The Difference Between a Strategy and Tactic?

Like in a chess game, small business and Internet entrepreneurs must focus on smart moves -- strategies and tactics that deliver the best bang for their precious time and resources.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the importance of creating or updating your strategic marketing plan in today's tough economy. It was a lengthy post, fleshing out the components of a marketing plan. I mentioned I'd follow-up that post with a close look at strategies and tactics. So, here we go!

What exactly is a strategy, you might ask. And how does it relate to your marketing effort? Well, my definition of a strategy is that it's a big, broad idea for moving your business forward (in a series of "little" ways). Conversely, tactics are the specific activities you use to bring your big, strategic ideas to life.

The trick is to pick strategies and tactics that should deliver the best result for your time, energy, money, and other resources. A few examples using what's in my marketing plan for Pet Leopard Communications (or could be):

Strategy: Increase awareness of my products, services and talent within the Chicago advertising and public relations community.

Tactics supporting that strategy would include various publicity, advertising and/or promotional activities such as:

  • Join two Chicago public relations and advertising industry organizations and serve on committees on which I can volunteer/showcase my skills and expertise.

  • Start a blog featuring Chicago public relations and advertising agency news. Build relationships with executives by contacting them to be interviewed on my blog. Feature plenty of each targeted agency's news on the blog.

  • Run a Google AdWords advertising campaign geotargeted to Chicagoland blogs, the PR and ad agency communities.

  • Issue a series of online press releases announcing my new Chicago clients; tips that agencies can use; a promotional contest on my blog; local industry trends, etc.

  • Create and circulate a white paper or viral report showcasing great case studies, solutions, and/or creative by various local ad and PR agencies. Contact executives in charge of these successful campaigns for permission, quotes, photos, etc. and relationship building.

One could go on and on with tactical ideas. But after brainstorming your tactics, be realistic about your budget and whether you have time to implement each component. Prioritize and let some fall to the wayside for now; get busy executing those which are more likely to deliver the results you need.

Also be realistic about this: Not everyone'g going to contract or buy from you the moment you reach out. Consider every point-of-contact a seed to keep watering for growth. Better still, consider every activity a chess move in your reputation management game. Like in chess, we must think ahead with a vision, anticipating the target market's needs and possible next moves.

In summary, you can probably replace my business and industry in the above examples with your own. The strategy and tactics likely extrapolate and may work for your business model, too.

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