Picking up where I left off in this post here about layering marketing and sales strategies, Marketing Strategy Part 2: Combinations, let’s start getting more specific.

You may be wondering why I’m being so particular about what I consider a strategy versus a tactic. What difference does it really make?

But what if I told you that the difference is the reason so many people struggle with overwhelm, scattershot business activity, frustration, and often seeing something fail that really could have succeeded?

That’s why I’m so precise about it, and make such an effort to apply the terms correctly, to the best of my ability at the time.

The Difference Between Strategy and Tactics

You see both strategy and tactics can help us achieve our business goals, but strategy helps achieve meta goals whereas tactics help achieve micro goals.

A good way of understanding the difference is to consider the type of question represented by each type of goal.

A meta goal question might be: “How do I increase revenue without doing outbound sales?”

The answer to that might be a Content Marketing (CM) strategy, to which the next set of questions might clarify related micro goals: “Which types of content will best help me build awareness of my business and its offerings? Which will best help me nurture and grow relationships with these new people? And which will help transition those who are ready into the sales process?”

In other words, once you clarify your meta goal’s question, the answer is a strategy. That strategy then narrows the field of questions for your micro goals, which then makes you much more focused by the time you’re deciding on tactics.

Tactics are where you execute.

It’s not enough to know that your strategy is going to be content marketing. You have to know how to do CM in a way that actually leads to the fulfillment of the meta goal.

What This Looks Like in Practice

Answering the 3 Content Marketing (CM) micro goal questions above might look something like:

  • Create social media quotepics using Canva and circulate them in rotation using Buffer
  • Write blog articles and create an ebook related to each one that adds people to my email list, then create an email automation sequence that helps new subscribers get to know me and shares my expertise with them over time using ConvertKit
  • Invite newsletter subscribers to attend a webinar that ends in a sales invitation

Can you see how much more actionable that is than “content marketing?”

We need to go from strategy to tactics to get anything done, and particularly to get it done effectively such that meta goals are ultimately achieved through the achievement of our micro goals. But we can’t start with the micro level, with the tactics.

If you start with questions about what actions you’ll take and what tools you’ll use, you’ll be lost in an endless sea of possibilities. Instead of starting by asking targeted questions, you’ll be asking questions more like: “Should I be doing webinars?”

You ask that because you’ve been hearing a lot about people getting good results with webinars. And strategic decisions that start with tactical questions always lead to chasing other people’s results. The real question in that scenario is always the same, “What will work?”

That’s a terrible question.

Never start your strategic planning with a question about what will work. That’s a tactical question that needs to come after there is first a focusing strategy. Otherwise you’ll be not just chasing your own tail indefinitely, but also chasing his tail, and her tail, and their tails, and tails yet to even be invented.

In Summary

Let me end with a word about self-acceptance….

If you see yourself in the pattern I’m describing, don’t criticize yourself for that. It’s natural that you would be focused on tactics and execution tools when so much of the business conversation online is about exactly that. Everyone wants to know what webinar software to use, which online scheduler, which CRM. My most successful blog articles are around topics like those. And I love business tools myself. I enjoy them like I enjoyed board games as a child.

Yet at the same time, I hope I’m safe in saying that I have much more value to offer once the conversation moves away from mere tools and tactics. And ultimately that’s where the conversation does in fact need to move.

Otherwise everyone just stays in this micro-business rat race, forever plagued by self-doubt, a fear of having missed the boat, been too late to the party, not doing the right things at the right time. The only thing you’re missing is the peace of mind you could be experiencing and the natural joy that is available to you in running your business in a way that puts strategy first and lets tools and tactics serve that.

In the fourth and final article in this series, I’ll be sharing with you how you use available data to be able to tell when your tactical actions have you on track toward achieving your strategic goals, or when an adjustment is needed. I hope to see you there, and please feel welcome to comment below or share this post.