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Your strategy is bullshit

How to write a 1-page strategy that will help you win.

Way too many marketing strategies are … bullshit.

Most businesses have competitors. A strategy should tell you how to face off with these competitors in the marketplace and come out on top. Simple, right?

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 1-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:

1. Analysis

  • David can’t beat Goliath using his size or raw strength, but he has an advantage in speed as well as accuracy from a distance.

2. Guiding principle

  • David shouldn’t engage in close combat, but rather use tools that will allow him to strike from a distance.

3. Coherent actions

  • David shouldn’t use any heavy armour because that would slow him down.
  • David should use a slingshot, a weapon he is familiar with and can be used to strike from a distance.
  • David should leverage the element of surprise and don’t advertise his advantage beforehand.

If you write 1-2 clear sentences per bullet, your strategy should fit nicely on one page. Please note: This is not a plan — the plan comes later based on the strategy.

The above can easily fit on one page. Please note: The carry-out details could be outlined in the plan — and the plan always comes later.

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Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer aka Doctor Spin is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

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