Most strategies are — pardon my language! — bullshit.
Last week I joined the Adobe EMEA Think Tank for our first session and we discussed digital strategy. After the panel, audience members gave positive feedback on how I explained strategies that work. I do think that there’s a lot of bullshit going around in this space. But it shouldn’t be so difficult.
It’s worth a blog post, I think.
A Strategy’s Purpose
Most businesses have competitors. A strategy should tell you how to face off with these competitors in the marketplace and come out on top. A marketing strategy should tell you how to market your products and services better than your competitors. A PR strategy should outline clearly how you expect to establish and maintain better relationships with key publics compared to your competitors.
Since strategy is such an over-used and inflated term, I think it’s fair to put it as simply as possible:
A strategy is how you win. Nothing more, nothing less.
How to win is what any strategy should tell you. The why, where, when, how and what are important questions to answer, but you can save them for the plan. Yes, lots of people tend to talk about strategies when they mean plans — and vice versa.
How to Write a One-Page Strategy
My inspiration for writing no-bullshit strategies comes from the classic Good Strategy, Bad Strategy by Richard Rumelt. This is how I set up strategies that fit on one page — using the classic battle between David and Goliath as an analogy:
2. Guiding Principle
3. Coherent Actions
The above can easily fit on one page. The carry-out details could be outlined in the plan, which comes later.