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Unifying Our Discipline: Marketing, Fast and Slow Growth Framework

Drew Leahy
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In the last chapter, we talked about the long and windy road that led to the unraveling of our discipline. In this chapter, we're introducing the principles and fundamentals that will reunite every part of marketing so it actually works: Marketing, Fast and Slow.

Let's go!

What is Marketing, Fast and Slow?

Marketing, Fast and Slow is a media-agnostic, cross-departmental, evidence-based framework that simplifies, codifies, and connects every part of marketing- big and small - so that it actually works. 

Most importantly, it’s a framework for sustainable growth. 

What do we mean when we say sustainable growth?


  • Long-term sales growth 
  • Market share increase
  • Deeper penetration (new customers) 
  • More profit and cash flow 
  • Reduced price sensitivity
  • Increased loyalty/retention 

Sustainable growth is a dance between mental and physical availability. 

That means growing share of mind with increasingly bigger parts of your total addressable market (TAM) while growing share of wallet with products, pricing, and distribution. 

The more doors you can open to your brand and your products, the more growth you’ll achieve for longer. 

Easy, right? Hah. 

Put another way…

Nearly every business sells to a smaller section of their TAM called a serviceable addressable market (SAM). This is the part of the market you can reasonably serve with the products, pricing, and distribution you have today.

But, inevitably, every brand outgrows their SAM. 

For example, the startup who niches down to manage limited resources eventually outgrows their niche and needs to expand their buying pool. 

Consequently, sustainable growth is about reinventing your SAM, over and over again, until it becomes your TAM (or as close to it as you need). 

Eventually, you won’t sell to niches, subsections, channels, or regions, you’ll just sell to the market. All of it. 

To do that, businesses need to balance their marketing between brand building, demand acceleration, and demand capture. And that’s exactly what we’ll explore in Marketing, Fast and Slow. 

How is Marketing, Fast and Slow different?

In an industry so infatuated with “new,” Marketing, Fast and Slow zooms in on the unchanging principles that govern how businesses grow. 

But there’s more… 

Evidence-based marketing 

Flywheels, funnels, loyalty loops… 

They served us well when we didn’t have a large body of evidence to disprove their effectiveness. But now we do.  

The foundation of this growth framework was, in part, inspired by rigorous research from a small group of marketing scientists, econometricians, and research analysts that many of you reading this have probably never heard of before: 

For a group self-professed as “data driven,” we marketers sure love to ignore the data. 

Our mission is to take the most recent and compelling evidence showing how brands grow and make it relevant to every marketer, no matter their industry, specialization, or experience level.

We’ve been living in the era of evidence-based marketing for well over a decade now. 

Meanwhile, dozens of marketing subspecialties have emerged in the digital space that have totally ignored the fundamental principles put forth by the evidence. 

That changes now. 

More than marketing communications

How many marketing or growth frameworks have you seen that address the role of product, pricing, and distribution? 

We haven’t seen any. 

Scary, considering that all three have a greater impact on long-term sales than marketing communications. Which is why they sit right in the middle of our framework. 

You can’t talk about growth without talking about the role of the other Ps. 

Too many businesses look at product, price, and distribution (physical availability) as a way to differentiate. 

That’s great, but we don’t. At least not exclusively. 

Instead, we look at physical availability as a way to open doors to purchase. 

Think about it: You can build a strong brand with all category buyers (mental availability) and still lose their business because you didn’t have the right product at the right price in the right place. 

While mental availability opens doors to your brand, physical availability opens doors to purchase. Hence the Mario-like tunnels in the diagram. 

The green and blue tunnels represent the buying situations in which your supply matches the unmet needs of the buyer. 

The red and orange tunnels represent the buying situation in which your supply didn’t match the unmet needs of the buyer. Maybe you didn’t have color variations, or maybe you didn’t sell through Amazon, or maybe you didn’t have a lower price tier. 

Either way, you lost an opportunity at capturing market demand because you didn’t have the right physical availability. 

Channel and media agnostic

MFS is a channel-and-media-agnostic growth framework. 

That means that there are no hard and fast rules about which media mix or tactics to apply to which sections.

The marketing funnel went to hell when marketers tried linking pieces of media to each stage. 

We’re doing the opposite: unlinking media and channels. 

Marketing has suffered from a silo problem for far too long because it’s an industry made up of largely subspecialists, not generalists. 

MFS is on a mission to unify marketing by exploring the broad concepts that make this work, no matter your subspecialty and no matter whether it’s online or offline. 

That’s why we call it marketing’s “superstring theory.” 

It’s the theory of everyone, not some of us. 

We need more generalists, and MFS is how we get there. 

Customer focused 

Customers find themselves in one of two stages: in-market or out-market. 

