of your next event.

Event Plan Outline

  • Before: If you receive a list from the association, reach out 5-7 days before the start of the event and post on social media and employees share the post.
  • During: Post on social media and have attending employees share the post.
  • After: Within 1 day of being home, reach out to contacts that you met and did not meet and schedule debrief meeting within 5 days of the event. Post on social media and employees share the post. 

Before the Event

  • Objective - set meetings with priority contacts (current clients/new clients)
  • Email & Social Plan:
    • Email: send 1 email 5-7 days before event
    • Social Post: 1 post 5-7 days before the event and employees share

During the Event

  • Objective - remind your audience that you are attending the event and want to talk
  • Social Plan: 1 social post during the event and employees share
  • EX- "The ITS team is set up and ready for the [name of show]. Stop by our booth [include #] and say hi!

After the Event

  • Objective - connect with and schedule a meeting or call with those you met and didn't meet
  • Email & Social Plan:
    • Email : 1 email the day after the event to those you met. 
    • Social Post: 1 post a week after the event and employees share 

Marketing Plan Overview & Priorities, Tactics & KPIs


  • The Marketing Plan Overview and Priorities, Tactics & KPIs are foundations of the Marketing Plan Building Block
  • They are critical for delivering business results and marketing return on investment (ROI) or payout
  • Marketing Plan Overview - description and visual that provides the background and overall marketing focus by funnel stage. 
  • Priorities, Tactics & KPIs - specifics on what marketing will do by funnel stage and how you will measure results

Marketing Plan Overview

  • Description and visual that provides the background and overall marketing focus by funnel stage
  • Business inputs and insights that are guiding the marketing plan
    • 3-5 inputs and insights from Discovery, Brand Strategy and Communication Strategy Building Blocks
  • Marketing Effort by Funnel Stage
    • Description - bullets with which funnel stages we will focus marketing efforts and why
    • Visual - a chart to show which funnel stages we will focus on 
    • Note - all funnel stages need some focus

Marketing Plan Overview - Example

  • Business inputs and insights that are guiding the marketing plan
    • Business goal is steady growth, managing current team capacity
    • Largest source of business is from relationships (current clients or COI referrals)
    • Most clients aren't active on social channels, attend some smaller events
  • Marketing Focus by Funnel Stage
    • Priority 1. Build Relationships. Stay proactively engaged with current and past clients
    • Priority 2. Increase Interest. Build our reputation and stay top-of-mind with our COI's 
    • Priority 3. Gain Commitment. Implement our business development process. 
    • Priority 4. Build Awareness. Simple, low investment channels

Priorities, Tactics & KPIs

  • Specifics on what marketing will do by funnel stage and how you will measure results
  • Components:
    • Priorities - the funnel stage priority (1, 2, 3, 4) and brief description of what you are focusing on from the Marketing Plan Overview
    • Tactics - 3-5 activities that support the priority - refer to the Channel Strategy
    • KPI's - metrics that measure effectiveness of the tactics - refer to the Channel Strategy 

Priorities, Tactics & KPIs Template

Priorities, Tactics & KPIs - Example

Content Calendar Template

Develop and manage your digital content by creating a content calendar. This is a great and simple way to brainstorm, plan and schedule your communications so you aren't rushing to create and post at the last minute. It also helps ensure you're communicating your key messages over time. We created a template to help you get started. 

Download the Content Calendar Template!

The first tab is the main content calendar. This is where you will manage all of your content by:

  • Date to post
  • Type of content
  • Email subject line 
  • Email content
  • LinkedIn/Facebook/Google Post
  • Blog Content
  • "Learn More" Link
  • Images
  • Additional links

The second tab is the Topic List which is essentially your idea bank. This allows you to brainstorm content ideas and keep them all in one place. When you are ready to develop and post the content, you can move it to the content calendar tab and cross it off the topic list. 

Channel Strategy Overview

What is a Channel Strategy?

  • It is where and how you communicate throughout your Ideal Target’s journey

Step One - Create the Journey Map First

  • Uses the same funnel steps
  • Uses the Audience Mindset and How We Interact at This Stage

Channel Strategy Components

  • Audience mindset
  • How we interact at this stage
  • Marketing Channels
  • KPI's (Key Performance Indicators)

Journey Map Refresher

A visual way to show your Ideal Target's interactions with your brand throughout the journey. 

