The Difference Between Strategy and a Tactic and Why it Matters


Strategy is the why.
Tactics are the how.

The strategy is the logic behind the actions that you take. It’s the bridge between your goals, priorities, revenue, and resources and how you will accomplish your goals, prioritize your priorities, increase your revenue, and better leverage your resources.

Your Goal is What?!?

As a part of our Discovery process, one of the first questions we ask potential and new clients is “what are your goals?” We’re looking to identify both short-term and long-term goals. The reason for this is that short-term goals help us identify what will give you quick wins, while long-term goals tell us what will set you up for success.

One client we worked with expressed that one of their goals was to post to Instagram six times per day. My response was, “Why?” for which they didn’t really have an answer. The first issue here is this is not a goal, it’s not a strategy. This is a tactic. Why does the company feel posting six times per day is going to benefit them? Is the ability to post the accomplishment or the likes, shares, or mentions? This hadn’t been defined. Also, in most cases, there is no reason to post that often to this particular platform.

The Reality of Influencer Marketing

Second, I eventually figured out that they were trying to become an influencer. Yes, influencer marketing is the hot buzzword and tactic right now, but there are a few issues with this as a goal. Most influencers are an individual or a pet. There are exceptions to this where a brand or a business can yield the power of an influencer, however, that was not the goal. It also wasn’t in alignment with the purpose of the organization. So, pursuing this direction would create a disconnect between the brand and its audience. When there’s a disconnect, it breaks trust and encourages the audience to look elsewhere for solutions.

Let’s take a moment and talk about influencer marketing. Yes, it can be a powerful tactic and it’s important to consider both the pros and the cons.

The simple premise of Influencer marketing is—the influencer has X number of followers, Y% of engagement levels, and engaging their services will cost you $Z. Rarely do they discuss metrics like conversion rates, click-through rates, or actual purchases. And, even if they did, there is no way to verify this. Also, these numbers are always changing so if you try to verify any of this, it could be significantly less or more than what they tell you.

So what you are really paying for is impressions. An impression simply means that a post appears on a user’s screen. That’s it! It doesn’t guarantee they’ve looked at it, read it, watched it, followed your account, clicked through to your website, or anything else. Think of it like good old-fashioned word-of-mouth marketing.

For new brands or brands in highly competitive industries, it does give them reach and views, but never in the history of social media has likes ever been proven to have a direct correlation to revenue. Also, just because the influencer may have thousands or millions of followers, there is no guarantee that ALL of them will see it. The algorithms favor the user experience, not the influencer reach.

Working with influencers may give your brand a short-term boost, but that’s it. You are essentially trading relationship-building for exposure. Each time you work with them, their credibility in promoting your brand is reduced because they are then perceived as a walking advertisement. Your brand also becomes intertwined with their personal lives—positive and negative.

The right influencers can increase your target audience, build trust, and in some cases increase sales, short-term. But on the other side, not all audiences respond well to influencer campaigns as they often use tactics to fake followers and it’s known that they are being paid to promote the product, so their message is often perceived as disingenuine. And, because of the short-term impact that they have, it means you have to have a constant library of influencers that you work with.

Your Operations Could Make or Break Your Marketing Success

Third, simple tasks that should’ve required one person and only took a few minutes required 3-5 hours to complete. Designing and writing a single Instagram post took almost four hours, making their goal of six per day impossible. To send one email to their list took three people and five hours if everyone was available. Different teams were using different tools and what organization-wide tools they did have didn’t have the capabilities that the organization needed. This created unnecessary bottlenecks in accomplishing tasks.

Just Give Me the Results

What this company thought was a strategy, was actually a tactic. It wasn’t working because it wasn’t in alignment with the brand, they didn’t have the technology or operations to efficiently support it, and it was based on a vanity metric.

In working with them, we had to redefine their goals, build an actual strategy, and revamp the technology and operations so they could execute tactics in an efficient manner to accomplish their newly defined goals.

Download our free eBook, Hidden Truth About Why Your Marketing Doesn’t Work to learn more.

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