Why Tactics Matter to Marketers

Everyone is in love with talking about strategy. Strategic this and strategic that. It is becoming a mind numbing topic in the blogosphere and corporate conference rooms around the globe. Of course strategy matters but what about the lonely tactics?

Tactics are the art and science of disposing and maneuvering forces. Tactics demonstrate how a strategy comes to life. The word for tactics has its origin in combat but we use it in business all the time. Tactics are the representation of how you execute your strategy and in classical thinking come after the strategy is developed. But can tactics trump strategy? Is it counter intuitive to think that you could focus on the effective means of deploying resources first, and then see how it fits with strategic options?

I do believe strategy has to come first. But I like to link strategy quickly to examples of tactics that illustrate how a strategy comes to life. A clearly illustrated tactic serves as a guidepost for all to get what you mean by your strategic intent.When strategy is developed in isolation of the tactics, the disconnection occurs when ideas aren't translated into actions.

When your strategy is agreed on by the owners or managers of small to mid-sized business, how do you communicate your focus internally and externally? Words alone can be inadequate. I prefer to quickly find  one great tactic to demonstrate strategic meaning. 

A simple example:
Typical boring lunch from a
typical boring caterer
My daughter has started a Wilmington, North Carolina based catering business called FANFARECatering. (Her name is Fanny).  As part of her service offering, she wanted to deliver homemade sandwiches to corporate offices. 

Her strategy was that she wanted to be seen as the opposite of Subway,and other local sandwich shops. She wanted Fanfare Catering to be able to charge commensurate with the quality of her hand-crafted meals. We talked about a simple idea that was very tactical but helped her connect the strategy and its execution. Once I described it to her, the strategy clicked into place. She has never run a business before but she instantly understood how her strategy can come to life. 

Her strategy was to bring homemade quality lunches to the workplace. She determined that she would sell picnic-lunch style sandwiches. Her meals would be delivered not wrapped in aluminum foil but in wonderful picnic baskets with napkins that position the food as homemade.  By linking the strategy and a single important tactic early in the process, she was able to quickly communicate her light, local and healthy theme to her customers.

The picnic lunch theme helps her understand a filter by which decisions are made about her product offering. They have to look and feel like they come out of a homemade picnic basket not a brown paper bag. 

How are you linking your key strategies to a clearly understandable tactic? If you aren’t doing this, your team may feel like a basket case. 

Notes: When I am not munching on a homemade chicken salad sandwich (with craisins, tarragon-flavored mayo sandwich, arrugala and heirloom tomato made by Fanny), I am trying to unravel the mysteries of marketing. Won't you share my posts with a friend? 

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