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Strategy vs. Tactics: What’s the Difference and Why Does it Matter?

By November 25, 2018 February 12th, 2019 No Comments

Man playing chess with all his pieces in tact

“In order to do anything meaningful, you have to know where you are going.”

Wanting to start a new business but just don’t know where to begin? Looking to rebrand and grow your market? Whether it’s a new website, driving SEO, or email marketing, here at Zephyr Digital Design we believe there can be no tactics until we understand the objectives. It’s not Ready, Fire, Aim – It’s Ready, Aim, Fire. An article by Farnam Street talks about the difference between strategy and tactics, two terms that can often get confused.

The Relationship Between Strategy and Tactics

Strategy is an overarching plan or a set of goals. Changing strategies is like trying to turn around an aircraft carrier—it can be done but not quickly. Tactics are the specific actions you undertake to accomplish your strategy.

We run the risk of ambling through life, uncertain and confused about if we are making progress towards what we want without a strategy! Without tactics, we are destined for a lifetime of wishful thinking or chronic dissatisfaction.

“Grand strategy is the art of looking beyond the present battle and calculating ahead. Focus on your ultimate goal and plot to reach it.” ― Robert Greene, The 33 Strategies of War

The Components of Strategy

Author and Professor Geoffrey P. Chamberlain, identifies seven components of strategy:

  1. A strategy is used within a particular domain.
  2. A strategy has a single, well defined focus.
  3. A strategy lays out a path to be followed.
  4. A strategy is made up of parts (tactics).
  5. Each of a strategy’s parts pushes towards the defined focus.
  6. A strategy recognizes its sphere of influence.

A Few Words on Tactics

Even the most elegant, well-planned strategy is useless if we do not take thoughtful steps to achieve it. While the overall goal remains stable, the steps we take to achieve it must be flexible enough to adjust to the short-term realities of our situation.

Tactics often center around the efficient use of available resources, whether money, people, time, ammunition, or materials. Tactics also tend to be shorter-term and more specific than strategies.

The short-term nature and flexibility of tactics allow us to pivot as needed, choosing the right ones for the situation, to achieve our larger, strategic goals.

“If you don’t have a strategy, you are part of someone else’s strategy.” — Alvin Toffler

At Zephyr Digital Design, we use an objective-oriented approach to set targets, plan digital strategies and then choose the right tactical tool to achieve the goal. Contact Us and we will develop the best strategy for your brand.