The topic of Strategies vs Tactics is nothing new in the field of marketing and it has a long history to it. In layman’s terms, it can be called as “the egg and the hen story” of the marketing world. This topic has confused many marketers, even the ones who have been working in the industry for a very long time. Now let’s try decrypting this topic.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN STRATEGY AND TACTIC
Most of the marketers use the word Strategy or Tactics in an interchangeable fashion which doesn’t seem right to me. When I researched about this, what I have understood is that strategy is the plan or a complete blueprint used by a company/an organization to achieve a set of goals over a certain period of time. Tactics, on the other hand, are the tools used and decisions made towards achieving these goals.
To simplify this, I am sharing an example below:
In any sport, a sportsman or a team first decides on their goals, which is, to win the game. Then they strategize “HOW” they are going to win the game? Perhaps, by limiting the opponent to certain points or runs. Finally, tactics come into the picture, where they think “WHAT” has to be done in order to limit the opponents to a certain point which will lead them towards the win.
STRATEGIZE, TO BE CALLED AS UNIQUE AND NOT THE BEST
Every company needs strategies in order to become successful. Michael Porter, Harvard Business School, in his speech in this video, clarifies many things about strategies and how not to perceive them. He says that every business has competition and every business wants to become the best in their respective industry. However, he also includes that if your company’s strategy is to become the best then it is a dangerous way to think about competition in a business environment. According to Michael Porter, there is no way to be the best. But if you are able to serve your customers’ needs in a better way than your competitors and earn their trust and loyalty, then your company becomes a successful company. In other words, what he is trying to say is that a company’s strategy should be, to become unique and special in its own way by having a competitive advantage than strategizing to compete with its competitors to become best in the industry.
This brings us to next topic, which is “Competitive Advantage”. In this video, David Kryscynski, Brigham Young University, defines competitive advantage as “When a company achieves higher profits than the average competitors in the product market.” If you are wondering how companies achieve higher profits, the same video will answer your question. It will also answer questions like – why people tend to buy Apple products when they can choose products with similar features from other competitors of Apple for a lesser price. Another answer to look forward in this video is – why Ferrari doesn’t make affordable cars for everyone and instead serves only a niche market.
THE STRATEGY PLANNING PROCESS
The strategic planning process can get bit complicated if not sorted out well. There are many companies in the business world with no proper strategies yet. It is very much advised that your company has a strong strategy planned for its growth. Every company out there wants to have a better future, perform better and grow big. In order to reach there, a company needs to make a strategic journey and have a planned road-map to its desired position. For example, in the game of soccer, let’s say there are Team A and Team B with 11 players on each side and the aim is to win the game. Let’s assume that Team A has a better strategy plan than Team B.
Let’s break down a good strategy plan below which Team A should adopt in order to win, which will be similar for a company planning its strategies to win as well.
Step 1 – SELF ASSESSMENT
Firstly, Team A should analyze themselves as a team and understand where they stand today. Knowing where you stand as a company or a team is the most important step in any strategy planning process. This can be done by SWOT analysis, where “S” & “W” stands for Strengths and Weakness’ respectively. This helps in analyzing the company or the team from within (internally). Externally, the team or the company should be examined to know the areas of Opportunities (O) and Threats (T) in order to begin with a strong plan.
Step 2 – HAVING A VISION
After examining yourself as a team or a company and getting to know your vital stats about the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats – a vision has to be developed, which in this example, is to win the game of soccer for Team A. Also, each player from the 11 – player team should be communicated about the team’s vision.
Step 3 – DEFINING THE OBJECTIVES
This is about what you want to achieve by the end when you reach the desired growth and this can vary with 4-5 different objectives. In this case, it can be something like achieving the best player award or making 5 goals during the game or not having any off side fouls. When it comes to the company, the objectives can be replaced by having good finances, bigger workforce, better costing, etc.
Step 4 – MAKING “SMART” GOALS
Every long term goal can be achieved only when recurring short terms goals are achieved. Short term goals help a team or a company to be realistic in their approach to win. The goals for the soccer game, for example, can be to dominate the first 30 minutes of the game, defend aggressively, score 2 goals in the first half of the game, etc. Similarly, the company can have short term goals such as create a unique brand image in the first year of business or improve the quality in production within 2 years, etc.
One of the most important things to keep in mind while setting goals is to make sure your goals are “SMART“, which stands for Specific – Measurable – Achievable – Relevant – Time-bound.
For a better understanding of complete strategic planning process, do watch this video here.
I hope this post has helped you understand the difference between strategies and tactics.
- Owyang, Jeremiah. “The Difference between Strategy and Tactics” http://www.web-strategist.com. N.P, 14th January, 2013. Web, 19th September, 2016.
- Olsen, Erica – Virtualstrategist. “Overview of the Strategic Planning Process” https://www.youtube.com. N.P, 5th September, 2012. Web, 19th September, 2016.
- Wayne LEADS Human Resources – Wayne State University, “S.M.A.R.T Objectives” http://hr.wayne.edu. N.P, N.D. Web, 19th September, 2016.
- Kryscynski, David. “Generic Strategies Mini-Lecture” https://www.youtube.com. N.P, 8th November, 2012. Web, 19th September, 2016.
- Porter, Michael – Kirenz Consulting. “What is Strategy? Michael Porter explains common misunderstandings” https://www.youtube.com. N.P, 5th November, 2015. Web, 19th September, 2016.
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