I used to have to cover this in a course I gave for salespeople. I am not a believer in trying to dress concepts up with loads of flannel when they need to be understood first. There is room for detail when you get into it but the simple concept should be that. Simple.
Simply put; It’s a bit like going to a film. The strategy is the overall aim to go and see a film. The tactics are the step by step actions to achieve that. They can be broken down into granular detail if needs be. It could be as simple as choose a film, get in the car and go to cinema, watch film. On the other hand it could be broken down into turn PC on, use Google to search for films, read reviews, pick film that suits your free time & tastes, buy tickets, collect keys, check there is enough petrol in the car etc etc etc…
This isn’t just a pure sales plan tool but a great thing to hold in your head when planning a campaign for a variety of things. The strategy is without doubt the hardest thing to agree on. If it’s about a business relationship then you need to be in alignment and agreement with your customer first. A strategy isn’t something you can just “do” to the other party. Once they trust that you understand their business and their strategy then it’s much easier to earn credibility by showing how your strategy with them helps them achieve their strategy. After that the tactics will come easily. Some will be be joint and some will be owned by either party. Simple, isn’t it?
I fundamentally disagree with the remark in an article I read that says the following; “Strategy is the practice of figuring out the best way to get from here to there.” Noooooo, strategy is the decision that you want to be “there” and not “here”. Tactics are the things you need to do to get from “here” to “there”, achieving your strategic aim.
Sounds simpler by the second? So, it’s OK to get all Sun Tzu about it the whole thing, but ensure that you grasp the basic distinctions first.
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