Ride your bike

Or: Intro to Social Enterprise Marketing Campaigns

Learning to ride a bike is one of the stereotypical moments of childhood. You can probably remember when you learned how to ride a bike. You probably had someone helping you stay upright by pushing you along. Then you learn how to pedal fast enough to stay upright on your own. You also learn that sometimes you just need to bail into a nearby lawn.

There are a bunch of moving parts that all work together to ride a bike. You have pedals, gears, the chain, some wheels, the handlebars and the frame. Marketing is a little like riding a bicycle.

Let me explain. When you’re marketing, you have a specific goal in mind. Usually that includes awareness or sales. You can think of the goal as the distance you are travelling on your bike. Your goal could have a limit, like being able to do a regular commute (recurring monthly sales,) or it could be an indefinite and growing goal, like always trying to go 2k further each ride (or a percentage increase in website visitors each month.)


So how do you get started with riding a bike? You start by pushing on the pedals. Pedaling a bike is putting energy into moving the bike forwards. In marketing, your pedaling is going to be the individual tactics that you use to start creating the outcomes that will lead to your desired result. We will be going over what those could be in a later article.

Of course, all the pedalling in the world won’t push you forward if you don’t have a chain. The chain is the strategy that links your various tactics and efforts into spinning the wheel, giving you the outcome you are looking for. It is only when your tactics are linked together by a guiding strategy that you can achieve specific outcomes.

The outcomes that you achieve through spinning the tire result in your bike going forward. Similarly, your strategic marketing efforts, with multiple outcomes will eventually start to produce the result of moving towards your goals.

Just like you need enough speed to keep a bike standing, you need to have momentum for effective marketing. Typically, people who see your first marketing message are not going to do anything. The same goes for the second time, third time, ect. Most marketing research states that a potential customer needs to have 7 or more touchpoints before they are comfortable enough with a brand to buy in. With social media, the number of touchpoints are likely higher, as there are so many messages that fly around, many are instantly forgotten. Because of this, your marketing needs to have some momentum before you start to see the movement towards your goals.

To visualize this, imagine you are planning a trip to grandma’s house. Your route has a bunch of hills. It is going to take a lot of effort to get up the first hill, but once you get there, your momentum will carry you down the hill, and partway up the next one. Similarly, once you stop pedaling, you don’t lose your speed all at once. In marketing, each of your efforts should be supporting each other, so they’re all more effective. This will allow you to push through the first hill, and then use the momentum of your ongoing campaigns to push through the valleys and propel your business up the next hill. With each hill you pass, you will have gained more supporters for your business and your brand, allowing you to take on larger hills and challenges.


Riding a bike is a pretty intuitive process once you’ve learned the basics, and marketing can be intuitive too. This series of articles will teach you that just like riding a bike takes repeated effort on the pedals to get to grandma’s house, you need repeated efforts to do effective marketing.

We’ll go through the steps in reverse order, starting with where we are going, and how we measure it. Then we’ll focus on the small scale outcomes that together create results towards our goals. Then we’ll examine the strategies that we can use to create the outcomes, and the individual actions that we need to take to create a cohesive strategy. Finally we will walk through a couple examples of what it looks like to build a marketing campaign from start to finish.

By the end of this series you will be able to create your own marketing campaigns using this framework, and have the tools to evaluate whether your campaigns are working or not.


Key assumptions for this series:

  • You are looking to be profitable

  • You must make an impact to achieve your mission

  • You use business methods to achieve your impact


This is the introduction to a 5 part series on Marketing Campaigns for Social Enterprise. Links to the following sections will be included here as they are released.

If you have any questions about social enterprise marketing, please email me at Matthew@strategymadesimple.ca, or tweet at me @MatthewRempel