At first these terms were crystal clear:
Objectives are specific, time-defined and measurable. They are the goals you want to accomplish through your marketing plan and align with the overall mission.
Strategies are ways in which you plan on meeting your objectives.
Tactics are the specific methods and tools chosen to implement each strategy.
For example, let’s pretend I’m an organization. My objective is to make $50,000 annually within the next 2 years. One strategy could be to build a professional network. A second could be to increase my knowledge. A third could be to just sell my body for money.
Now let’s talk tactics.
To build a professional network I could join LinkedIn to build connections online. I could also join Rochester Young Professionals and attend local networking events where I could meet new people.
To increase my knowledge I could educate myself by getting my masters degree in marketing through Roberts Wesleyan College.
To sell my body for money I could snag a job at the Classy Cat or park myself on a troublesome corner of Lyell Avenue.
Obviously I went with the first two strategies and I’m currently carrying out those tactics among other things, but hopefully that gives some clarity to the terms.
Over time the lines between these terms seem to blur. Is social media a strategy or a tactic? Nobody seems to agree. Personally I like to view it as more of a strategy but in my example above it’s clearly listed as a tactic. Can social media be both? Does it matter?
After business plans, branding plans, pricing plans, IMC plans, social media plans and plans about planning with other plans, these same terms will continue to pop up and not always in the same way. Every once in a while you need to go back to the basics and remember that all of these plans are just components or strategies themselves that meet a larger overall mission.
In my opinion, marketing plans behave a lot like universes. You have the Milky Way with its solar system and planets. You’ll dive deep into that solar system and the next thing you know you’re on some distant moon orbiting Jupiter and Pluto isn’t even a planet anymore. Then you’ll start thinking about other universes. What’s outside the Milky Way? How many are there? Are all universes the same?
Queue brain explosion.
Come back to Earth and just remember the basics above. Otherwise, you could end up a not-so-classy cat and nobody wants that!
- H. Acito