Tactical Triangle: The Ultimate in Marketing Simplicity

PerryMarketing Blog54 Comments

Share This Post

When Jack Born called me on the phone one day after his morning run and sketched out the triangle you’re about to see, I instantly fell in love with it.

This is the e=mc2 of marketing.

The Tactical Triangle always takes you where you need to go, and the 80/20 in the center always focuses you on the points of highest effectiveness.

I’m going to show it to you.

Before I do, I need to warn you that most people, even the very sharpest students, will not instantly “get it.” It may not be at all apparent how many things you can do with this tool. But as you begin to use it, you’ll find it’s one of the most powerful tools anyone’s ever given you:


Tactical Triangle

Traffic Economics
The Tactical Triangle

Stick with me for a few minutes as I unpack the power of this.

The Triangle says: In order to sell something, you have to get Traffic; then you have to Convert the traffic; and Economics means you have to make some money on what you sell – which is why you went into business in the first place.

When you make a profit, you re-invest it by getting more Traffic, and Converting the traffic, and further improving your Economics. And so it goes, clockwise in a circle. It’s a spiral of never ending traffic, conversion, and economics.

That’s the essence of marketing. It describes every human relationship and every transaction. You can apply it to romance or volunteering for the Peace Corps or trading favors with your fishing buddies. Today we’re going to focus on sales and marketing use it to develop a Grand Theory of Everything.

The first thing to notice about the Tactical Triangle is the 80/20 principle is in the center.

That’s a pretty prominent place. Jack put it there because we believe 80/20 to be the most important thing there is to know about business, period.

It is so fundamental to the operation of people and the world in general, it’s right up there with gravity and the laws of physics. And death and taxes.

It applies to customers, products, companies, employees. Highways, real estate, rabbit populations, tree branches, and the size of craters on the moon.

80/20 is in the center because everything revolves around getting more out for putting less in. Leverage. And finally, 80/20 is fractal. Inside every top 20% is another top 20%.

Putting The Tactical Triangle To Work

You come to me and say, “I’ve developed this cool new invention and it’s going to make millions of dollars. How do I sell it?”

We’re instantly in Marketing 101. Before we begin some lengthy discussion about Pay Per Click or autoresponders or infomercials or any other technique, I’m going to ask you three questions:

  1. Who would buy this? (that’s T)
  2. Can you reach them affordably? (that’s E)
  3. What can we say to persuade them to buy? (that’s C)

The second thing I want you to notice about the Triangle is: You needed to go counterclockwise to figure out how to sell something.

Which means the primary skill you must master in marketing is thinking backwards.

When I was a copywriting newbie, I would say to myself, Perry, youre not you, youre them. Youre not sitting at your computer, youre sitting at theirs. Youre not interested in what youre interested in, youre interested in what theyre interested in.

I pictured myself physically doing a 180. I would do that exercise every time I sat down to write. Now it’s second nature.

To build a sales funnel, you begin with the end in mind, to use Stephen Covey’s famous words. You start from the end and you work your way to the beginning.

What is "80" and what is "20" for your business right now? Take my 2-minute quiz and I'll show you where you'll get the highest compound interest on your time and money!

Then traffic comes into the funnel at the beginning and goes clockwise to the economic end.

But since selling starts with traffic, advanced marketers dont begin with the invention (i.e. the final transaction). We begin with traffic and ask ourselves: What would these people want to buy?

In other words, advanced marketers watch for situations where they don’t have to think backwards.

So yes, we all have to begin with the end in mind but it’s even better if you can begin at the beginning and decide what the best possible end might be.

That brings me to the 2nd thing I want you to notice about this, which is:

There is a customer’s perspective on the Triangle. He’s standing in front of the Triangle and he sees all this happening clockwise.

It all starts with the Traffic because he IS the Traffic.

E, T and C within each triangle

Inside every Tactical Triangle is another Tactical Triangle

The marketer is standing on the backside of the triangle. You want to envision all this happening counter-clockwise.

It all starts with the Economics because that’s the whole reason you started your business in the first place.

The third thing I want you to see is that theres a Tactical Triangle inside each element of the Triangle. The Tactical Triangle is fractal.

It’s true on every scale. Zoom in, zoom out, it’s still there. It’s true on the micro level and it’s true on the macro level.

Let’s say that your traffic is Google ads, your conversion is a website sales page, and your economics is you sell shoes.

Inside those Google ads we find another Triangle:

etc_within_trafficTraffic = people who see the ad (impressions)

Conversion = ad copy and the clicks it attracts (clicks)

Economics = bid price (cost per click)

Everything in marketing fits into the Tactical Triangle.

And every improvement you’re trying to make is found by answering the question:

“What’s the #1 thing I need to improve next – Traffic, Conversion, or Economics?”

That question always leads you in the right direction.

This is just an introductory explanation of Jack Born’s Tactical Triangle. To receive the full report, fill in the form:


Discover How to Apply the Tactical Triangle in Your Marketing

Privacy Policy

Share This Post

About the Author

Perry Marshall has launched two revolutions in sales and marketing. In Pay-Per-Click advertising, he pioneered best practices and wrote the world's best selling book on Google advertising. And he's driven the 80/20 Principle deeper than any other author, creating a new movement in business.

