A New Plan A: Jay Acunzo’s 3-Step Success Framework

A New Plan A

As a content strategist, a lot of my conversations with clients and prospects are rooted in best practices. But in the current climate, where things feel everything but normal, Jay Acunzo believes we have to throw the best practices out the window and come up with a new “Plan A.”

During the B2B Sales & Marketing Exchange online experience, Acunzo provided a wealth of inspiring examples and a practical framework to help us get off the “spinning wheel” of work driven by experts, influencers and our conventional wisdom.  
There are so many best practices and words of advice out there, largely thanks to the expansion of new media and marketing channels. They’re all “spokes on a wheel,” Acunzo said, and “that wheel is crushing us.” Ouch.  
To successfully break this wheel, we need to incorporate new variables based on our current context—as a business, as a team, as individuals. We need to stop thinking in terms of benchmarks and absolutes and focus more on developing plans based on our current context. Acunzo shared three key things we need to investigate to do this successfully, but the foundation of it all is a solid goal: the change you want to create for your audience. Because when we develop goals based on metrics, we fall into the trap of “gaming the system,” and doing reactive campaigns and tactics to hit those numbers. 

A New Plan A
Image courtesy of marketingshowrunners.com

Once you have a goal, clarify the following:


“You” means the person or team doing the work. Determine your “aspirational anchor,” or your rallying cry for creating your positive change. Establish your intent for the future and what about your industry you’re dissatisfied with.

Acunzo walked through how the Merriam-Webster marketing team evolved from its old, dry way of social media marketing to a more fun, witty and creative approach. The mission of showing off Merriam-Webster’s witty, warm and wonderful team became a motivator and when they started experimenting with more quirky and clever content, social engagement numbers went through the roof.  

Image courtesy of marketingshowrunners.com

Your Audience

This, obviously, is who the work is for and principal insights about the “hard truths” that drive them every day. Acunzo talked a lot about how businesses should focus more on affinity than awareness, zeroing in on the individuals who stay engaged and loyal to the brand for the long term.

Haircare brand Naturalicious is building trust, community and affinity by focusing on social media. Founder and CEO Gwen Jimmere wanted to change the way black women look at and care for their hair. Through a Facebook community, as well as YouTube and Instagram content, Naturalicious has built a strong community of brand fans thanks to its focus on providing education, love and support.

Image courtesy of marketingshowrunners.com

Your Resources

This accounts for the time, budget and resources it takes to get things done. And for many marketing teams, all three are scarce right now. But Acunzo shared a great point: When we know and acknowledge where we’re strained for resources, we can find creative ways to work around them.

He shared the story of Anthony Berriola, owner of Razors Barbershop in Somerville, Massachusetts, who needed to find scrappy yet impactful ways to stand out from all the other shops in the area. He had no budget but had a love for the craft.

When he went on trips around the world, he found barbers and recorded their skills, sharing them in a series called “Anthony Shaves the World” (so clever)! He reached out to bands and musicians touring through Boston and offered them free services if they did a free mini concert in his shop. He recorded these sessions and used them for music and standalone video clips. He’s even done pop-up comedy shows in his shop. Berriola knew what he was lacking, and he put in extra time to be creative.  

Anthony Shaves the World
Image courtesy of marketingshowrunners.com

I think we can all agree that between the deadlines, pivots and stresses of everyday life, being creative can be hard. I know I personally fall into the trap of doing “what works” just so I can get through the day. Acunzo’s perspectives and stories inspired me and got me raring to work on my new Plan A. 

If you want help to expand your own approach, consider attending one of our customized, one-to-one B2B marketing workshops. We can tailor them specifically for you to brainstorm about the challenges you and your team want to prioritize and reimagine your new Plan A.


Alicia Esposito

Alicia Esposito is VP of Content for Retail TouchPoints. Formerly a Senior Content Strategist for Content4Demand, she oversaw the content and editorial strategy for B2B clients in a variety of industries. She also helped company partners and clients with their content strategy and creation efforts and has a passion for crafting immersive and relevant content experiences using new approaches to storytelling, interactive formats, influencers and more. When she’s not dwelling over all things branding, messaging and content strategy, she’s spending quality time with her family, binging on Netflix or eating guacamole.


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