Channel Strategy

Where and how you communicate your Ideal Target's journey. 

Channel Strategy - Journey Map Input

Channel Strategy Reference Guide

Determining Marketing Channels & KPI's

  1. Choose one funnel stage
  2. Review the "Audience Mindset"
  3. Review "How We Interact at this Stage"
  4. Review the "Channel Strategy" Reference Guide
  5. Jot down how you communicated and interacted successfully in the past
  6. Choose 3-4 marketing channels for the stage
  7. For each marketing channel, identify 1-2 KPI's that will help you understand if your Ideal Target is "moving down the funnel"
  8. Repeat for the rest of the funnel stages
  9. If you have more than one "Audience," follow the same process

Channel Strategy - Example

Featured Client: Industrial Training Services

Building a Foundation for Sustainable Growth

Industrial Training Services (ITS) is a family and woman-owned business that helps their clients in the natural gas industry maintain safe and compliant programs through operator qualification (OQ) training, certification, and monitoring. For decades, ITS’s industry-proven solutions, effective tools and dedicated team have made them the choice for the largest natural gas companies with the most complex programs across the United States.


Until 2021, ITS didn’t have a focused marketing approach. Their marketing team tactically supported the sales, product, and internal teams, but they didn’t have a marketing leader and didn’t consider their approach “strategic.” In addition, ITS wasn’t sure what the best structure would be for their marketing organization. As part of their strategic planning process, Stephanie Balmer, CEO of ITS, determined it was time to build a solid marketing foundation. Stephanie said, “We knew the business could only grow so far without a strong and confident marketing department. We needed a marketing leader to come in and help us develop the marketing department so that we could continue to grow the business.”


Stephanie was introduced to Amy Connor, CEO & Owner of CMO-OnLoan, through a consultant who was helping ITS with its strategic plan. After several discovery meetings and conversations to determine the right approach, ITS hired CMO-OnLoan. Amy stated, “When I met with Stephanie, I knew CMO-OnLoan could make an immediate impact on their business. They had a best-in-class product, a strong team and a collaborative culture. They just needed guidance on how to build a foundation and align with the rest of the organization.”

The scope for CMO-OnLoan had three primary focus areas that spanned strategic planning, implementation of key initiatives for short term impact, and support to embed marketing expertise and confidence in the ITS team.

Amy and the CMO-OnLoan team were focused on defining a growth roadmap that would both deliver results and allow for the flexibility needed in an environment fast-paced change.

One of the first projects was updating the ITS brand architecture. The existing naming approach made it harder to build the core ITS brand, so ITS and CMO-OnLoan worked together on a revised structure that worked to build equity for ITS while also making it easy for customers to understand the differences between the various products and services. A second key project was defining the ITS promise and secret sauce that helped build a solid strategic foundation for all marketing communications.

With these and other brand strategy foundations in place, the team then shifted focus to implementation. CMO-OnLoan collaborated with sales consultant, Pam Beigh and her firm, SalesCORE to create an integrated KPI tracker and dashboard provided clarity on what was driving business results. CMO-OnLoan helped jumpstart several urgent initiatives by developing plans for upcoming product launches, building a plan for the website, and refreshing the sales booth. Additional implementation work including building a client engagement plan, an event strategy plan, a sales support plan and a content development process and calendar.

Throughout implementation, CMO-OnLoan met weekly with the marketing team to discuss projects and prioritize activities, share expertise, and provide coaching and support. In less than a year, the building blocks were in place, and the marketing team was confidently leading and managing the work their own.


Stephanie and the ITS team were pleased with the results of the engagement. The specific outcomes include:

  • Marketing results dashboard shows that marketing is impacting business and growth goals
  • Marketing believes that they can proactively help grow the business
  • Strong, consistent brand across all mediums
  • Collaborate approach with sales and marketing
  • Clear approval process for marketing activities and expenses

After the engagement was finished, Balmer stated, “Before CMO-OnLoan we weren’t clear on marketing’s role in growing the business.  Now we have the strategy and processes in place to confidently implement. We have a foundation for growth.”

