Why you should always put strategy before tactics

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Q&A feature for Insider South West, May 2019


What is the difference between strategy and tactics?

These two terms are misused and confused in many different ways. Strategy is the top-level decision-making and planning that will ensure all day-to-day activities contribute to business goals. Tactics are the practical things you do each day to implement the strategy. It’s the difference between asking ‘where do we want to go’ and ‘how will we get there’. The strategy defines direction, tactics don’t. If you dive straight into tactics you will find it difficult to measure whether you are on the right track to achieve success.

What questions do I need to ask when developing a marketing strategy?

The five ‘W’s and one ‘H’ provide a well-established formula for information- gathering – namely, what, where, when, who, why, how. In marketing, we need to plan for what we want to happen, who we want to reach, where we will find our customers and when we need to be there. Before we plan, we need to know why. Until we know the ‘why’, we cannot determine ‘how’ we will market the product or service. Are you able to articulate what your product or service is, and why it matters that it exists? Once you find your ‘why?’ it will help you understand the ‘who’ – who it might matter to – your potential customers.


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