The Difference Between Strategies, Tactics + Tools

“The best marketing strategy ever: Care.”
~ Gary Vaynerchuck.

I want to share with you my thoughts on the difference between strategy, tactics and tools when it comes to marketing your business and why I think the distinction is important.

Let me start by saying that a simple google search on these terms would bring up a plethora of definitions so if you have a set idea about what these terms mean, I invite you to suspend those for a moment, as I share with you what they mean for me.

In a nutshell, I would say this.

Strategy is your overall approach/plan, tactics are the ways in which you execute that strategy and tools are quite simply what you use to get the job done.

The terms, in and of themselves, are pretty irrelevant. What matters to me and what I’d like to get across to you in this article is the difference between the overall approach (strategy) vs the ways in which you might execute that approach (tactics).

It’s also worth noting that these terms can sometimes feel quite triggering, given how they have been used in the past, so it makes sense that you might feel some resistance as you read them here. Just searching for an appropriate quote about strategy and tactics this morning, kept bring up quotes about war, battle and winning and losing. This is not at all what conscious business is about, with this in mind, I invite you to look past the words and find the meaning I’m giving to them here.

So why is looking at this distinction even important?

Because, in my experience, people get far too focused on tactics and tools and pay scant attention to strategy and approach.

Let me give you some examples to bring this to life.

Strategy = Deliver valuable content that truly serves my audience and demonstrates my expertise.

Tactic = A weekly newsletter.

Tools = Mailchimp (email provider) + Unsplash (for the photo) + The Cabin (for mindful coworking sessions)

Here’s another.

Strategy = Practice authentic outreach to create and deepen relationships with members of my network.

Tactic = Show up and engage in relevant Facebook groups.

Tool = Facebook.

For each of the above “strategies” there are a multitude of tactics I could employ to execute the strategy, but they matter less to me than the strategy itself. What I care about in my business and what I want you to care about in yours is the overall strategy or approach.

Delivering value, being of service and building relationships are my preferred strategies of choice when it comes to growing my business.

People often ask me questions like:

Should I use Facebook or Instagram (tools) to grow my audience?
Should I do pre-recorded videos or live videos (tactics) to deliver my content?
Should I do reels or stories (tactics) to promote my services on Instagram?

The thing with tactics and tools is that they come and go. They go in and out of fashion and with new trends coming up regularly, it’s easy to burn yourself out trying to keep up. If we are trying to keep up with the latest tactic then we’re doing ourselves and our audience a disservice.

I have a thriving business yet I’ve never done an Instagram reel, I’m not on Clubhouse and I only did my first ever Instagram live a few weeks ago. Rather than try to keep up with tactics and trends, I stay true to my strategy of creating valuable content and choose the tools that feel most aligned with how I want to show up in my business. I ignore the pressure to keep up with what’s trending and as a result let go of all of the shoulds — how liberating!

Do reels look like fun? Yes. Am I intrigued by Clubhouse? Sure. Do I want to spend the time and energy playing around with shiny new things rather than spend that time creating meaningful content for my people? No I don’t.

Evergreen strategies like offering value and developing and deepening relationships don’t go out of fashion. They have been staples of business growth strategy since way before the Internet was born (which was 1983 in case you were wondering) Imagine!

Now I’m not saying don’t play or experiment in your business, heaven forbid!

But I’m fairly certain that if you were to stop for a minute and get really honest with yourself, you would be able to discern between when you are experimenting and when you are grasping for the next magic solution to all your business woes.

What I’d love for you to do today or this week is the following.

Spend some time considering which evergreen strategies you feel called to employ to grow your business (I highly recommend the two I shared above!) and then look at how you want to execute them. Think first about the strategy and second about which tactics or tools feel good to you.

If you’d like to read more from me like this directly in your inbox, you can head here to subscribe to my Soulful Strategies Weekly.

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