Tactics Are Not Strategy

As I get more comfortable in my second stint as a marketing/communications entrepreneur I am realising that some people still don’t get it, and I gave them nine years to learn!

“I ran an advertisement and it didn’t work,” or “I used to print that and nobody wanted it,” are two common statements. While I smack my head, it is their head I should be smacking.

To me, it is fairly simple. Tactics are not strategy. That is, an advertisement – even a campaign of advertisements – is not a strategy, it is a tactic or a series of tactics. The blame does not rest with the advertisement placement, graphic designer, or advertisement media. It is often the complete lack of a strategy. The tactics just get the blame because the strategy didn’t exist or was poor.

Strategy in marketing/communications looks first at research, an analysis of the past, current and future, and the development of strategy. I often see “strategy” as a title and a list of tactics under this section – wrong!

Strategy is the big picture (0.5-10 years), or if you are dealing with me on some projects, the future picture (20-30 years out.) I’ll have your head confused on the latter.

Strategy is defined. It is focused. It’s measurable in real things (those are not “likes” however “likes” will get you there.)

So, when you are wondering why an advertisement, post, sign (my favourite) or media release didn’t work, please stop blaming those items.

A failure to plan, is a plan to failure. Focus on strategy and the tactics will come.