Pillar:  a supporting, integral, or upstanding member or part

Businesses are built on critical pillars that support their success. But the thing about the 6 pillars of business is that if one isn’t sound, it will increase the load on others and ultimately force them to fail over time.

As Boston-based digital marketers, we recognize that marketing is just one element of business success. Great marketing without a strategy, a recognizable brand, and a clear picture of who your audience is becomes little more than pretty pictures. And, even if your marketing and creative is well-informed, if you don’t have the internal systems needed to tell your stories, nurture and support your staff, and critically, deliver for your clients every time, you’re headed for an expensive, uphill battle.

Aligning and optimizing these fundamentals will help your business succeed in today’s competitive and — dare we say it — uncharted, unstable environment.

Think about it. You probably wouldn’t buy a house with a crooked, cracked, or bowing foundation, would you? Slapping on a coat of paint just hides the problems; it doesn’t fix them.

Your business is the same way. You have to have a solid foundation to drive consistent growth and return on your marketing investments. This is why we focus on 6 pillars of business for long term success: marketing, creative, technology, operations, strategy, and customer success.

pillars of business success

What are the six pillars of business success and what do successful business pillars look like?


1. Technology


In the modern business world, your technology choices are some of the most important you will make. An optimized technology infrastructure can mean the difference between operating like an efficient, well-oiled machine, with consistently great customer experience and a marketing strategy that delivers a consistent return on investment, vs. one in which you’re always playing catch-up, losing market share, and constantly spending good money after bad.

Marketing technologies can help you automate campaigns, plan and distribute content, and keep tabs on how your audience is engaging with your website in real-time. These tools can help you increase the sophistication of your marketing strategy and reduce strain on your organization. A true win-win.


2. Operations


You often hear the phrase, back-office, or back of the house. What a misnomer! What happens behind the curtains can have direct, measurable, and often a quite visible impact right on center stage. Operations refer to the people, processes, equipment, and systems you use to keep your organization running smoothly.

Poorly implemented, non-optimized, or neglected business operations will increase your overhead costs and harm your business reputation. And, consumers aren’t kind to poorly-run businesses. Go check out the very public reviews of the last business that left a bad taste in your mouth… Consumers have a powerful voice and the platforms to express themselves. You don’t want to be that company that succumbs to operational pitfalls and has to constantly apologize to its customers because of it. Even if you’re a small business owner, you most likely still desire your business to operate like a well-oiled machine. Part of being successful can also mean looking at what other small business owners do right and then make it even better.

Looking ahead, it certainly appears that the distributed workforce is here to stay. So, whether you’re office-based or largely remote like our team at inThink, there are a variety of tools that can keep you connected with your team and clients and manage projects, including setting deadlines, workload distribution and plan resources more efficiently.

Tools like Asana and Slack, for example, improve internal communication between different teams. Loom can help you create quick videos to explain new or complex concepts to both employees and clients. Investing in a full tech stack, marketing technology, and efficient apps will:

  • Improve security
  • Increase competitiveness
  • Save time
  • Save money
  • Improve customer interaction and retention
  • Improve performance and guide your staff in the right direction


3. Creative


It’s estimated that the average consumer sees between 4,000 and 10,000 ad impressions every day. A truly unbelievable number. And the number of channels and platforms through which that exposure happens continues to expand and evolve. Think about it — not long ago social and streaming platforms didn’t even exist!

Standing out from the competition isn’t easy. To do so, your brand has to be strategically developed and then consistently positioned across all channels, offline and online. Your visual brand and your voice need to scale and be recognizable no matter where a customer or prospective customer finds you. And in such a fast-paced, crowded environment, it has to have to stop power and consistent branding.

4. Customer Retention & Success

customer success

80% of surveyed consumers say the experience a brand provides is just as important as the quality of its products or services.

In marketing, we talk a lot about filling pipelines, lead generation, and conversion rate optimization, but if you aren’t also consistently meeting and exceeding the expectations of your customers, you’re going to be caught in a vicious cycle of acquiring new customers that don’t retain and constantly needing to spend at the top of the funnel. In order to achieve success, there’s no way you do so without customer retention and success.

Customer acquisition is costly and it’s hard work. But, if your organization is set up to foster loyalty in your customers and develop advocates for your brand, the value of your investment increases exponentially. To do this, you have to understand the needs of your target audience and the unique journeys they take to get those needs met, and you’ll want to develop a strategy to meet them in those key moments along the way.

5. Strategy


This strategic pillar is the one that informs your why and how. Every organization has goals and aspirations, but to achieve them you have to have a roadmap, an approach, and milestones along the way. Your business strategy must be customized because your values, goals, customers, and offerings are different than any other brand’s. It’s not something cookie-cutter that you can download in a convenient PDF. A sound business strategy requires looking under the hood of your business and making sure the engine is built for maximum efficiency and growth.

Your strategy has multiple elements from your brand strategy and positioning, to how you acquire new leads, to understanding your customers and prospective customers, to identifying opportunities to expand into new markets or new product or services offerings.

6. Marketing


Ah yes, your marketing.

Your marketing is how you bring your strategic plans to life; how the bridge between who you are and who you want to attract is built. Your marketing plan identifies a set of channels and tactics to meet your desired audience and engage them through your marketing and your content. As a customer finds her way from researching a problem or needs to narrowing down her list of solutions, your marketing needs to be there to meet her.

Critically, your marketing also must have a defined set of key performance indicators and a measurement strategy. Part of what makes modern marketing so exciting is how dynamic and flexible it is. With defined goals and performance metrics, your success will be driven by your ability to adapt to changing conditions and opportunities uncovered in your data.


The Six Pillar Approach: Strengthen, Streamline, and Grow Your Business

We believe in our Six Pillar Approach as an effective way to diagnose your business’s strengths and weaknesses. Peering under the hood of your company at the different components that make it run is one of the most powerful ways to generate actionable insight. With these findings, you’ll have what you need to build a strategic plan for growing your business.

In fact, we are so confident in our approach, we guarantee results for our clients and have done it for many entrepreneurs with small businesses like yours before.

Let’s build your small business success together. Start by taking our free business diagnostic assessment today. See in just a few minutes where we can help improve and optimize your business’s six pillars for maximum growth and revenue.