What’s the Hang-up? Strategical or Tactical?
A lot of times we meet with companies that have one or marketing projects that are stalled. Or to use the more corporate pc lingo, “in development.” While there may be some truth to this, “in development” to me means “not finished.”
Why do these projects – the corporate brochure, web site, company newsletter, or sales presentation package – get stalled in the first place? And, in other cases, why do seemingly well-executed projects or campaigns fail to deliver?
From our experience, it’s often a case of a tangle-up between strategies and tactics. Many businesses use these terms interchangeably – this is a mistake. Though they are interdependent for achieving brand leadership, they are mutually exclusive, and understanding the difference between the two will make or break your branding effort.
Strategy vs. Tactics
The MS Encarta Dictionary defines “strategy” and “tactics” as:
Strategy: planning in any field; a carefully devised plan of action to achieve a goal or the art of developing or carrying out such a plan
Tactics: means to an end; finding and implementing means to achieve particular, immediate or short term aims
Put simply, “strategy” deals with planning and “tactics” deal with actions. When you develop a brand strategy, you focus on the “big picture,” your business goals, the targeted recipients of your message, and anticipated results. Tactics are the actions contained within that plan, each with specific, measurable objectives, that you will undertake to reach your defined goals.
I like to think of strategies and tactics in terms of football. The strategy is the game plan, the proverbial Xs and Os crisscrossed over a chalkboard, the plays taped to the quarterback’s wrist band. The tactics include a perfectly executed pass that lands right between the numbers of a receiver in the center of the end zone. Without a solid game-day strategy, without countless hours spent by the coach and players analyzing the competitor’s strengths and weaknesses along with their own, a team could still lose the game because of one incomplete pass after another.
Without a plan, even the best efforts fall flat. So, if it feels like your best efforts are never good enough, it’s your strategy, not your tactics, that need to change.
To achieve brand leadership, you must become a strategist. Shooting from the hip with randomly sent postcards or press releases will never make a lasting impression.
When you create a plan, you are devising brand strategies to meet key business goals. Only then can you realistically assess the pros and cons of each tactic.
Creating a Strategy for Brand Leadership
The reason that some of your tactics fail, even if others you know have successfully used similar tactics, is because your chosen tactics are not part of a comprehensive brand strategy. Creating the road map to brand leadership involves five key steps:
- Discovering – your company, your customers and the unique bridge that connects you with them.
- Expressing – your brand with a message and image unlike any other in your industry or marketplace.
- Planning – the appropriate strategies, tactics and metrics to ensure effective delivery of your brand to align with sales, and meet business goals.
- Delivering – consistent communication of your brand to the marketplace, at all relevant touch points, both internal and external.
- Evaluating – quarterly monitoring of the results of your brand strategy to continuously adjust and increase penetration, effectiveness and results.
Keep it simple
Think about a strategy in terms of consulting a road map on a long journey. You may hit a few pot holes and some unpredictable congestion along the way. But you still know exactly where you are headed, and how you’ll get there. Now, consider the same trip without a map or directions of any kind. You’d be blindly following signs, taking a series of dead ends, wasting a lot of time to stop and get your bearings, and feeling like you’re not getting anywhere. When you have a map, all of the tactical moves – taking a right or a left, traveling on the highway or back roads – are a no-brainer. Without a map, it’s a stressful and impossible endeavor.
Aspects of brand strategy can seem overwhelming at first glance. But the more you work on strategies, the easier the tactical branding initiatives become. A strategy based on brand leadership makes you a winner in business. Tactics determine how big the win is.