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How Tactics Support your Business Strategy

Posted june 4, 2020 by noah parsons.

tactics in business plan

Once you’ve set the strategy for your business, the next step is to define the tactics that you’ll use to turn your strategy into a reality.

Defining your tactics is the next step in our lean business planning process . If you’re building a lean business plan, download our free template or signup for LivePlan and then follow along to create a simple, one-page strategic plan that will grow your business.

What are Business Tactics?

Tactics are the specific things you do to achieve your strategic business goals.

Strategy vs Tactics – What’s the Difference?

Strategy defines your overall goals. It’s the overall plan for your business that defines what you want your business to be. Your strategy defines the problem that your business solves and who your customers are. Your strategy defines what you want to do at a high level.

Tactics are the concrete things you’re going to do to achieve the goals you set out in your strategy. They’re the specific plans and resources that you will use to achieve your goals. Your tactics include your marketing and sales plan, the team who will execute your plans, and any other partners and resources you may need along the way.

Your strategy is  what you want to do while your tactics are  how you’re going to get it done.

Strategy and Tactics Work Together

One of the greatest military strategists recognized that strategy and tactics by themselves are essentially useless; but, when paired together correctly, they work hand-in-hand, supporting each other:

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” — Sun Tzu, “The Art of War”

No matter how great your overarching business strategy is, it’s nothing without tactics . Tactics are the things that you actually do to make your business work. They make up the implementation plan that will turn your strategy into reality. 

Your tactics are your roadmap. More specifically, they’re your marketing and sales plan, your product plan, the people you choose to be on your team, and the partners you choose to work with. Tactics are all the specific choices you make and the tasks you do to implement your strategy.

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Alignment is critical

The most important thing is that your tactics support your strategy. Because your tactics are how you’re going to execute your strategy, the two have to be in alignment.

tactics in business plan

A company that sells handcrafted leather wallets, handbags, and other fashion accessories to customers that care about things that are handmade has its strategy aligned with its tactics when the marketing campaigns communicate the origin of the leather and the story of the craftsmanship.

“Good tactics can save even the worst strategy. Bad tactics will destroy even the best strategy.” — George S. Patton

When tactics don’t align with your strategy, you’ll send a mixed message to your customers and confuse them. You might even attract the wrong customers—ones who will never buy from you—instead of connecting directly to your ideal target market.

What to include in your business tactics:

Sales channels: How are you selling your products and services? Are you selling directly to your customers online? Are you opening a physical storefront? Or, maybe you’re building a product that will get sold in other companies’ stores. In that case, you might be working with distributors. Outline how you plan on selling in this section.

Marketing activities: How are prospective customers going to learn about your company and your products? Are you going to use traditional advertising? Perhaps you plan on investing in a content marketing strategy. Or, maybe you need to attend a lot of trade shows to get in front of potential customers in your industry.

Team: When you’re planning your business, you have to not only think about what you’re going to do, but who’s going to do it. Even if you don’t have a full team yet, think about the positions that you’re going to need as you get up and running. Create a list of the key roles that you’re going to need to hire for as you grow. Don’t forget to think about your own strengths and weaknesses when you think about building a team. You’ll want to hire people that can fill in the gaps in your own skillset.

Partners and resources: Some businesses need to work with other businesses in order to be successful. If your business has critical partners, list them here. This is also a great place to list key resources your business needs, such as a license for intellectual property.

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How to Figure Out your Business Tactics

If you’re a startup, one of the first things you’ll do as you start your business is talking to potential customers to validate your strategy . As you talk to those potential customers, you’ll figure out the right tactics to support your strategy. 

Interviewing potential customers, building a basic version of your product, or even doing a Kickstarter campaign are all great ways to figure out if your idea is going to work. And, as you talk face-to-face with potential customers, you’ll figure out the best ways to market and sell your product. This knowledge will be the foundation you’ll need to figure out the tactics to support your strategy.

Tactics as part of a Lean Business Plan

You developed your strategy as the first step in building a Lean Business Plan . You figured out what problem you are solving and who you’re solving it for. You also thought about how to differentiate yourself from the competition.

As you add tactics to that strategy, start simple and focus on your sales, marketing, team, and key resources that you’re going to need to make your business work.

With a Lean Business Plan, you want to keep your list of tactics short and simple, especially in the early days of building your company. It’s easy to get bogged down thinking of every last thing that you need or want to do to get your business off the ground.

Instead, focus on the main things that you need to do. With Lean Planning, you’re going to be constantly talking to your prospective customers to refine your strategy, and you’ll refine your tactics at the same time as you learn more about your customers and determine what tactics will work.

Just keep things simple

The goal with Lean Planning is to minimize the amount of time that you spend planning and maximize your chances of success. So, move quickly through building your strategy and documenting your tactics so you can get out into the real world and figure out if your ideas are going to work.

This article is part of our series on building a lean business plan. For a comprehensive overview, check out An Introduction to Lean Planning . 

