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If you know me, you know I love to cook. And, as any great chef will tell you, cooking is exciting because once you’re comfortable with some basic ingredients and techniques, you can almost always whip up something fabulous. Recently, I was working on a menu for a special event, and I wondered: What does marketing have in common with cooking? Does successful marketing follow a recipe, or does it rely on ingenious use of basic ingredients? So, I looked back through 21 years of client marketing plans and outcomes to see if I could discover any key predictors of success. Sure enough—behind almost every win, I found three basic ingredients:

  1. Purpose. Successful marketing efforts stand out from the mediocre when they have a distinct purpose, and every action takes a step towards that purpose. Organizations with complex challenges and multiple initiatives are especially prone to losing focus—and sacrificing effectiveness.
  2. Context. Marketing efforts are more likely to take hold if they’re strategically placed into opportunity-rich context, rather than just launched into space. Research prior to creative development goes a long way toward ensuring a perfect match between opportunity and approach, audience and message, channel and delivery, etc.
  3. Strategy. I think that we all recognize that planning the perfect campaign is moot if it can’t be rolled out with sufficient scope, brand resonance or appropriate timing. Yet rollout strategy continues to be most organizations’ largest opportunity area!

So, I challenge you to “taste test” your own marketing approach.

  • Purpose: Do your tactics pursue and attain one milestone at a time?
  • Context: Do you know what your audience knows or how they feel?
  • Strategy: Does your implementation plan actually move the needle?

Last year, in celebration of Linden’s 20th year in business, we “taste tested” our own marketing approach. Then we walked Linden through the same process we apply to our customer’s challenges.

Step 1. We began by measuring our agency’s purpose. We service lots of different clients, but we truly shine in assisting niche marketers in the three industries: Healthcare, Natural Resources, and Education.

Step 2. Next we created rich context by blending insights with creative development. We used research to confirm—just as we’d do for our clients—that our audiences need and value our deep, industry-specific subject matter expertise to meet their goals. So we updated our brand look and messaging to reflect the kinds of {thoughtful and compelling content} we create for them.

Step 3. Now we’re implementing a strategy to share that expertise with people—like you—who can benefit from it. A strategic rollout does require planning and patience, but we know it will be worth the wait. Because you’re busy doing business, your program may not currently be where you’d like it to be. (Ours wasn’t perfect either.)

But sustainable communication strategies, results-oriented campaigns and authentic brand experiences are within reach. Especially if you have an insightful team at your side, rolling up their sleeves to solve your complex marketing and communications challenges. Do you need a team like that? We’re ready if you are! 


We love our dogs, espresso-inspired conversations, long walks downtown, cocktails on the patio and finding joy in the details. We take our work seriously and we take life as it comes.