Download the PDF


Industrial Training Services (ITS) leads operator qualification in the natural gas industry by helping clients maintain safe and compliant programs.

Having no marketing leader, Stephanie Balmer, ITS CEO, wanted an external resource to help build a marketing foundation.

ITS hired CMO-OnLoan to:

  • Build and begin implementing a customized strategic marketing playbook that would be a foundation for sustainable growth
  • Guide short-term priorities like developing initiative launch plans for upcoming product launches
  • Coach and support the Marketing Officer

When asked about the engagement, Stephanie Balmer, ITS CEO stated, “Now we have the strategy and processes in place to confidently implement. We have a foundation for growth.”


Build and Begin Implementing the Strategic Marketing Playbook

  • Brand Strategy
  • Communication Strategy
  • Marketing Plan
  • Resource Plan

Coaching and Support for the Marketing Team

Implementation Deliverables

  • Brand Rollout-Plan
  • Logo Refresh Brief
  • Initiative Launch Plan
  • Event Strategy and Plan
  • Sales Support Plan
  • Sales Booth Refresh Plan
  • Website Plan
  • Research Plan with Product
  • Client Engagement Plan
  • Renewal Segmentation
  • Content Development Process & Calendar
  • LinkedIn Plan & Training

Journey Map & Journey Map Calendar View Overview

What Is a Journey Map?

  • It is a visual way to show your Ideal Target's interactions with your brand throughout the journey. 
  • It identifies what your Ideal Target is thinking and what the person wants at each step.
  • It identifies what the brand wants and how we should interact with the Ideal Target. 
  • The stages are the same as the funnel from the Marketing Plan and Channel Strategy, just described from both the Ideal Target's point of view as well as the brand.
  • Complete a map for each Ideal Target or subgroups within your Ideal Target who have different journeys. 

Example Journey Map

What is a Journey Map Calendar View?

  • Add Seasonality with a Journey Map - Calendar view if it's relevant for your Ideal Target.

Example Journey Map Calendar View 

Key Messages Overview

What is it?

  • A visual way to organize your most important messages
  • It helps you prioritize what you want your audience to hear
  • It ensures consistency in how everyone speaks and writes about your brand
  • Only use a few - a primary and for initiatives, major news or a crisis

What does it include?

  • Key messages include bite-sized information
    • 1 Main Message
    • 3 Supporting Messages
    • 3-5 Proof Points per Supporting Message

Main Message

  • The main idea you want your audience to hear, understand, and remember
    • What's the ONE thing you want people to hear and remember?
    • It's like a thesis statement in an essay
    • If asked a question, what would you want a speaker to get across?
    • We often use the "Promise" from the Brand Strategy

Supporting Messages

  • Points that make the main message more clear
    • It's like the supporting messages for a thesis in an essay
    • Should summarize several detailed Proof Points
    • Limited to 3
    • We often use the "Secret Sauce" from the Brand Strategy

Proof Points

  • Specific reasons to believe each Supporting Message
    • What are the 3-5 reasons for a person to believe each Supporting Message?
    • Provide facts/proof with why the Supporting Message is true (often numbers-based)
    • Proof Points are a way to get to the Supporting Messages and ultimately the Main Message
    • When asked a question, sometimes a speaker starts with a Proof Point

Good Key Messages:

  • Aligned with overall business strategy
  • Unique, accurate and verifiable
  • Concise (you only have one page for a reason)
  • Easy to understand and easy to restate (no corporate jargon)
  • Relevant to specific audiences

Click here to watch the video!

How To Update Your LinkedIn Profile

Do you want to update your LinkedIn profile but don't know where to start or how to do it?. Updating your profile can be a quick and simple process. 

Our step by step tool will show you how to:

  1. Optimize Your Profile
  2. Add Profile Picture & Banner
  3. Create a Personalized URL
  4. Edit Header Information
  5. Add Header Section
  6. Edit Experience

Download The Tool Here To See How!

Hero’s Story Outline Overview

What is it?

  • It's the story of how you guide your ideal target through challenges to success
  • It focuses on the ideal target being the hero and you being the guide
  • You can use this outline in sales emails, your website, social media, etc. 

