Principles of strategy

Last year, I had the chance to read the book Principles by Ray Dalio, which covered many of the lessons Ray learned throughout his career of investing and business-building.

(Kindle version here.)

What I loved about the book was his approach to decision-making and how it centered on this idea of principles. Here’s a brief explanation of how he thinks about principles:

1. Slow down your thinking so you can note the criteria you are using to make your decision.

2. Write the criteria down as a principle.

3. Think about those criteria when you have an outcome to assess, and refine them before the next “one of those” comes along.

This way, whenever a new decision comes your way, you may be able to recognize its similarity to a decision you’ve made in the past, and then you can apply the same principles you used successfully before.

Voila! A shortcut to better decision-making. :)

The book is a #longread, and there are many, many different categories of principles that Ray talks about. One particular category that has stuck with me is his principles for strategy.

Here they are:

Principles for strategy

Don’t put the expedient ahead of the strategic.

Consider second-and third-order consequences, not just first-order ones.

Beware of paying too much attention to what is coming at you and not enough attention to your machine.

Remember that the WHO is more important than the WHAT

All of your “must-dos” must be above the bar before you do your “like-to-dos.”

These have been useful for me as I’ve weighed strategic decisions at Buffer recently.

Hope they can be helpful for you as well.

Smart goal-setting in action: How to make progress on a giant goal

When it comes to breaking down a gigantic goal into actionable, measurable steps, things can feel a bit daunting. To quote Carl Sagan:

If you wish to make apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe.

No pressure, right!

Similarly, what if you have one of these goals:

  • Grow Monthly Active Users (MAUs) by 10x
  • Increase Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) 50% year-over-year
  • Dominate the customer service market
  • Reposition your brand to serve the Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) space

Where do you begin? Continue reading

How to make a marketing roadmap

One of my favorite marketing articles from 2019 – you can see the full list of favorites here – was a post on Tom Tunguz’s blog about marketing roadmaps.

You can check out the full post here.

The gist is this:

A solid marketing roadmap contains a clear picture of how your product makes life better for your customers. Then you take that vision, turn it into messages, and distribute the messages far and wide.

I went through the full exercise recently, armed with the knowledge of our target customers and our recent conversations about brand beliefs, mission, and taglines. Here’s what I came up with.

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The 10 Most Common Fallacies and Biases for Marketing Leaders

These are the fallacies and biases that plague all of us and are particularly trippy for marketing leaders.

They are the infamous “unknown unknowns,” which I am hoping — by virtue of this blog post — may now at least be known a bit better.

For a full list of fallacies and biases, I highly recommend the book The Art of Thinking Clearly. It’s been foundational for the customer research we do at Buffer and for the way we approach problems as clear-minded as possible (we think). Many of the fallacies below were pulled from the book.

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Marketing predictions for 2019.

1. Micro content is back.

Not everyone has time for longform, 2,500-word, SEO-heavy articles. What people do have time for is short stuff. Think: 500-word articles, recaps of stories, daily roundups, etc. Summaries will reign in 2019. When creating content, keep in mind that attention spans are short, and we’re in the golden age of multitasking. Abbreviate, abbreviate, abbreviate.

Examples: Sip by Product Hunt, the Reforge blog, New York Times’ The Daily, Quartz Brief.

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