He is referenced across the Internet and by Harvard Business Review, The New York Times, INC and Forbes Magazine.

54 Comments on “Tactical Triangle: The Ultimate in Marketing Simplicity”

  1. Great post as always. I find it a powerful tool to get closer to the mind of the buyer so long as you do not loose your passion to sell, help or serve.

  2. Perry your triangle formula is a great concept but I’m looking to monetize your system Im not really looking for ideas and concepts more so a profitable system that I can market. Please advise thanks for any feed back

  3. I love this comment… “You know, Perry, the MBA guys don’t like my stuff that much. The venture capital guys are lukewarm about it. But entrepreneurs really seem to get it”. It’s so true that experts and pundits want to justify their existence by overcomplicating things. I also love the comparison to fractals which I learned about some time ago. It’s difficult to grasp the concept but once you do your lens is forever adjusted to crystal clear vision. Thanks so much for bring clarity not just to marketing but to virtually everything. Why don’t they teach this in school?

    Thanks Perry.

  4. As I read your tactical approach, it reminded me of an idea or “law” in communication promulgated by Peter F. Drucker. What you have to say is not really important; it’s what has been understood by the listener, on his terms, that is truly important. A good testing ground is to try your message on a Grade 6 boy or girl, and REALLY listen to their comments.
    I’m truly impressed by your work, its diversity, and its simplicity.
    Keep it flowing. We need and enjoy it greatly.
    Take care,

  5. This is great. Very good simplification of the buying cycle. This is something marketers and business owners should revisit every couple of months just as a reminder! Even if you are aware of these core concepts, it’s easy to lose track in the hustle and bustle.

    Thanks Perry!

  6. Thank you for so succinctly summarizing such a large topic. When I consult I look at each of these elements for folks (and in much detail) and look for places for improvement but before the Tactical Triangle I didn’t put much thinking into the cyclical nature of my work. Love the fractal perspective! You rock Perry! It was a pleasure meeting you in Austin.

  7. Have been your student for a while. And realize the procrastination side of me lives in the 80 side of the 80/20 rule. Actually doing the 20 percent that makes a real difference really takes some initial struggle to build the inertia to move the mind into the 20 “zone”.
    Not fuly there yet.

  8. Elegant, simple and yet effective, I like it. I am into self healing, getting more out of life and I see many similar processes here, thank you.

  9. I just read your Triangle 80 – 20 bombshell, fortunately for me I removed the detonator by buying your adwords program in December 2009 – its now July 2010 – I am still working on it. Never have so few paralysed so much for so many, 20 80. This is the hardest thing I have ever done, if it had not been for the Americans – U.S. involvement I don’t think I would have got through to this new E world. Thanks Guys, I am off to have a controlled explosion now in my own small economic triangle- I have never in 38 years, known things so quiet in the Cap-Ex market!

  10. Great post Perry, can’t wait til i’m making good money again to buy your more pricey stuff, i’ve got the graphic and now i’m off to read the book.

    i like how you offer the ‘9 great lies’ mini course along with my post too, very smart.

  11. Segio,
    Add Terry Dean too. This product: http://www.payperclicksearchmarketing.com/r/NakedTruth.php?NQ==y (Perry’s affiliate link I presume) is Glenn, Terry, Fred Glick, Glenn’s wife Sharon (who night be smarter than Glenn if that is even possible) and ‘Mr. X’.

    Lol. A great 12 hours, even if you already know it all, the nuances are worth getting the tapes (listen during any commute you might have).

    (Besides hearing the Livingston’s little dogs go in and out the electric doggie door in the background.) ;)


  12. Perry,
    I am working at staying focused while learning forward. What a task.
    You have presented such great blogs. I must return more often.

    Thank you for sharing
    georg E

  13. Perry,

    I’m a new student of you and Brian, I have also realized that Glen Livingstons, is someone to ad into my mastermind mentors group.

    Thanks for all your hard work and dedication to teaching. It is difficult to find people to intrust my learning curve too, so when I do I pay very close attention.

    Your crew of thinkers tips the scale in favor of the new and patient entrepreneur.


  14. I might have to take drugs or something in order to become more tactical. It’s just not as much fun as trying the latest, greatest technique and rolling from one computer to another in my home office (wife calls it the dungeon)while implementing and testing it. But point taken…..I’ll make more money by being more focused. Thanks for the triangle and thanks for the latest .mp3’s.

  15. I’ve developed a simple tool that has an extreme level of usefulness and power:

    Problem>Marketing Channel>Pitch variation

    Is the problem perceived?
    Are people looking for a solution?
    How much are people willing to pay?

    Marketing Channel:
    Where are similar solutions being effectively sold?
    how much are competitors moving?
    What are the critical success factors?

    Pitch variation:
    What pitch gets the best return for what segment in what marketing channel? It usually takes 3 to 5 pitches to find one that works well.