Hero's Story Outline

  • Your Ideal Target:
  • Has a Problem:
  • Meets a Guide (Promise): 
  • Has a Plan (Secret Sauce):
  • And Clear Steps:
  • End in Success:
  • Avoids Failure:
  • Transforms (from-to):

Hero's Story Outline Example

  • Ideal Client: CEO/Owner of a mid-market privately-held business
  • Has a Problem: Doesn't have a marketing leader and doesn't want one full-time, but needs the marketing expertise
  • Meets a Guide: CMO-OnLoan
  • Has a Plan: Build confidence that your organization's marketing will fuel growth
  • And Clear Steps: We build a customized strategic marketing playbook, begin implementing it and transition out once your team is ready
  • Avoids Failure: Waste time and money on marketing decisions; confidence in your marketing team, leading indicators show that marketing is growing your business
  • Transforms (from-to): From Unsure, Unfocused, Frustrated to Confident, Informed, Empowered

Hero's Story Example

CEOs of mid-market companies need the firepower of a senior marketing leader, but they aren’t ready for that level of expertise on a full-time basis. In the absence of a marketing leader, they get bombarded with sales calls and buzzwords, are concerned that their current marketing isn’t delivering results and are unsure about what would deliver results.

These business leaders shouldn’t have to compromise marketing results. With CMO-OnLoan, they don’t have to. CMO-OnLoan delivers CMO level expertise on a fractional basis.

Our consultants combine decades of marketing expertise with simple practices and a disciplined style that takes the burden off you. We work with your team to build a customized strategic marketing playbook that increases marketing effectiveness and builds confidence in making marketing decisions. We work side-by-side with you and your team, infusing marketing knowledge and useful frameworks at every opportunity. Once the fundamentals are set and your team is ready to lead, we transition out.

Stop feeling frustrated, and instead feel confident in your marketing, your marketing resources and your marketing team.

Call Amy Connor for a free discovery conversation to see if our approach meets your needs.

Click here to watch the video

How to Create an Employee Spotlight Post

Telling your employee's stories is easier than you think. Follow these 5 simple steps to create an employee spotlight. 


1. Pick an employee you want to highlight

2. Set up a 30 minute interview with them 

3. Interview employee with the questions below

4. Create a social media post by pulling a quote from the interview and posting their picture

5. If you have an email automation set up, you can share it there as well

Interview Questions:

  • What do you do in your role?
  • What's the best part of your job?
  • What is your favorite thing about working at [company]?
  • What has been your favorite project so far?
  • What has been one of your proudest moments working at [company]?
  • What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

LinkedIn Audit Tool

LinkedIn can be intimidating. But you don't need to have the best profile on the platform to be impactful. It is important to have a profile that is updated and professional looking, so when current customers and prospects, and even potential employees, find you on LinkedIn, they are seeing a great representation of yourself.

Here are a few categories that you can start with.

  1. Up-to-date location and industry
  2. Customized LinkedIn URL
  3. Current contact information
  4. 1st person summary description 
  5. Current company name with logo from LinkedIn's database
  6. Up-to-date education with your degree

Download the LinkedIn Audit Tool

Featured Client: PQ Systems

Market-Focused Plans Deliver Business Growth

For over 30 years, PQ Systems (PQ) has helped manufacturers implement quality improvement programs. Their solutions include statistical process control software, gage management software, measurement system analysis, training, and consulting services. Beth Savage, President & Owner since 2015, had a desire to further amplify PQ’s reputation for customer focus, building on their history of growth and delivering even bigger growth in the future.


To meet these aggressive goals, PQ aimed to shift from a product-focused organization to a more market-focused one, and they wanted insight on how to best drive the process. Savage identified their needs to develop a plan that would deliver higher growth, to develop a sustainable, cross-functional, integrated go-to-market approach, and to develop internal capabilities so the team could implement ongoing. It was also important to bring in a partner that would maintain PQ’s strong culture. Savage stated, “We weren’t looking for an external resource to do the work, but to collaborate with us so we could build our capability and capacity through the process.”


Savage met Amy Connor, CEO & Owner of CMO-OnLoan, based on the recommendation of a mutual contact. After discussing multiple options, Connor proposed a monthly engagement where Savage and Connor would meet to discuss the roadmap for implementing the strategic plan with Connor acting as a strategic sounding board. In a few months, Savage and the team had developed internal capability and evolved their focus to an integrated, cross-functional go-to-market approach.

