Find New Marketing Strategies with the 2×2 Matrix

Warning: this content is older than 365 days. It may be out of date and no longer relevant.

Find New Marketing Strategies with the 2x2 Matrix

Let’s take a moment to consider the simple, humble 2×2 matrix. This business strategy tool is heavily used, from publications and speeches to every case study you’ve ever read in business school. Every major consulting firm has thousands of 2×2 matrices on Powerpoint slides laying around.

Yet the reason why it’s so overused is because it works so remarkably well at solving two problems: binary thinking and one-dimensional thinking.

Overcoming Binary Thinking

The first blind spot the 2×2 matrix helps us overcome is a tendency towards binary thinking:

  • What’s the solution to this problem?
  • What’s the answer to this question?
  • Should I do more of X or more of Y?
  • When’s the best time to post on Instagram?

These are all questions that hint at binary thinking, looking for a simple, black and white answer – when the answer may not be binary. The simple 2×2 matrix helps to get us thinking differently by breaking us of the habit of assuming there is just one answer when there may be a spectrum of answers.

  • There may not be a best time to post on Instagram, but a series of them.
  • The best choice may not be X or Y, but a little bit of X and a little bit more of Y.

Here’s a simple example. Have you ever had a heated debate with a significant other about what to have for dinner? Rather than argue, put your choices in a 2×2 matrix based on proximity and price. Now it’s not a binary question, but a spectrum of possibilities:

Dinner possibilities 2x2 matrix

Using the 2×2 matrix to discuss a marketing or business challenge – or any challenge – opens our mind to more possibilities, rather than a definitive answer.

## Overcoming One-Dimensional Thinking

The second blind spot a 2×2 matrix helps us to overcome is a tendency towards one-dimensional thinking. Especially in analytics, we tend to focus on a single metric at a time, like website visitors or Twitter followers or Facebook Likes. We focus on ROI or net revenue or daily downloads, and we look at a metric often to the exclusion of other related metrics that can help lend additional context.

The simple 2×2 matrix expands our mind a little bit by exploring how metrics work together. What else might impact that metric? What is the relationship between one metric and the next? If we see a strong relationship, what might that tell us about how we should implement our marketing strategies?

Consider two very simple metrics from our Google Analytics data, new visitors and returning visitors. These measure different behaviors of an audience;  new visitors tend to be a result of our marketing efforts, while returning visitors tend to be a result of the quality of our content. Rather than focus on just one metric alone, what if we plotted out these two dimensions?

New and returning visitors 2x2 matrix

By laying out these two metrics and the relationships they have to each other on a basic 2×2 matrix, we develop a framework for evaluating important metrics together. I’d next take my blog by page and plot it using the chart above as a reference:

New and returning visitors plot

The 2×2 matrix gives me a plan of action:

  • I can now categorize my content and repair the content that is in the bottom left quadrant first.
  • I can add more promotion to content in the bottom right content.
  • I can tune up and refresh content in the top left quadrant.
  • Once everything is fixed, I can find new ways to elevate the content in the top right quadrant.

Use the 2×2 Matrix to Overcome Blind Spots

Just because a tool is overused doesn’t mean it’s bad at what it does; its overuse may indicate that it should factor prominently in your own work. Keep the humble 2×2 matrix handy, and the next time you’re stuck looking at a problem from one dimension or in a binary way, bring it out and see if it expands your thinking.

You might also enjoy:

Want to read more like this from Christopher Penn? Get updates here:

subscribe to my newsletter here

AI for Marketers Book
Take my Generative AI for Marketers course!

Analytics for Marketers Discussion Group
Join my Analytics for Marketers Slack Group!


One response to “Find New Marketing Strategies with the 2×2 Matrix”

  1. Insightful blog! especially the point about avoiding one-dimensional thinking.
    An additional advantage of a 2×2 matrix is that it gives you different options to go from an actual situation (bottom-left) to the desired situation (top right): either by focusing on improving one dimension and the other one subsequently, or by improving both dimensions at the same time (diagonal path). A 2×2 matrix helps to visualize these options, discuss them with your colleagues or client, and reach a conclusion on which option is the most appropriate.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This