Read the rest of our Lean Planning series:

  • How to develop your business strategy
  • How to create a roadmap to grow your business
  • How to define your business model

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Noah Parsons

Noah Parsons

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  • Strategy vs. tactics: What's the differ ...

Strategy vs. tactics: What's the difference?

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The terms “strategy” and “tactics” originated as military terminology, but are now widely used today in a professional setting. Learn how you can use both strategy and tactics to build your business strategy.

Chess grandmasters don't blindly go into the game moving pieces around randomly. They have well thought out and precise moves to gain the upper hand against their opponent.

What's the difference between strategy and tactics?

The terms "strategy" and "tactics" originated as military terminology derived from Sun Tzu's The Art of War . Since then, they've been adapted to fit different situations beyond just military usage, including business strategy. 

How to build an organizational strategy

In this ebook, learn how to craft a strategic business plan that puts you ahead of the competition.

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Definition of strategy

A strategy is an action plan that you will take in the future to achieve a final end goal. Strategies help to define your long-term goals and how you go about achieving them.

Definition of tactics

While strategy is the action plan that takes you where you want to go, the tactics are the individual steps and actions that will get you there. In a business context, this means the specific actions teams take to implement the initiatives outlined in the strategy. 

If we go back to the chess analogy, strategy is positioning your pieces in a specific arrangement to get to where you want to be. Tactics are that act of moving said pieces into those positions. 

The relationship between strategies and tactics

In The Art of War , Sun Tzu wrote, "All men can see the tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved." Sun Tzu illustrates that while tactics are more concrete and easier to see, an overarching strategy is equally important. The question should not be strategy vs. tactics, but strategy and tactics. Think of these two techniques as two different sides of the same coin—both are necessary to achieve your goals. 

If someone is trying to reach their goals solely with strategy, they won't get anywhere since tactics are the concrete action items that take you where you need to go. When a team only uses strategy, the only thing that they'll be doing is planning to achieve goals instead of doing the work that needs to be done to achieve them. 

On the other hand, you can't achieve your business goals on tactics alone. Tactics without strategy quickly turns into aimless work. When this is the case, people are just taking arbitrary actions with no strategic objective in place. In the short term, this can feel like busywork for team members. In the long term, it can lead to frustration, burnout , and job dissatisfaction. 

What makes a good strategy?

Data-informed decisions.

A good strategy is well thought out, planned, and extremely well researched. If you're looking to build a strong, long-term strategy, it's important to gather information and data from past experiences to influence your future data-driven decision making process. 

For example, some industries experience seasonality with their business. Knowing how to use that seasonality to your advantage is an example of good strategic thinking and using historical data to your benefit. 

Clearly defined goals

The best strategies are built around clearly defined goals. It's much easier to build a good strategy when you know exactly what you need to achieve. Having clearly defined goals is a key part of the overall planning process for long-term strategy. Some people plan both their strategy and their business goals at the same time, which can streamline the process. But if there's no end goal, trying to create your strategy is like trying to run a race without knowing the route.

Contingency plans

The success of your strategy is contingent on an expected outcome, but what happens when your strategy gets derailed? This is where a contingency plan comes in. If you build a contingency plan into your strategy, then you can plan for speed bumps. Your team will know what to do to get over the speed bump to prevent the project from getting completely derailed. 

What makes good tactics?

Tactics are short term.

If the strategy is the long-term plan, tactics are the short-term steps that help you hit smaller goals. Tactical planning is the act of breaking down your strategic plan into short-term actions.

Tactics are clearly tied to strategy

If you’re struggling to understand how a specific tactic contributes to your strategy, it might not be the best tactic for your strategy. The work you do should actively contribute to the goals that you want to achieve.

The goal-setting framework OKRs is a good example of how short-term tactics connect to a long-term vision. There is one main objective, and there are key results that you set to achieve that main objective. The tactics that people work on regularly contribute to the growth of the key result.

Tactics are actionable and time-bound

Tactics are best executed in a limited time frame. Similar to most goal-setting strategies, creating time-bound deadlines ensures that tactics are actually completed within a set time frame. If you’re not sure how to create actionable and time-bound tactics, try using the SMART goal methodology.

Examples of business strategy and tactics

Here are a few examples of how business strategists can use both good strategy and smart tactics to achieve their business goals.

People team

Strategy: Interview 20% more candidates from historically underrepresented communities in tech.


Sponsor historically underrepresented community groups that focus on STEM.

Create opportunities for students with alternative education paths, such as bootcamps and trade schools.

Regularly share job listings on platforms that target under represented communities.

Digital marketing team

Strategy: Increase trial sign ups by 30%

Increase visibility on web pages by adding a free trial pop-up at 50% scroll.

Offer a free e-book with every trial sign up offer.

Promote trial sign ups through social media marketing.

Web development team

Strategy : Decrease page speed by 1 second.

Identify excess code that is affecting page speed and find streamlined alternatives.

Compress on-page images to less than 1 MB.

