Strategy. Game plan with measurable objective[s].
Tactic. Method or partial method of reaching the objective.
Marketing Strategy: Use a free product to attract users who will pay for extras.
Marketing Tactics: Publish press releases, advertise, build web site.
Positioning Strategy: Position between Rolex and Timex.
Positioning Tactics: Photography and copywriting.
How many companies use the above marketing strategy? A lot. How many succeed? Not many. Using the same strategy and tactics as the competition does not lead to sustainable competitive advantage or differentiation. It leads to the sea of similars.
Recently there was a discussion about open source. One participant in the discussion said that "open source gives me a competitive advantage"... so if the competition has access to the same product for free how is any competitive advantage obtained from using an open source product? This sort of statement is really a dangerous misconception because people will read it and assume it`s true. Then someone will try and build a business.
Basically, there are a lot of small businesses that operate as a "bag of tactics" without any thought to strategy. People come to SUN and ask a lot of tactical questions but rarely do I see any strategic planning or evidence thereof. Tactics are great but they don`t lead anywhere and tactics don`t specify measurable objectives. Few days ago there was someone asking about marketing ... as if marketing is just a series of actions to carried out for five minutes each day ... without any real regard to strategy. Sure print business cards, advertise, just like the competition. Why not just call marketing "how to get nowhere fast" because that`s what it amounts to for most people if it`s purely a tactical game. Corporate strategy - same thing. See a business like Geek Squad? Hey try and emulate it ... but do it without any brand equity or name recognition or television adverts. When that fails, come looking here at SUN for more tactics. More advertising, more free promotion techniques. Why not start a blog because surely that will help!
But the core strategy - build a business by copying geek squad and undercutting them - is basically bad, so the endless stream of tactics really won`t work. I sat in a coffee shop the other day and listened to a "geek squad" business owner talk to a marketing consultant and how fliers failed, promotions failed, etc. Well... that`s what happens when it`s all about tactics.
I think a strategy forum would be a fantastic way to educate people about strategy and why it`s important. It would just save so much time and wasted energy if entrepreneurs could pay a little attention to strategy. In fact, now that I think about it, I am rather startled that there isn`t a Strategy forum herein.