Traffic Lights

Traffic Lights

Traffic Lights Exercise.

A tool for creative marketing

As with many of the tools and techniques considered on Marketing Teacher, traffic lights is a simple and effective approach. It’s just like the traffic lights exercise that are seen in millions of streets throughout the world, and is a basic metaphor for red, amber and green. Red means ‘let’s STOP it,’ Amber means ‘PROCEED WITH CAUTION, but make some improvements,’ and Green means ‘Go’ or ‘Let’s carry on with this activity.’


Traffic lights is a creative marketing tool that can be used in a number of ways.


  • You could conduct a personal traffic lights exercise based upon your own personal or professional development.
  • The exercise can be run at any stage of the marketing planning or creative process. So you could run it as you begin marketing, during a marketing campaign, and at the end of a marketing programme as you review or control your marketing activities.

Traffic lights has a number of benefits to marketing managers:

  • It encourages a creative approach to marketing
  • Traffic lights is simple to use
  • Traffic lights is quick to learn
  • Traffic lights cross cultures, since most countries use this common approach to traffic control.
  • Traffic lights transcend interdepartmental and disciplinary differences so that it is a common platform for decision-making.

The starting point is to decide upon an activity on which to base your traffic lights exercise. Some examples include:

  • How do we improve our marketing planning?
  • How do we make our marketing communications activities more effective?
  • In what ways could eMarketing be made more efficient?
  • How could I become a better marketing manager?
  • How could I improve my grades?

Okay, now you’ve read the lesson, have a go at the exercise (with answer).

Traffic Lights, Example – Serendipity

So let’s consider a company called Serendipity that markets Ski Wear. Serendipity conducted a traffic lights exercise upon its core marketing activities. Marketing managers and interested individuals from purchasing, sales management, finance and R&D met in a training room, and recorded their views under the headings red-amber-green. The results are as follows:

Red – STOP

  • Get rid of any distributors that favour competitor brands over our own.
  • Withdraw product lines that make a loss.
  • Remove our branding from any none-ski wear clothing.
  • Stop sponsoring amateur or low ranking skiers, and enhance the exclusivity of our brand.

Amber – PROCEED WITH CAUTION, and make some improvements.

  • Reduce the number of distributors that have Serendipity agency agreements. Start backing our proactive winners that really wish to endorse our brand and make it central to their business.
  • Promote or reposition products that are mature.

Green – Go or Let’s carry on with this activity.

  • Reward our best distributors, and develop as the bases for long-terms relationships.
  • Develop and enhance products that are highly profitable.
  • Let’s continue to sponsor top skiers that enhance our brand values.