The next step was developing an outcomes-focused marketing playbook that clearly linked to business goals. With a small marketing team, PQ needed external resources to help them develop their plan and to identify the resources needed to implement it.  Savage’s goals were to see marketing KPIs that indicated marketing was driving business results and that the marketing team would be resourced appropriately to implement the plan. One of CMO-OnLoan’s senior consultants, Kathy Drury, led the project with the PQ marketing team. Drury worked with PQ to develop an integrated sales and marketing plan with corresponding key performance indicators (KPIs) to track progress.

Solution, Continued

A key project that enabled PQ to better link marketing results and outcomes was the customer funnel analysis. The team identified lead sources, costs per lead, and close ratio. This analysis enabled the team to create a lead generation plan that clearly linked to business results. The team then used a CMO-OnLoan tool, the Marketing ROI Calculator, to make confident decisions among marketing tactics.

The team delivered weekly and monthly KPI dashboards which kept them focused on the most important business drivers. The dashboards also provided leadership visibility into how marketing KPIs were impacting business results.

A second key project was developing a customer segmentation of current customers. The output included a contact strategy that prioritized the highest growth opportunities with clear roles for both sales and marketing. During this time, CMO-OnLoan analyzed resource needs and provided a short-term resource recommendation. It included Drury facilitating the request for proposal (RFP) process to find and onboard a digital agency to help PQ make significant progress in their digital presence.

Once the plans were aligned, Savage’s desired outcomes were:

a) clear indicators showed that marketing was driving business goals

b) successful implementation and enhancements based on results

c) increased confidence in marketing decisions

Drury collaborated with the marketing team, met with leadership weekly, reviewed and provided feedback on projects and analysis, reports, market analysis, etc. Within a few months, marketing KPIs continued to show how marketing was impacting business goals and the internal team was prepared to implement on their own.


In less than a year, PQ accelerated its shift from a product-focused to a market-focused organization with a strategic marketing playbook the team was confidently implementing. Savage concluded, “I appreciate how the CMO-OnLoan team both helped us meet our goals and were flexible throughout the process.”

Connor stated, “Beth and the PQ Systems team have great products and a strong culture. They just needed some guidance so they could build upon their marketing foundation and enhance their market focus.  I can’t wait to see what they will do next.”

Download the PDF

One Liner vs Competition

Your One Liner vs Competitions is a way of analyzing your brand message

  • Helps you review your messaging versus competition
  • Shows themes and gaps

Steps to Create the One Liner vs Competition Comparison

  • Insert your logo in the center of a blank slide
  • Add the most prominent message on your homepage under the logo
  • Add your competitors' logos around your logo
  • Add your competitors' most prominent message below their logos

What our video here!

Tone-of-Voice Guide

What is Tone-of-Voice?

  • It’s one of the “markers” of Brand Personality - How a brand communicates including the choice of words, communication style and emotional tone
  • Includes all the words used (written or spoken), including websites, emails, brochures, packaging, scripts, and presentations, etc. 
  • It influences how the listener will feel about the brand’s message you want to get across

Steps to Creating a Tone-of-Voice Guide

  • Review the Brand Personality
  • Decide where the brand’s tone-of-voice fits on 4 dimensions:
    • Funny to Serious
    • Casual to Formal
    • Irreverent to Respectful
    • Enthusiastic to Matter-of-Fact
  • Add descriptors to clarify what you mean for each dimension
  • Create a do’s and don’ts list – including specific situations
  • Write a sentence that summarizes the main points of the tone-of-voice

Tone-of-Voice Dimensions

  • Created by Nielsen Norman Group
  • Use it to define where the brand’s tone-of-voice fits on 4 dimensions
  • Can be at an extreme or somewhere in the middle

4 Dimensions:

  •  Funny or Serious
  • Causal or Formal
  • Irreverent or Respectful
  • Enthusiastic or Matter-of-Fact

