Strategy & Tactics: The Difference and How to Prioritize

December 2, 2020
Strategy & Tactics: The Difference and How to Prioritize
The difference between strategy and tactics is substantial, so comprehending their exact meaning is a crucial business component. When their contrast is wholly understood along with the methods to utilize and execute both fully, businesses can fuel forward a solid plan for success.

If you are involved in the inner workings of a business, whether you own it or not, you've probably spent a good deal of your time on strategy and tactics. These terms are standard in business, but many people, from business owners to marketing teams, have trouble differentiating between them.

Defining Strategy and Tactics

There are critical distinctions between strategy and tactics that require comprehension before implementing either. Here is a fantastic way to look at it; Your strategy is the destination, and your tactics are the specific actions you'll take along the way that will get you there.

We could compare strategy and tactics all day, but it's important to note that they are never in conflict. They work together like old teammates, and it's impossible to put one into action without considering the other.

When it comes to categorizing the steps you'll want to take for your business under the broad methods of strategy and tactics; it may help to refer to the following:


Your strategy should define your goals, preferably long term, and how you currently plan to achieve them (this can change a little, as businesses are always evolving, and that's okay). A well-thought-out strategy will forge out the path you need to effectively achieve your company's mission, whatever it may be.


Your tactics are a bit more flexible and are likely to change more than your strategy. Tactics pertain to short-term goals and the specific plans and resources you'll apply toward your strategy. You'll likely be unable to support your strategy without defining your tactics.

The Strategy and Tactics Relationship

When you decide on a goal for your company or organization and take the time to plan and invest in the resources you'll need to achieve that goal; you've created a strategy. A great approach requires the ability to develop a specific purpose while keeping focused on your final vision.

A strategy is not about overnight success but instead achieving that success in the long-term. Strategies work to build strength within your business structure, and tactics play a huge part in executing that strength.

Illustrating the Distinction

Examples can be helpful when discussing the understanding and methods of employing strategy and tactics.

Strategies, Research, and Planning

Because a strategy is long-term, it is set apart from short-term tactics. If your digital marketing plan is to amp up your social media performance, then your tactics could be choosing the best channel to connect with your audience and what message you'd like to get across.

As you have probably gathered, it is much easier to reevaluate your tactics than it is to course-correct your strategy. Since tactics heavily influence the success of your strategy, feel free to adjust them as needed.

Creating Alignment

If your strategy and tactics exist on different pages, things will not work out as you'd planned. If you're building your business as a copywriter within a specific niche, picking up a large project or practice outside of that niche may skew your goals and take up your precious time.

Remember, you can have more than one business strategy at one time, depending on your business's nature. Just be sure that the long-term goal is fully supported by the short-term, and you'll keep yourself on track.

Hiccups Will Happen

There is not a process on the planet that exists in perfection. Even with relentless ambition and massive aspirations, resources run out, and paths have to reroute.

Don't let drawbacks keep you from your goals. Keep priorities straight, consistently measure your success, and focus on the big picture.

Putting Your Plan into Action

You won't see much progress within your strategy if you haven't outlined your plan and set objectives for yourself and your team. To make your system as effective as possible and develop a robust framework based on establishing the tactics best for your company to progress, you've got to prioritize the details.

Be Specific

Is your long-term goal excruciatingly specific? Does it identify any foreseen issues or opportunities? It would be best to have the answers to both of these questions before mapping out your strategy.

Make it Measurable

You don't have to measure all goals on paper (or digitally), but when it comes to business, you'll need to. Make sure that your strategy can be measured both quantitatively and qualitatively.

Understand the necessary technological statistics you'll need to ensure that your business is thriving, from basic accounting to your social media marketing campaign's effectiveness.

Improve Current Performance

Ask yourself if your tactics will help you develop the information you need to improve your business's current performance. Use them to better understand your business than you ever have before by employing them and restructuring them when they aren't as successful as you'd like.

Relevancy and Time Frame

You've likely got a time frame in mind when it comes to accomplishing your strategy or long-term goals. Whatever that time frame may be, make sure that the tactics you implement will help you gather the information that will enlighten you to market trends and your business's success at different times. Keep your strategy relevant to current problems your business may face.

For example, if you want to increase your yearly revenue by 50%, you'll want to consider tactics that drive traffic to your website. Since you can monitor your website statistics and conversion rates, you can see the changes needed to boost traffic and, in return, sales.

Stay on Your Path

By clearly communicating your strategy to your team and yourself, you're taking the critical steps needed to establish clear and attainable goals. Measure your progress as you go, and never hesitate to redirect.

You will face plenty of unforeseen situations, but with the right strategy and flexible tactics, you'll be able to respond appropriately. Stick to your roadmap, and you'll get where you need to go.

Acknowledgement: Sources are provided for informational and reference purposes only. DeWitt has no vendor affiliations, offers no products, and has no conflicts of interest.
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