They’re either in-market, actively seeking products or services that you sell, or they’re out-market, without a need, uninterested at the moment, but capable of entering the market in the future.

Today’s customers vs. tomorrow’s customers. That’s it. 

Not every customer goes through a rigorous evaluation process. 

Not every customer moves in a linear path from awareness to consideration to purchase. 

Not every customer reads your blog, subscribers to your newsletter, listens to your podcast, or downloads your whitepaper. 

But every customer does find themselves either in-market or out-market. So those are the two stages we emphasize in this framework. 

Marketing fundamentals

MFS explores the core concepts that underpin marketing effectiveness, and ties them all together. 

If we’re going to get marketers to adopt a universal language across specialities, it needs to be a simple one, and it needs to start with the fundamentals. 

Build brand. Accelerate demand. Capture demand. Simple. 

No matter where you specialize, your job will work towards doing one of those three things. 

Depending on your industry, market, business model, stage, or resources, how you put MFS into practice will vary drastically. 

But no matter what, it will always serve as a box to be creative within. 

To take a step forward, we all need to take a collective step backwards: marketing fundamentals. 

Who will Marketing, Fast and Slow help most?

Everyone who touches marketing or growth. Seriously. 

Our goal was to create a universal language among the evermore specialized dialects in our industry. 

That means Marketing, Fast and Slow should be used as a lens to view marketing through or a box to be creative within. 

If you’re a planner, use Marketing, Fast and Slow to guide your strategy. 

If you’re a social media specialist, use Marketing, Fast and Slow to inform your strategy. 

If you’re a paid ads specialist, use Marketing, Fast and Slow to guide your strategy. 

If you’re a CEO, use Marketing, Fast and Slow to guide your strategy. 

And, most importantly, use it together, across departments, to ensure everyone in your business is moving in the same direction. 

Why did we call it Marketing, Fast and Slow

Why did we name our growth framework Marketing, Fast and Slow?

Two reasons. 

First, because for the last decade and change, specialization has ruled the day, and it’s time to put the emphasis back on our discipline: marketing. 

We’re not reinventing marketing. We’re restoring it. 

We’re not declaring it “Dead” only to rename it something new. 

And we’re not telling the narrow story of one part of marketing; we’re telling the broad story of it all. 

No disrespect to the nuance in marketing. But let’s be honest: marketing needs a generalist more than it needs another specialist. 

Second, the title is a nod to famous psychologist and author Daniel Kahneman. 

Who here has read Kahneman’s famous book, Thinking, Fast and Slow?

If you haven’t, pick it up now. 

In his book, Kahneman investigates the two systems in charge of how we think: System 1 and System 2. 

System 1, the fast brain, is unconscious, automatic, and emotional. 

System 2, the slow brain, is deliberate, intentional, and logical. 

Not surprisingly, System 1 and System 2 both play a critical role in marketing effectiveness. 

For example, future buyers who are out of market, without need, and uninterested in buying don’t want to engage in slow, deliberate, or logical thinking about your brand. However, in-market buyers who are actively seeking solutions will since they’re investigating a purchase.

That’s why brand building works on the System 1 brain while sales activation works on the System 2 brain, and demand acceleration straddles them both. 

Ironically, it’s brand building that drives slower but more sales whereas sales activation drives faster but fewer sales. More on this in the chapters to follow!

In sum, Marketing, Fast and Slow is a hat tip to Daniel Kahneman’s ground-breaking book, but it’s really a hat tip to the person who matters most: the buyer. 

The marriage of brand and demand 

We could keep rattling on about Marketing, Fast and Slow, or we can just show you it?

Over the next three chapters, we’ll dive deep into each respective stage of Marketing, Fast and Slow

Our hope is that most of you reading this will learn more about the mechanics of sustainable growth over the course of the next three chapters than most marketers have learned in their entire careers. 

The result?

More confidence. Better result. Simple. 

Let’s go! 

Chapter 2: Unifying Our Discipline: Marketing, Fast and Slow Framework >>>

Chapter 2:
Unifying Our Discipline

Marketing needs a media-agnostic, cross-departmental, evidence-based framework that simplifies, codifies, and connects everyone in marketing- specialist to specialist – so that it actually works. Luck for you, we have it: Marketing, Fast and Slow.

Chapter 3:
Building A Brand

Ask 100 marketers what brand building means, get 100 different answers. In this chapter, we provide a better, more practical definition of “brand” along with the steps needed to build one. The secret to long-term, profitable growth isn’t more sales today; it’s a stronger brand tomorrow. And we have the proof. 

Chapter 4:
Accelerating Demand

Demand generation is all the buzz. But in this chapter, we explore why brands can’t actually create demand, how supplying demand accelerates adoption, and how in-market and out-market demand acceleration follow two different playbooks.