Marketing Maturity Model

David Daniel

February 13, 2024

Marketing can feel like a black box, and many owners are unsure whether they have what they need for their business to succeed.

The Marketing Maturity Framework is a strategic tool that aids businesses in assessing the effectiveness and maturity of their marketing practices.

Knowing where you are in the journey lets you know what you need to move forward. This guide will outline the phases of marketing maturity.

The Existential Phase

The existential phase is where everyone begins. It’s the foundation of what we bring to market. 

Starting a business comes with unique challenges. A lot of money is saved by starting with clarity. But without it, you’re rudderless.  

Understanding the existential stage is crucial and includes elements like:

  • What/Why? What’s the problem in the market that others are not adequately solving? What do you, the founder, want? Why do you want this?
  • Who cares? Which customers care about the problem you’re going to solve?
  • Map your offerings. What is the thing we’re looking to take to market? Most founders create too many offerings early and become distracted. You must have a core offering.
  • Uniquely Better (UB): To be uniquely better, you must have something an audience truly wants or needs. Specifically, name how what you offer is better.
  • Key Deliverables. The elements of an offer where the customer benefits. 
  • Solution Statement. A summary that succinctly defines the problem in context to the solution you are providing. 

You can graduate from this stage when you have a solution statement that captures all these elements for each offering.

Learn more about the existential phase on marketing maturity.

The Discovery Phase

Let's validate our ideas by engaging with actual market members.

In the Discovery Phase, we move beyond the theoretical underpinnings of our product or service to truly understand the pulse of the market. Here are the essentials of this phase

  • Critical Path: When it comes to the critical path, it’s essential to understand the audience’s journey for a particular offering.
  • Guaranteed Outcome = Impact + Benefit + Value. This concept involves assessing the impact your deliverables have on your target audience, the benefits they provide, and the value your customers would assign to them. Your Guaranteed Outcome refers to the confidence you have in consistently delivering.
  • Identify 1st Success Metric: What’s a measurable way to describe the initial moment your ideal customer experiences the value your offer provides?
  • Validation & Risk-Tolerance: You need to determine how much risk you’re willing to take and what level of validation is necessary to achieve confidence in your solution. 

Don’t skimp on the discovery phase, as it will set the foundation for everything that follows in your marketing strategy. You can only move forward when you have obtained a level of validation that aligns with your risk tolerance.

Learn more about the discovery phase on marketing maturity.

The Adoption Phase

In the business world, market adoption is a crucial stage companies must go through to succeed. It’s also where most businesses are currently stuck.

You're taking everything from the previous two phases and placing them into a live format for mainstream adoption.

The essential elements of the adoption phase include:

  • Monetization Programming. How do we win our position in the market? 
  • The Compelling Narrative. A compelling narrative engages your audience and encourages them to take action. It is also a controllable action that a business can take to communicate its message effectively.  
  • The 1st Economic Milestone. COGS + Overheads + profitability goals for the next 12 months.

When you hit this milestone, it means you have won your position in the market and have a solid foundation on which to build.

Learn more about the adoption phase on marketing maturity.

The Sustainability Phase

Sustainability has become an increasingly crucial concept in today's fast-paced and ever-changing business environment. For your business to survive and become sustainable, you must take the essential steps below.

  • Establishing Community. You are building a community that is engaged and that you have access to.
  • Research + Maximizing ROI. Focus on analyzing your revenue streams, optimizing your processes, and reducing costs.
  • Turn-Key GO (Systems). Build systems and processes so our Guaranteed Outcome (GO) is turn-key, and nobody in the organization is irreplaceable.
  • A Growth Spiral With Integrity. A business has a rhythm to it. It runs in cycles. Each time you iterate, the community grows, and the system becomes more efficient.

When you’ve stacked enough cycles in the growth spiral, you become a sustainable business.

Learn more about the sustainability phase on marketing maturity.

The Scalability Phase

For founders and visionaries, navigating the scalability phase is a conscious decision to own a market. It is a transitory stage from Sustainability toward Saturation.

In order to scale, you must prioritize these essentials.

  • Champion Community. To champion a community requires you to understand and engage that whole community.
  • Retention & Recruitment. If you plan to deliver extraordinary value at 10x or 100x your current volume, you must recruit and retain employees and customers.
  • Resource/Specialization. The strategies that worked in infancy are not the ones that will carry a company to maturity. 
  • Beware of Neglect. You will be evaluating if what got you to sustainability is what will take you through scaling to saturation.
  • Market Domination/Scale. What is the metric or goal that indicates you have achieved market penetration? It's not just being the favorite by popularity but being #1 by volume.

The scalability phase is pivotal in the journey towards market dominance. It calls for deliberate actions and calculated risks, an unyielding investment in people, and a tireless pursuit of scaling without losing identity.

You graduate from scalability when you can prove you met your goal for market dominance.

Learn more about the scalability phase on marketing maturity.

The Saturation Phase

Now, you are in the position of owning the market. So you have a big target on your back. 

To stay at the top, you must focus on the essentials:

  • Own the Community. To fortify your market share, community ownership requires active participation.
  • Politics. Politics are the competing agendas inside a community. Understanding and tactically engaging in these ‘politics’ is as crucial as managing your P&L sheets
  • What’s next? If you're not moving forward, you're falling behind. It's time to focus on ideation & line extension, audience expansion, and existential stewardship.

Why will we matter 100 years from now? Saturation involves future-proofing your existential position. 

Learn more about the saturation phase on marketing maturity.

The Events

The events can happen in any phase of the Maturity Model but become more common during the Saturation phase. These events include

  • IPO, M&A or Succession
  • Market Change
  • Transition Marketing
  • Leadership shift

The purpose of the event is to protect the integrity of everything you’ve built. It’s interrupting your regularly scheduled programming. So now the priorities shift or change to weather the event and then move forward.

Learn more about the the eventsphase on marketing maturity.

Action Plan

Navigating through the complexities of the Maturity Model is a dynamic process that requires foresight, adaptability, and strategic planning.

From laying the groundwork in the adoption phase to demonstrating tenacity in the sustainability phase, all the way to achieving market leadership in the scaling and saturation phases, business leaders must remain vigilant and proactive.

The journey is punctuated by various Events that test organizational resilience and require nimble responses. Ultimately, the goal is not just to survive but to thrive and leave a lasting impact—a legacy that resonates for generations.

By mastering each of these phases and thoughtfully engaging with each Event, businesses can aim to weave enduring success into the fabric of their enterprise.


Helping businesses tell their Better Story.