Business Strategies and Tactics

Did you know that many start-ups do not make it to their first year because they fail to understand the crucial difference between tactics and strategies? Focusing on one over the other is the most common mistake. Many in fact just focus on tactics and ignore strategic planning eventually causing their demise.

My grandfather was in the air-force and sometimes we’ll talk about the tactics and strategies used during World War II. He was also a good chess player and he’d often relate our games to his stories. It was from these short discussions and chess games that I learned the crucial difference between the two and how to use which and when.

Before I go into my own definition of these two words, here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia:

The terms tactic and strategy are often confused: tactics are the actual means used to gain an objective, while strategy is the overall campaign plan, which may involve complex operational patterns, activity, and decision-making that lead to tactical execution.

Source: Wikipedia

The Big Guns Think About Strategies

Strategists focus on the big picture. They plan on how to win the war, win the game or win the market. It is the strategists job to think of every possible outcome and plan accordingly to achieve their ultimate goal. They make the big decisions like choosing which offer to grab and which to ignore. They make the call on whether to sacrifice the queen or not. It is their job to know. The good strategists know that they are always responsible for every outcome and will take the blame if their plan didn’t work out.

That said, it is obvious that a strategy defines what you want your business to become and how to get there. Strategies relate directly to the main goal of your business. A business without a clearly defined strategy will fail because it will have no direction, no clear goal and no clear methods of achieving them.

But No War is Won With Generals Alone

At the other end of the spectrum are the tacticians. They are the ones who think of how to implement the strategy. If the general says, “take the bridge” then it is up to the tactician to think of “HOW to take the bridge”. In business, the strategy could be translated to something like “rank #1 for the following keywords used by the competitor”. The tactics needed to implement said strategy could involve things like link-building, keyword research and perhaps even some borderline methods of ranking on the search engines.

Ranking #1 however is not the overall goal but merely a part of achieving the big picture.

A good tactician understands the goal and knows the field. They are not afraid to make the necessary decisions to achieve the goal. They are the frontline men and they tell the strategists how things are actually happening. Depending on their feedback, the strategists can decide whether to switch strategies or not.

The Goal-Strategy-Tactic Relation

The best way to illustrate the relationship between goals, strategies and tactics is to think of it as a hierarchy.

  • Goal defines what you want to achieve.
    • Strategies are the plans you formulate to meet your goal
      • Tactics are the methods you use to implement your strategies.

Example:

Let’s say you have a Yoga Membership Site as your business…

Goal: Be the Number One Online Yoga Resource Provider (a.k.a. Win the War)

Strategies (Plans) Tactics (Methods)
Study the Competition
  • SEO Research (Keywords, Links, etc)
  • Know their target markets
Establish a Strong Market Presence
  • Rank number 1 on the search engines
  • Advertise on competition’s websites is available
  • PPC and CPM Advertising
  • Build a strong Twitter and Facebook following
  • Blogging and Guest blogging
  • Building a list and marketing to it
Engage the Target Customers
  • Freebies
  • Contests
  • Coupon Codes
  • Promos

Summary

Here’s a table summarizing the main differences between strategies and tactics

Strategies Tactics
Focused on the Big picture Focused on implementing the strategy
Medium to Long term Short to Medium term
Plans Method
Winning the War Winning the Battle

Hopefully this short article helped you identify, differentiate and define the strategies and tactics in your business.

Questions?

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