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Don’t Confuse Tactics for Strategy When Addressing Your Online Prospects

By Sander Biehn | Jun 9, 2015

At the beginning of my career, I remember how my stomach would churn in anxiety just before entering a sales review with my VP.  It wasn’t pleasant, but I am sure I deserved much of the ‘coaching’ I received. He would begin by asking me what my strategy was with each of my accounts. I’d respond by giving him the run down on where we were with new contracts and the number of cold calls I had made to one of their divisional leaders. “Those aren’t strategies, they’re tactics!” he would roar back at me.


Strategy vs Tactics:


‘Whatever,’ I’d say to myself. What difference did it make, anyway?  Recently, my work in Social Media for marketing and sales has highlighted how important that difference really is.  Executing a solid strategy instead of randomly trying different tactics is the difference between success and failure for most companies.  In order for me to explain this better, let’s first establish some definitions:


  • Strategy defines how you use your time and energy to create an outcome.  A strategy employs one or more tactics intelligently to achieve a specific goal.


  • Tactics are merely what you do to take up time.  There is no guarantee that the time is being well spent.


Why Does it Matter?


Using a strategy versus tactics is the difference between a fishermen adeptly moving up and down a stream using a variety of lures versus throwing a stick of dynamite into a lake in order to catch fish. The unintended consequences of purely tactical thinking can be severe on the surrounding environment.  This is our message to sales and marketing teams looking to employ social media in order to increase leads and sales.


By simply creating content, or using social media to blast that content at the marketplace, the entire point is missed. Social Media is a place to exchange ideas and create dialog with prospects and customers.  While using it strategically requires time and critical thinking, it is the only way to succeed.  Social media demands a change in your organization, not just the adoption of new tools and tactics.  Sorry, there are no shortcuts.


A New Approach:


Our approach is to empower marketing and sales to use social media to create outcomes not campaigns. Using a customer-focused model to create content and interact with prospects online, relationships can be established and flourish.  It’s not a matter of being sneaky about it either. It is simply a way to interact with prospects inside the channels they monitor online.  We tell our customers that they will need to listen and respond at least as often as they push their own content. We advise that if the content they produce is not focused on the customer’s point of view, it may actually hurt their brand.


The Upside of Strategy:


On the other hand, getting it right will not only bring the target customers to the door, it will bring back a sense of dignity and empowerment to the organizations that deploy a strategic program. Intelligently approaching a marketplace will require that a number of tactics are used in a strategic and intelligent manner.  It can include social advocacy tools, CRM, and marketing automation.  Adoption and scale of new strategic thinking will vastly differentiate any business from its competitors.  This is because so many firms employ tactics without strategy and customers know it. Social media is a mere symptom of a new technological world that gives us instant access to others in order to communicate. By quenching the thirst for genuine and meaningful interaction between human beings, businesses can more fully participate in this new age of possibilities.




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