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October 17, 2023

Strategy or Tactics? Yes, it really does matter!

If I were to ask you, “How are you going to achieve your revenue goals next year?,” how would you answer? You might say something like:

  • “We’re going to expand into a new vertical industry.”
  • “We’re going to launch a new service line.”
  • “We’re going to implement a key account program for our biggest clients.”

Those are all great answers. And those are all marketing strategies. And yet, when most [non-marketing] professionals are asked about marketing, they respond with answers like “email” or “social media” or “advertising.” Those are all marketing tactics.

Strategies are the WHAT. Tactics are the HOW.

So, for example, ‘advertising in Quirks’ is a tactic that supports the strategy of ‘building awareness.’ One tactic can support several strategies, and each strategy can be supported by multiple tactics.

Why is this so important?

Simple… because starting with strategy provides you with a framework for growth. First, you define your strategies, then you determine which tactics you’ll use to support them.

I think of it this way… strategies are ‘directional statements.’ Go off in the right direction (i.e., a good strategy) and even if your tactical execution is only so-so, you’ll still have some level of success. But, go off in the wrong direction (i.e., a bad strategy) and no matter what sort of tactics you employ, you’ll fail.

Every single company – yes… every one of us! – is subject to certain strategies all the time. These go-to-market strategies include:

  • Building awareness in the markets we serve
  • Establishing and reinforcing a position/reputation
  • Generating sales leads
  • Nurturing those leads until they are ready to buy
  • Acquiring first-time clients
  • Ensuring repeat clients

As you think about these strategies for your business, what tactics do you envision you’ll use to support them?

In addition, there are other strategies you might employ that are specific to your company, your clients and your competitors. For example, you might:

  • Expand into a new vertical industry
  • Position your CEO as the expert in the area of X
  • Focus on client retention
  • Leverage your experience to become specialists in one methodology

These all depend on what’s happening around you.

The Bottom Line

Whatever your goals are in 2024, you’ll reach them faster and more effectively when you start your revenue growth efforts by focusing on strategy. Then, once in place, build a tactical plan (tactics, timeline, budget) around doing the things necessary to support them.

If you’re thinking of jumping into the tactics without establishing your strategies first, remember what Sun Tzu said in his book, the Art of War… “Tactics before strategy is the noise before defeat.”

Wise man.

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