Is That Your Strategy?...Or Your Tactics?

I always find it interesting the number of so-called marketing ‘experts’ who don’t know the difference between a ‘strategy’ and a ‘tactic’.

These words get thrown around daily by folks who have read about them somewhere; or they've heard other self-proclaimed marketing ‘gurus’ use them, so they mimic those lockstep, without questioning; and feel they’re using the ‘correct’ business buzz words.

A lot of buzz, and buzzing around...means nothing, without a flight plan.

In reality, a strategy is a plan of action designed to reach a defined goal. It is the act of determining exactly where you are and what kind of arena you are competing in, for what prize; then setting realistic and attainable goals suitable for that context.

A tactic, on the other hand, is a way to reach that goal. It is a specific action-step, technique, or method whereby you can reach the goals laid out in the overall strategy.

In military terms, you might say that if "pushing the enemy back beyond the village of XYZ so their supply lines are permanently cut off" is one specific strategy in the war, then just how you will do that (push the enemy back), are the tactics to be employed. There may be many different strategies; but they will each be part of the overall strategy: winning the war.

A tactic is not chiseled in stone; but a temporary ‘guesstimate’ of what to do. Many tactics don’t work at first. But if you adjust them enough, like a series of experiments, you can eventually get the right tactics for use at the right time in the right context or arena. Sometimes it’s all about being in the right time at the right place...about timing.

If your strategy is sound, it will withstand the test of time in any marketplace.

Google was around and an excellent search engine, two years before you even knew about it. Thomas Edison “knew” he could come up with the illuminated light, but he had to go through more than 400 different experiments to get there.

Alexander Graham Bell, working in a small lab in Brantford, Ontario, toiled for months and months with the transmission of sound...eventually inventing and perfecting the telephone.

You would think those many failed experiments were the hard part. Wrong. The tactics – most of which fail at first – are the easy part.

The right strategy – and coming up with it – is the most difficult part.

It is the part that really takes some clear headed thinking, some research and question-asking; lots of diligence and “stick-to-it-iveness” other words: patience.

As Seth Godin said in his blog recently, “...the irony of the web is that the tactics work really quickly. But the strategy still takes forever. The strategy is the hard part, not the tactics. The frustrating part is that you see your tactics fail right away. The good news is that over time, you get the satisfaction of watching those tactics succeed right away...”

Now think about this: I can offer you dozens and dozens of ways to market your restaurant. So can others. That is not where the secret lies. Sure it never hurts to have dozens of unique ways to market your restaurant that the big boys won’t or can’t use. Or your smaller competitors don’t even know about. But where the rubber hits the road is with your STRATEGY.

This is where the magic begins. Those with the best strategy win. Those who then intelligently and effectively implement that unique selling proposition-driven strategy best...will be the all time penultimate winners.

Go back. Read that last sentence just one more time. I said the “unique selling proposition-driven strategy” right?

Those of you who follow my FohBoh posts already know what the U.S.P. (the unique selling proposition) concept of strategy formulation is. Check out my previous FohBoh posts (or my blog) dealing exclusively with this important marketing foundation.

Keep in mind, therefore, whenever you see a potential “tactic” or technique here...and elsewhere...view it in perspective, vis-à-vis the strategy you have adopted for your own business or restaurant, using the U.S.P.

And be patient. Tactics come and go; but solid marketing strategies are as good and long-lasting as gold.

What do you think? Why not give me your two cents’ worth? I’d love to see your comments below...

Views: 1

Tags: Edison, Godin, Google, Seth, Thomas, USP, attainable, buzz, context, flight, More…forever, goals, gurus, long-term, patient, plan, realistic, restaurant, satisfaction, secret, strategy, tactics


You need to be a member of FohBoh to add comments!

Join FohBoh

Comment by Roy MacNaughton on August 16, 2008 at 11:51am
Hey Paul!

Thanks so much for that perfect restaurant industry analogy!