    The above model makes everything I’ve done and looked at easy to understand and classify.

    Most internet marketing products are about marketing channels and pitch variations.

    Most marketing channel critical success factors can be summarized on 1 page.

    In my experience, effective pitch variations are slightly tweaked ineffective pitch variations which usually cause a dramatic change in the prospects perspective.

    Your model has similar elements, but the emphasis may make it less useful and reduce its power and effectiveness.

  16. I quote Perry: …”So yes, we all have to begin with the end in mind but it’s even better if you can begin at the beginning and decide what the best possible end might be.

    I quite agree, how else?

  17. In the pdf, there was a line about “maximum profits from consulting gigs.” I assume the notification you spoke of in the report is for renaissance members only. Will I have already missed it if I subscribe this month?

  18. Thanks, Perry…

    An awesome concept that I can use immediately. Clear, concise, easy to understand, and to the point. This will make a difference in my business and our 947 consultants operating in 32 countries… both for their own businesses as well as their clients’ businesses.

    As always, the information you share is top notch. Thanks again!

  19. I am an art lover and I always find that the art I am most drawn to is usually pretty simple at first glance. After looking at it a little longer, however, I start to notice some complexity.

    I believe that your triangle is similar to my favorite art — complexity simplified and made easier to understand.

    Thanks Perry!

  20. Perry, So True!

    This is exactly what I have been doing on my site this week, I ran a competition (yes I had to INVEST, TIME, MONEY =E) to get the triangle moving.

    Well the results speak for themselves, as I got back more than I put in.

  21. Perry,
    Very interesting concept, I can definitely see how it works at every level of marketing. Jon Ward and James Burgin also use a triangle in their course, also very interesting.

  22. Recommend reading the 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch if you have not already done so, it will make even more sense then when you study Perry’s triangle!



  23. Perry,

    Spot on tool! It really does give you the ability of making it so very clear! It is at this point that all of a sudden people find marketing becomes an “investment” and not a “cost” So many companies see marketing as a pure cost, restrict that and by doing so they are actually restricting their sales, their profits and their ability to grow!

  24. The 80 /20 rule applies to a lot
    of things in life this is good information.
    Im going to download this to learn more.
    keep up the good writing
    i look forward to your next posting.

  25. Perry,

    This is really amazing…!!! this short message really impressed me, why? the way we as internet marketers see things are quite different from that of our customers.

    For us, ‘economics’ and ‘conversions’ are important, but for customers, ‘traffic’ is all about.

    Perhaps that’s the reason we need to thing backwards, eh..!!…

    Thanks a lot and have a great day…



  26. Timely information, much appreciated. If I might add that in order to succeed in anything you will need to know your customer. Frank Kern of Mass Control fame speaks of making an idealized version of the perfect customer, giving him or her a name and even picturing their clothing but more importantly their needs, desires and fears.

  27. I’ve been thinking about this matter just a few days back and it seems much clearer to me today. Thanks for the report Perry.

  28. Perry (& staff),
    The 80/20 + Tactical Triangle is how I conduct my efforts. I have just never seen it laid out this way.
    Your persistent emails are, believe it or not…a breath of fresh air. I appreciate your insight, advise and your comfortable “soft-sell” approach.
    Once I can get a handle on handling all my new customers…you will see me at a BobSled Run, front row center…sharp pencil in hand! :)
    Thanks for all the help, and making it enjoyable!
    All the best~

    Ron Hansen, owner

  29. I often have a hard time trying to figure out what I should do next in my businesses. And I think this visual (with more explanation from the free report) will help me make those decisions. If I knew where to focus my time and energy I might have an easier time sticking to just one thing until I need to focus on the next part of the trial.

    So I’m definitely getting that free report.

    Thanks for sharing this Perry,


  30. Perry,

    Ecclesiastes – “There is nothing new under the sun” – What’s the point? Well, first Jack Born needs to give proper attribution, at least in part to Ken McCarthy. Ken was touting Traffic + Conversion = Profits long before (as usual for Ken) this appears.

    Just like Dave Taylor didn’t give proper attribution to Mitch Axelrod at System 2007 when he attributed the statement “Imperfect Action trumps Perfect Inaction all of the time” to Ken.

    I agree with your comments on the model – especially appreciate your willingness to expand somewhat on the “How”. Too many want to just sell people “What” to do and not explain how to do it, until they get loads of money on the back end. Your approach is always refreshing, direct
    and to the point. Love the way you weave stories into it. Keep up the good work!

    Best Regards,


  31. Just got your Renaissance newsletter yesterday and devoured it this AM, all about the tactical triangle. You are right, this will take some study to get.

    Great stuff about headspace as well, very powerful, had me scribbling notes.


  32. Perry,

    “What’s the #1 thing I need to improve next – Traffic, Conversion, or Economics?”

    What a seemingly simple question. Yet how elusive in the day-to-day milieu. I’m going to write this down in black marker on the biggest Post-It note I can find and stick it on my coffee maker (the first thing I “relate to” every morning). Thanks for your regularly scheduled insight and exemplary tactical guidance.

Leave a Reply

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