Business & Marketing: Strategic VS Tactical Thinking


Do You Have A Business Marketing Strategy?

Chess Game
Chess, the ultimate game of strategy

Heck, I know you want to answer yes, but do you really? If you’re like 99% of businesses out there, then you don’t – especially in Zimbabwean business.  The consequence is that you’re tactical in your approach to business. That means you’re episodic, random and uncoordinated about the way and the sequence of your marketing activities.

In fact, when I talk strategy to most entrepreneurs one thing is abundantly clear –

They don’t know the difference between strategy and tactics

Do you? Here’s why this is SUPER vital if you’re interested in more than just survival.

There’s really no such thing as effective marketing strategy until you understand the difference between these two. And once you do, you can systematically rise to the top of your industry. Past those with more experience, bigger budgets and even better products. You can see things, understand things and execute in a way that almost no one else can.

Let me show you how…

Firstly, there’s a lot to say about strategy and tactics in business – much more than I can say in this one article. For now, I’ll focus on the massive importance of understanding the difference between them and the power of thinking strategically.

  • Strategy is your overall perspective and plan. It guides all your decisions. Think of it as the framework that contains and informs your daily actionable goals and tasks.
  • Tactics are the specific actions you’ll take to accomplish your overall plan (strategy). An advert in the Financial Gazette newspaper is a tactic. So is the action of setting up a website, publishing a classified advert, setting up a sales presentation/meeting, hiring a sales person, sending Dipleague an email etc.

Make sense? How about an example.

In Zimbabwe because of the unpredictability of political, economic and market factors most entrepreneurs became completely tactical in their mindset. The question on the street was not

“What and how should I invest to assure myself of the highest and longest lasting business advantage and benefits?”

It was “what can I do right now to make money quick?”.

The result was that a lot of people became ‘get rich quick’ experts (Cash Barons). They did whatever was working in the moment with no long-term perspective or attachment to anything.

When fuel was working, they sold fuel, then they sold cars, then they sold money, then real estate, then they went into procurement and so on. Neither one was building on the other. There was no strategy, just tactic after tactic. In those days, it wasn’t uncommon to find someone running 3 or 4 completely unrelated businesses AT the SAME TIME.

And when things finally stabilized with the legalization of the officializing of the USD, most of them lost everything. Imagine, after having made $200 000.00 or more, these tactical entrepreneurs still had

  • No recognizable or respected brands
  • No real strategic assets
  • No sustainable, high leverage relationships
  • No long-term strategically chosen competencies
  • no uncommon market intelligence
  • no intellectual property

…all they had was money. And as I’ve said before, it takes a lot more than money to succeed in business long-term. Overnight, they went broke, in debt. They went from

from Hero, to Zero.

Most didn’t even use their money to acquire new business skills, and today they cannot even get a job. They had invested and spent as though things would never change. (Most Zimbabwean are still working this way)

It’s really sad, but it’s a good example of what happens when you think tactically without having a guiding strategy.

Fortunately, failure is never final and some, having learned the lesson some are now starting to think smarter. These are some of the people I help everyday to set up new businesses or rethink their strategies.

So what about you? How can you start thinking more strategically in your business?

Well lets say you’re about to meet a prospect. Someone who is interested in buying from you, but hasn’t yet. Most entrepreneurs simply  go into the meeting thinking about the money they want and what they have to sell to get it. That’s tactical thinking again. But not you.

You’re thinking more strategically. Having read this post, you’re taking a step back to ask “How does this meeting fit into and impact my overall business strategy?”

As you ask that question, It becomes clear to you that you want more than just Mr Prospects money.

  • You also want him to refer his friends and associates to you
  • You also want him to consider you the top expert in your field, thereby building your market credibility and brand power.
  • You want him spread the word of mouth on your business?
  • You want him to sign a 12 month contract vs just a once off payment?
  • You want to gain his full and complete trust – until he considers you more than just a ‘sales person’ but an advisor?
  • You want him to give you deeper insight on what makes people like him decide on who to buy from
  • And so on

Now because you’ve thought through all these strategic objectives, you will have a completely different meeting than Mr Tactical will. You promise different things, talk about different things, you’re not all about the money, you’re more interested in your prospect and his perspective on things etc

Can you imagine the difference between these two approaches for just 10 such meetings? Which business do you think is growing faster, making more, positioned better and more on track for great success? The tactician’s or the strategist’s?

Get this in your head – You need more than money to succeed in Business.

Believing that money is everything is why so many broke people never start their dream business. It’s also why so many promising entrepreneurs don’t amount to much.

I’ve personally even had situations where I’ve failed to get the initial sale. Walked away without the contract. Maybe I was too expensive, or they needed a simpler solution or it turned out my products didn’t match the problem Mr prospect was trying to solve. Yet, because I had clear strategic objectives for the meeting, I’ve walked away with one or more referrals that lead to future business, a new marketing idea, I’d gained new market insight, made a new long-term friend that later became a client etc.

So again, do you have a strategy for your business? For your market? For your product development?

Listen Bob, I’m NOT bashing tactics. You absolutely need BOTH.

I’m just saying that tactics are only today’s success, not tomorrows. Tactics alone may put food on the table but they won’t make you an industry leader, build you an empire or even maximize your talents and opportunities.

I’m also saying that the fact that few entrepreneurs think strategically is a big opportunity for you to stand out and take the lead.

Sun Tzu, Military Strategist, autor of Art of War
Sun Tzu: Accomplished General

Here’s what Sun Tzu, an accomplished military strategist and author of the ‘The Art of War’ (read it) had to say;

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”

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5 thoughts on “Business & Marketing: Strategic VS Tactical Thinking

  1. Great post, I conceive people should acquire a lot from this web site its rattling user friendly . “A happy childhood has spoiled many a promising life.” by Robertson Davies.

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