'Shoulda thought of that one myself. This is an excellent way to separate the concept of
the overall strategy a restaurant might set for itself...compared to the resultant series of "table-side" tactics that the same restaurant ownership might employ to reach those strategic goals.

Thanks, I needed that....

Comment by Paul Paz on August 16, 2008 at 11:29am
Great post, Roy.
I have often used "battlefiel mentality" to coach service-sales strategies and tableside-tactics!




Social Wine Club for Craft Wineries


Restaurants may feel the pinch of pricier coffee later this year

Prices for arabica coffee futures hit a 26-month high amid a drought in Brazil, which produces a third of the world's coffee  -More

McDonald's rules out all-day breakfast in push to simplify

McDonald's breakfast menu accounts for 25% of the chain's U.S.  -More

Easy ways to use 5 uncommon spring greens

As light, crisp greens arrive at farmers markets and grocery stores, chefs are finding creative ways to add them to spring me -More


Posting a job or finding a job starts here at FohBoh. Call us about special $25 posting packages to syndicate across all major jobs boards.

National News

National Restaurant Association Offers Training DVDs on Harassment Prevention, Social Media Use, and Customer Service

The National Restaurant Association has released three new DVDs that offer best practices in dealing with harassment and discrimination, customer service training, and the first of its kind video guide on the use of social media.

Yum! Brands Reports First-Quarter EPS Growth of 24% Excluding Special Items

China Division System Sales Increased 17% with Operating Profit Growth of 80%; Yum! Reaffirms Full-Year Guidance of at Lea

Souplantation & Sweet Tomatoes Certified As Nation's Largest 'Green' Restaurant Chain

National Group Salutes Country's Only Large Restaurant Group to be 'Certified Green Restaurants®'

National Restaurant Association and EatStreet Release Online Ordering Guide

The National Restaurant Association and EatStreet have released a free educational guide focusing on online ordering and emerging restaurant technology trends.

Boyd's Coffee Launches Single-Cup Coffees For Retail And Foodservice

The coffees come in a variety of roast levels and include organic and Rainforest Alliance Certified™ options: French No. 6®, Red Wagon® Organic Coffee, Good Morning™, Hi-Rev® (delivers more caffeine), and Lost Lake™ Decaf Organic Coffee.


If you are looking for capital to start or grow your restaurant, create the next 501c3, develop and launch the next app for the restaurant industry,or want to help your peers in some meaningful way, we want to know about it.


TED: Hamish Jolly: A shark-deterrent wetsuit (and it's not what you think) - Hamish Jolly (2013)

Hamish Jolly, an ocean swimmer in Australia, wanted a wetsuit that would deter a curious shark from mistaking him for a potential source of nourishment. (Which, statistically, is rare, but certainly a fate worth avoiding.) Working with a team of scientists, he and his friends came up with a fresh approach — not a shark cage, not a suit of chain-mail, but a sleek suit that taps our growing understanding of shark vision.

TED: Michel Laberge: How synchronized hammer strikes could generate nuclear fusion - Michel Laberge (2014)

Our energy future depends on nuclear fusion, says Michel Laberge. The plasma physicist runs a small company with a big idea for a new type of nuclear reactor that could produce clean, cheap energy. His secret recipe? High speeds, scorching temperatures and crushing pressure. In this hopeful talk, he explains how nuclear fusion might be just around the corner.

TED: Sarah Lewis: Embrace the near win - Sarah Lewis (2014)

At her first museum job, art historian Sarah Lewis noticed something important about an artist she was studying: Not every artwork was a total masterpiece. She asks us to consider the role of the almost-failure, the near win, in our own lives. In our pursuit of success and mastery, is it actually our near wins that push us forward?

TED: Matthew Carter: My life in typefaces - Matthew Carter (2014)

Pick up a book, magazine or screen, and more than likely you'll come across some typography designed by Matthew Carter. In this charming talk, the man behind typefaces such as Verdana, Georgia and Bell Centennial (designed just for phone books -- remember them?), takes us on a spin through a career focused on the very last pixel of each letter of a font.

© 2014   Created by FohBoh.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service