Tactics vs. Strategy

Chess and PeopleI recently finished my last year of the American Bankers Association’s School of Bank Marketing and Management and had the honor of graduating with a great group of bankers from all walks of life.  There are several topics and schools of thought that are still running through my mind, but one concept has been lingering in the forefront: Tactics vs. Strategy.

When I talk about marketing with someone, usually tactics often get confused for strategy.  The biggest example I hear is:

What email strategies are you using?

Using email to get your message out and sell a certain product or services is a great tool, but it should not be considered a strategy.

Two other tactics that often get confused with strategy are social media and online advertising.  These three tactics are the latest communication tools business are using to market their companies to existing customers and prospects, but it is a shame that they are being confused with strategy.

Tactics Before Strategy

Years ago, I worked with someone who believed our bank needed to be on Facebook.  I didn’t fully disagree with him, but when I asked him why, his answer was,

Everyone is on it.

Now I don’t know what kind of childhood you had, but when I heard this, I wanted to answer with what my mother use to say:

If everyone decided to jump off a bridge, would you?

But instead of being snarky, I started a conversation with him by asking, what would we post on Facebook.  After the conversation, he realized our bank wasn’t positioned to be on Facebook and he never asked the question again.  Don’t get me wrong, his heart was in the right place, but he wanted to start a tactic without even thinking about an objective or strategy.

What is Strategy?

In its simplest form, a strategy is a plan to bring about a result.  For example, if your bank needs to raise deposits and decides the best way to do this is by increasing the number of checking accounts, you create a strategy to bring in more checking account customers.  That is the beginning level of the strategy.  You then start breaking down the steps of the strategy

  • Dollar Amount Goal
  • What type of Checking Accounts
  • Target Market
  • Budget
  • Tactics to Attract Target Market

The list can go on and on, but eventually leads to what type of tactics you will use to obtain your goal.

What’s More Important: Strategy or Tactic?

Tactics need strategy and strategy needs tactics.  Tactics are the actions you take to put your strategy to life and reach your goal.

Ever work with someone who says they are an “ideas man”?  Drives me crazy when I hear that.  Ideas are great, but without action, they’re nothing.  Sun Tzu put it best when he said:

Sun QuoteThink of it this way, as much effort that you put in thinking out your strategy, you need to put that much effort into your tactics.  Phoning in a tactic will not produce the same results in the amount of time as a fully thought out tactic.

Have you ever had to explain the difference between strategy and tactics to someone?  What examples did you use when communicating the differences?

 

 

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About Jeremy M. Price
For twelve years, I had the pleasure of working in community banking. Starting in customer service, I worked my way up to a senior level marketing and human resources director. It was great leading teams that improved strategic initiatives including, but not limited to brand awareness, digital communication, employee development and product development. This experience has now led to an exciting role with CRS Data. As the Product Marketing Analyst, I am currently reviewing the company's banker suite product. This product is able to help community banks reach their fullest potential in real estate lending. I am extremely fortunate to share time with my son while enjoying life in East Tennessee. The two of us enjoy the views of the Smokey Mountains, eating good food and having fun. During my free time, I enjoy running races, traveling and listening to great live music.

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