In most pyramids, the top gets all the attention, but it’s the foundation that truly matters. Marketing is no exception.

The base of the pyramid, the most important layer, is INTENTION.

What change are you seeking to make? Does the team have clarity, measurements and resources to prioritize this?

Intention comes with design thinking. Who’s it for and what’s it for? Have you identified the smallest viable audience and built a product and created and designed a service infrastructure around it that works beautifully for this audience?

Your story is intricately linked with your intention. If you don’t know who it’s for and what it’s for, the story can’t resonate.

A story doesn’t work when it’s your story. It works when it becomes their story.

Then comes RETENTION. Because existing customers are worth far more than new ones. If you are constantly losing the folks you worked so hard to attract, you’ll have to work even harder to find people to replace the ones who just left.

And then comes REMARKABILITY. The conversations that happen as the result of your work. The network effect is the most powerful force for growth that most organizations ever encounter, but people aren’t going to talk about your work unless they believe it will help their goals to do so.

If you’re fortunate and focused, retention and remarkability will earn you PERMISSION. The privilege of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to the people who want to get them. This is the asset of the future, because building and maintaining teams to spam the world is exhausting.

And then, only then, do you have the ability to focus on tactics, words and images. What’s the narrative that engages with people eager to join you on this journey? Where is their status? What sort of affiliation do they seek?

Finally, in tiny print, hardly worth mentioning, are hype and hustle and the rest. Ignore them if you can. By volume, by priority, by effectiveness, this is nearly worthless noise, despite the fact that it gets so much attention from pundits who have rarely successfully marketed much of anything.