Strategies vs. Tactics: What’s the Difference?

Source: Strategy vs Tactics. Digital image. 168 Opportunities. 168 Opportunities, 28 Apr. 2014. Web. 19 Sept. 2016. <http://168opportunities.com/064-strategy-vs-tactics/>.

Often times in the business world, the terms strategy and tactics are frequently used interchangeably. Many organizations make the error of calling something a strategy when usually it is not. What exactly is a strategy? It is not as clear cut as one might think, as many people have their own understanding of what a strategy is.

A simple way to define strategy is by asking “How will you win?”. In terms of a company’s strategy, people are asking “How are you going to win to achieve your goals and do whatever you created the business to do?” (Ryan). People who work in business use the word strategy to describe an organization’s highest goal in its market, whether it is a start-up company, multinational firm, government agency or a university (Ryan).

So what are tactics? Tactics are the particular actions you take to execute your strategy. These actions consist of what is to be done, in what order, using which tools and personnel (Brydson). Strategies and tactics must work together hand in hand; otherwise your organization cannot work proficiently to accomplish any set goals. According to Jeremiah Owyang, “if you have strategy without tactics you have big thinkers and no action. If you have tactics without strategy, you have disorder.” An example of tactics used in social media marketing can be as simple as writing content for blog posts, sending tweets on Twitter, and creating and scheduling a social media calendar using Hootsuite.

Source: Social media marketing. Digital image. Social Media Today. Social Media Today, 9 Mar. 2016. Web. 19 Sept. 2016. <http://www.socialmediatoday.com/social-business/5-big-reasons-have-solid-social-media-marketing-strategy>.

An example of a marketing strategy is to increase traffic from unique visitors to your organization’s website. Some tactics to help increase traffic include: having a website link featured in television ads, adding a website link to your Twitter bio, and sharing video blog posts to people on Facebook and making sure to monitor for people asking questions and responding (Southwell).

It is important to also note that strategies are often timeless, as in people would still react the same way as they did 100 years ago, whereas tactics are more technology and time sensitive (Southwell). Even if you change the time frame (e.g. 1980, 2013) the strategy implemented would remain the same whereas the tactics needed would most likely have to change. In Charlie Southwell’s example of a strategy – to engage customers in store to increase sales, the tactics used would depend on the time period and technology available. For instance, in the 1980s, a tactic used would be having electronic screens to update your specials boards. However, in 2013 you would utilize mobile apps and use social media engagement as a form of customer service (Southwell)

In the end, I would describe a strategy as the long term mission that you want to achieve, and tactics as the various day-to-day actions you must use in order to meet those goals.

References:

Brydson, David. “Strategic and Tactical Planning: Understanding the Difference.” SmallBizLink. Monster, 9 Feb. 2010. Web. 18 Sept. 2016. <http://smallbizlink.monster.com/training/articles/855-strategic-and-tactical-planning-understanding-the-difference>.

Owyang, Jeremiah. “The Difference between Strategy and Tactics.” Web Strategy by Digital Business The Difference between Strategy and Tactics Comments. Web Strategist, 14 Jan. 2013. Web. 17 Sept. 2016. <http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2013/01/14/the-difference-between-strategy-and-tactics/>.

Ryan, Liz. “What’s The Difference Between Strategy And Tactics?” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 17 May 2015. Web. 17 Sept. 2016. <http://www.forbes.com/sites/lizryan/2015/05/17/whats-the-difference-between-strategy-and-tactics/#528c982e7f82>.

Social media marketing. Digital image. Social Media Today. Social Media Today, 9 Mar. 2016. Web. 19 Sept. 2016. <http://www.socialmediatoday.com/social-business/5-big-reasons-have-solid-social-media-marketing-strategy>.

Southwell, Charlie. “Marketing Strategy vs. Tactics – Explaining the Difference.” Charliesaidthat. Charliesaidthat, 16 Sept. 2013. Web. 18 Sept. 2016. <http://charliesaidthat.com/digital/digital/difference-between-marketing-strategy-vs-tactics-an-example/>.

Strategy vs Tactics. Digital image. 168 Opportunities. 168 Opportunities, 28 Apr. 2014. Web. 19 Sept. 2016. <http://168opportunities.com/064-strategy-vs-tactics/>.

  • Hello Steph,
    I liked your blog post and the graphics, and the links. I found the graphics really helped to brighten up the page and make me scroll down and read more. – Rick Trus -www.richardtrus.com