Add Descriptors

  • Help Clarify what you mean for each dimension


Example Descriptors


Slapstick, deadpan, satire, self-deprecating, witty, humorous, quirky, sarcastic


Dry, weighty, pressing, urgency, grave


Conversational, friendly, fun, nostalgic, informal, everyday


Authoritative, conservative, smart, elegant, conventional, official


Edgy, provocative, sarcastic, snarky, unapologetic


Caring, nostalgic, sympathetic, polite, reverent, gracious


Upbeat, cheerful, fun, happy, romantic, trendy, upbeat, engaging


Coarse, frank, informative, literal, plain, simple, practical

Add Do’s and Don’ts

  • Provide specific examples of what people should and should not do
  • What types of words to use
  • Specific situations and how you respond to them
  • Who you are talking to
  • What exceptions there are to those situations
  • The goal of the communication (news piece or how-to article)

Finalize the Tone-of-Voice Guide

  • Add the visual of where the brand fits along each dimension
  • Add the Do’s and Don’ts
  • Write a sentence that summarizes the main points of the tone-of-voice

Watch our video here!

Get Better Response To Your Sales Emails

The approach is to focus on a specific group of people and address one relevant problem that they deal with enough that they might be motivated to do something about it. 

Why not include multiple points? It's been proven that trying to say many things dilutes your message and reduces the chance that your email will even be noticed.

We loosely use the "hero's journey" format, a common template for stories. Follow the steps below to craft a single-minded email using this approach:

1.  Identify one ideal target group that you want to reach (title, role, industry, type of issue, etc)

2. Brainstorm all of his/her problems as it relates to your category. Keep asking "what causes the problem" until you get to the real problem the person is facing

3. Choose one problem that you believe is the most relevant and irritating 

4. Create an outline by answering the questions below:

  • Character: Brief description of your ideal target's title, role and/or situation
  • Has a problem: The one problem you chose in step 3
  • Meets a guide:  The benefit you offer that will help the problem
  • Has a plan: Your offerings + an example of how you've overcome these challenges before
  • Avoids Failure: What the person is most afraid of happening
  • Ends in success: What makes the person successful? What does he/she really want to happen?
  • Transforms (from-to): Two word combination. One that describes how the person felt before and then after he/she experienced success or avoided failure. You can brainstorm multiple word combinations
  • Call to action (CTA): Link to a case study, landing page, call now, set meeting, etc. 

5. Use this outline as a starting point to craft the email. Don't overthink it. Write an email that helps the person understand that you "get" the problem and genuinely can help. 

6. Write the subject line - pose a question or provide a statement that is about the problem, the potential failure or the success 

7. Ask someone who has insight about the ideal target and problem to read it for you

p.s. Even if the person doesn't open it, you can still call and follow-up to see if there are any questions about it. 

Want to check out other tips and tools? Click here

Featured Client: go2-pros

Bringing to Life a New Brand

After working as A-Abel Family of Companies for over 30 years, Jay Moran and his family bought the outright ownership of A-Abel Exterminating and TubMasters Renovation in late 2020. In 2021, they began providing the same unmatched professional services, but through a different brand name. Now known as go2-pros, the company minimizes property-owner hassles by providing pest control and renovation services to families throughout Southwest Oh


Once the Moran family bought ownership of the service lines and decided to create a new brand, they knew they needed a trusted marketing expert to guide them through the branding and new brand launch process. To be successful, they needed a new brand name and logo that were distinctive, easy to remember, and that demonstrated their expertise. They also needed a launch plan that included everything from new invoices to a new website and advertising. They already worked with a design agency, digital agency and advertising partners who could implement the plan with excellence, but needed a branding expert and “marketing quarterback” who could lead the effort.


Moran asked his advisors for names of marketing firms who could help. One advisor suggested talking to Amy Connor of CMO-OnLoan. Connor shared templates and examples of how they could help and what was needed for a successful rebranding. After meeting with Connor, Moran believed that the CMO-Onloan team’s branding and marketing expertise, along with their collaborative style would fit well with them and their current agency partners.



The CMO-OnLoan team started by conducting a thorough discovery process to understand the current brand and markets. They reviewed messaging, analyzed prior activities and results, conducted a competitive review and interviewed stakeholders.

The CMO-OnLoan team then led the full team, including internal team members and the agencies through a collaborative process to develop a new brand name, brand architecture, naming architecture and tagline. The designers created logo options and service line treatments that the full team discussed, reviewed and finalized together.

