I’m writing to share two tools that I use when developing marketing strategies. I hope these will come in handy and I’d be delighted if there are other tools that you use that might compliment these.

A Word About Strategy

Different people mean different things by strategy, so I want to be clear about what I mean. Strategy originates from a military context and focuses on linking engagements together to advance progress towards a specific goal. In other words, in the military context, strategy would guide decisions about whether or not to engage in a particular battle (there are many battles in war), as opposed to tactics which guide how each specific  battle is fought.

One key to developing a solid strategy is understanding that resources set the limits to what can be accomplished. Thus strategy is about making choices regarding how to allocate limited resources over time. I would say that the best strategies are characterized more by saying “no” than saying “yes.” In other words, there are generally many options that you could pursue, but only one that you will pursue. The hard part is sticking to your decisions! The first tool will help you prioritize your options and make a decision about which one to pursue. The second tool will help you stay on track once you’ve set your strategy.

A Prioritization Tool

This tool allows you to visualize potential strategic steps based on their feasibility and importance. You start by listing out all your potential strategic steps, or short-term goals, in the left hand column of the table. From there you assign each a feasibility and importance rating. The key is to setting a budget for these ratings. In the example below I have seven potential steps to be considered and I’ve allotted each a budget of five points. Thus, my total budget for each column is 35 points (7 items x 5 points = 35 budget). Once I have the table filled out, I plot the steps on the chart to the right. This allows me to place them within three priority zones. At the end of the process, I’ve identified the two steps to pursue. Click on the image to enlarge it:


A Management Tool

This tool allows you to lay out the short-term strategic goals that advance your long-term strategy. It also allows your to visualize  the tactics that support each strategic step, understand how they are dependent on each other, and the relative resources required to complete them. The arc is essentially a time-line for managing projects, like all time-lines it can be very helpful to work backwards from your long term goal. Each way-point along the arc marks the completion of a step towards the ultimate goal. Each step is tied down to a set of tactics, and the dotted lines connecting the tactics show how some tactics are dependent on others being completed first.

By using size to estimate the resources that are required by each tactic, it is possible to visually understand where you’ll need to staff up or down. For example, at the least step in the example below the need for resources is less than half of the need at the second step. By visualizing tactics it is possible to move their placement along the time-line to even out work flow and resource requirements.


Thanks for reading, and please send me info about any tools you use for strategy projects.

The first time you leave a comment, it will be placed in a moderation queue. Once we know you are not a bot, you will be free to comment at will from then on.

4 Comments to Two Strategy Tools

  1. Sima says:

    Very useful and well articulated. Thank you.

  2. […] not going to go into depth here about the strategy process because I’ve already written a post about that here. In this post, I share a prioritization tool that will help you identify which investments to make […]

  3. […] the past, I’ve written about how strategy is more about saying “no” than saying “yes”, but it’s rarely easy to explain the complex of reasons that underlie strategic decisions […]

  4. […] I find this tool most helpful as a validation tool that sits at the end of other strategy practices. […]

Leave a Reply