In this episode of Actionable Marketing In Minutes we talk about tactical thinking and some common pitfalls you can avoid.

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When it comes to marketing, oftentimes, the terms strategic thinking and tactical – or operational – thinking are used interchangeably. Even though the two share certain characteristics, they are completely different actions.

Let me explain.

* Strategic thinking is more like the roadmap (or concept); whereas, tactical thinking is more the tool you plan to use to get the job done.

* If you are not receiving optimal success with your strategy, it’s much more difficult to reverse course. On the other hand, if you’re not experiencing the success you’d hoped for because of the methods you’re using to achieve your goals (aka the tactics), it’s much easier to make course adjustments.

* Your strategy is the central organizing statement. Tactics are the day-to-day actions.

In other words, strategy is both the means and the ends. Tactics are the means only.


You might notice many good marketers consider the philosophies of Sun Tzu. One very appropriate quote for today’s topic is: “Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” And, know this. He’s not talking about your competitor’s defeat.

I thought I’d mention Tzu because he, very succinctly, wrapped up everything I am sharing today in one very simple sentence.

Since strategy is how we plan for battle and tactics is how we execute the strategy, both are vital to our success. But, to simply employ tactics without the strategy is as good as throwing pasta at the wall to see what sticks. That’s a potential for a huge waste of resources.

Traditionally, good marketers have followed a methodical process that always starts with research. This includes research on the market, the target market, competitors and so much more. Then we make plans to go after our share of that market. We carefully formulate clear, strategic objectives to reach our goals. Only when that is crystal clear, do we develop the tactics and tools that, when employed, will work to achieve our goals.


Strategy and tactics are both essential to achieving your goals and realizing your marketing success. They work hand-in-hand. You need a plan and that plan must be worked. Otherwise you could end up with big plans and poor execution or you could end up with chaos.

Utilizing tactical thinking only is kind of like running in quicksand. You’re really exerting yourself, but you’re getting nowhere fast.

To utilize both strategic and tactical thinking effectively, constantly monitor your plan, ensuring that all tactics line up with the strategy and all strategies utilize specific tactics to achieve the set strategic goals.

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Join us for an upcoming episode as we discuss why accurate directories are so important.