What’s the difference between strategy and tactics? There are lots of great textbook answers to this question, but I’m not going to waste your valuable time quoting any of them, let alone adding to them with my own definitions.
The real difference, the only one that matters in the end, is the difference to the business that applies them – the difference in sales, costs and profit.
A major research study conducted over many years, with businesses of various sizes and operating in many different industries concluded that there is actually a critical difference. To briefly summarise the findings, we need to break tactics into two groups – efficient and inefficient; and similarly break strategies into two groups – effective and ineffective. This gives us four possible combinations for any business.
While the first two combinations are fairly predictable, the 3rd and 4th combinations are very interesting:
Marketing strategy vs. tactics
Effective strategies and efficient tactics – the ideal situation which generally leads to a thriving business.
Ineffective strategies and inefficient tactics – the nightmare scenario, which usually results in the demise of the business
Effective strategies and inefficient tactics – the study shows that in this scenario, the business will usually survive.
Efficient tactics and ineffective strategies – in this situation, the outcome is still the demise of the business
The only difference the study found between scenarios 2 and 4 was the rate at which the business died. In other words, if the strategy is wrong, changing the tactics only delays the inevitable.
So what does this mean for marketing? In simple terms, businesses that have the wrong marketing strategy are doomed, and changing the tactics (where they advertise, introducing new promotions, price reductions, updating the website etc.) will only change the speed at which it happens!
We work with many good businesses who recognise that years of changing tactics still isn’t bringing them the results they desire, providing marketing consultancy that gives their marketing real direction.