CMO-OnLoan developed ideal customer target profiles for each service line, gaining insight by conducting customer interviews. They developed the brand “why we exist” statement, promise and secret sauce and key messages that would be used across all communications.

Once the brand name, logo, tagline and messages were finalized, CMO-OnLoan developed and implemented the launch. This included developing the launch strategy and writing briefs for agencies and media companies to create assets within the message strategy. CMO-OnLoan also developed an implementation action plan to help the team keep track of everything that needed to change for the rebranding. Finally, CMO-OnLoan managed the action plan and provided guidance to ensure the deadlines were met and the brand was strong and consistent. Connor remarked, “It was a wonderful, collaborative experience where everyone provided their expertise and worked together to make the launch happen quickly. It was a real joy to be a part of!”


The new brand, go2-pros, launched successfully in April, 2021, in just five months. The go2-pros team also gained increased confidence in how to make smart marketing decisions and how to spend their marketing budget. Jay Moran, President at go2-pros stated “The CMO-OnLoan team turned something scary into something we enjoyed. We could not have launched our new brand without their expertise and guidance. It really was a team effort!”

Click here to learn more about go2-pros

Download the PDF

Lead by Lead Source Estimator

If you want to increase your sales, start by tracking your leads by lead source. This allows you to estimate how many leads you need from each source to deliver your goals. Download our estimator and follow the steps below.

Follow These Steps:

1. Type your goal for # of new clients.
2. Type your sales team's average close rate (use what they consider a person/company worth exploring further to when they make the sale).
3. In the excel sheet, the number of "Qualified Leads" will calculate in cell B22.
4. Type each Lead Source in column "A".
Some examples include: Referral partners, client referrals, lists, events, digital marketing (SEO, paid ads, social), etc. 
5. Type the % estimate for how many leads come from each Lead Source in column "B"
6. Column "C" will calculate how many "Qualified Leads" you need from each Lead Source
7. Column "D" will calculate how many new clients you could gain from each Lead Source
8. Add any notes in column "E"
9. In the excel sheet, B22 and C37 should be the same number

Download the Lead by Lead Source Estimator

Marketing Leadership

The fourth building block in The Strategic Marketing Playbook is Marketing Leadership. It ensures you have the right resources, team culture, and action plan to get results. Learn more below!

Marketing Leadership Deliverables

  1. Marketing "Quarterback" 
    • The person who ensures that marketing outcomes are met, responsibilities are done well and the team is high performing
  2. Resource Plan & Structure 
    • A system that outlines how certain activities are directed in order to achieve the goals of an organization
  3. Development Plans 
    • Identify skill needs for the organization and the individuals and develop a plan to enhance the skills
  4. Skill Development 
    • Skill training for the team to enhance performance and deliver business objectives
  5. Coaching 
    • Helping leaders at all levels build on their abilities to do exceptional work
  6. Hiring & Resourcing 
    • Finding, selecting and hiring new employees and/or external resources
  7. Onboarding 
    • Integrating a new person with a company and its culture, providing the information and tools needed to become a productive team member

Click Here for The Strategic Marketing Playbook Overview

Marketing Plan

The third building block in The Strategic Marketing Playbook is the Marketing Plan. It's a roadmap for delivering results, including tools to track and analyze marketing effectiveness. Learn more below!

Marketing Plan Deliverables

  1. Business Inputs 
    • Business priorities, initiatives, assumptions, source of business analysis, desired outcomes and metrics
  2. Priorities & KPIs  
    • How marketing will deliver the business goals by moving people through the funnel and key metrics that help measure effectiveness of the priority activities
  3. Annual Calendar 
    • Visual representation of what you will communicate across all channels over time
  4. Budget 
    • Estimated costs to deliver the marketing plan, broken out by month and type of expense
  5. KPI Tracker & Dashboard 
    • Tracks & displays marketing KPIs in a visual way to give a new real-time view into how your marketing efforts are performing
  6. Marketing Research & Insights Plan 
    • Plan to gain the required information and insight about the market, upcoming trends, customers, stakeholders, employees, etc.

Click Here For The Strategic Marketing Playbook Overview