Reduce the number of page redirects.

Manage strategy and tactics using work management tools

Good strategy starts with organized planning. If you're looking for a way to keep your business goals organized, consider using a work management tool . Work management software can help connect your day-to-day tactics to long-term strategy. 

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Strategic vs. Tactical Planning: The What, When, & Why

Meredith Hart

Published: March 01, 2022

Whether you've set personal or business goals, you likely created a plan to achieve them. Without clearly defined steps, it can be difficult or even discouraging to tackle the goal you've set.

Strategic vs. Tactical Planning

One example of a situation where planning and strategy come in handy is during a job search . Let's say you've spent weeks or months scouring the internet for a new sales job, but none of the job postings seem to match your skill set or career interests.

Have you taken a step back and thought about a specific type of sales job you want? And did you consider the most important qualities you're looking for in an employer or career?

Your online job search will become less tedious and disheartening if you have a clear set of objectives to follow. While you might get more search results for "sales manager", you'll find jobs that are a better fit for you if you clarify by searching for "senior sales manager - medical devices."

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With your new search strategy, you've identified a seniority level and the industry you'd like to work in. The next steps you set for yourself are to periodically repeat this search and only apply to the roles that seem like the best fit for you and your career aspirations.

Thinking strategically helps you narrow down your search and use your time more effectively. Plus, you'll increase the likelihood of landing a job that's a great fit for you.

Once you aced your interviews and landed the perfect sales job, you'll find that these types of planning, strategic and tactical, are used by many businesses and sales teams to set themselves up for success.

Strategic vs. Tactical Planning

Strategic planning lays out the long-term, broad goals that a business or individual wants to achieve. And tactical planning outlines the short-term steps and actions that should be taken to achieve the goals described in the strategic plan.

Your strategic plan provides the general idea of how to reach a goal, and the tactical plan is where you lay out the steps to achieve that goal.

Since the objectives set in the strategic plan are more general and are evaluated over a longer period of time, strategic planning typically occurs at the beginning of a year, quarter, or month. These plans should be reviewed every quarter.

Tactical planning occurs after the strategic plan is outlined, and the tactical plan can be reexamined on a more frequent basis — if need be.

Details how the purpose, duration, and output differs between Strategic and Tactical Planning in black and light grey

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Here are some high-level examples that touch on the difference between the two types of planning.

Strategy vs. Tactics

Let's consider the perspective of a hypothetical company analyzing different strategies to improve different aspects of its sales operations.

1. Sales Recruitment

  • Strategy — We want to develop repeatable evaluation criteria for hiring the right salespeople.
  • Tactics — We will narrow down the specific qualities the company wants out of its salespeople, draft appropriate interview questions to shed light on those qualities, and train recruiters to conduct interviews based on those key tenets.

2. Smarketing

  • Strategy — We want to improve sales and marketing alignment.
  • Tactics — We will clearly define the qualities of an SQL so that marketing can fous their efforts on those, encourage collaboration between departments on the creation of sales content, and hold interdepartmental retrospectives after each marketing campaign.

3. Technological Infrastructure

  • Strategy — We want to build a more sound, technological foundation for our sales operations.
  • Tactics — We will adopt a CRM, incorporate a conversational intelligence tool for improving sales calls, and make virtual sales enablement resources available to our reps.

Taken together, the strategies and tactics a sales organization employs — like the ones listed above — comprise what are known as sales plans.

Sales Plans

A sales plan encompasses both strategic and tactical planning and contributes to an organization's overarching sales strategy . It outlines the broad goals your sales team and reps should strive for, and it creates an action plan to reach them.

The strategic plan sheds light on the mission, objectives, and future goals of the organization or individual. Managers, VPs, and executives typically create strategic plans for an organization, but this type of plan can also be used by individuals to achieve personal or professional goals.

These are the key components to include in a strategic plan:

  • Mission and background of the business or situation: Where do you currently stand? And where do you want to be in the future?
  • Goals and objectives: What would you like to achieve?
  • DRIs (directly responsible individuals): Who are the people responsible for these goals?

Strategic planning and tactical planning provide guidelines for businesses, teams, and individuals to follow. And the tactical plan outlines exactly how they'll achieve the final result.

Strategic Goals vs. Tactical Goals

A major part of planning, whether it’s strategic or tactical, is setting goals. You should actually set goals for both your strategic planning and your tactical planning. Having those objectives clearly laid out helps push your plans into direct action. Your strategic goals should be broader while your tactical ones should be more specific.

For example, a strategic goal may be to develop a company culture that encourages growth and retention. A tactical goal may be to survey all existing employees to gain information on why they weren’t retained. If your tactical planning and your strategic planning are related, then the goals for each should also have a connection between them.

Strategic Planning

A strategy is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a careful plan or method for achieving a particular goal usually over a long period of time.” So, strategic planning is meant to achieve something for the bigger picture.

Tactical planning includes the immediate actions that feed into the larger purpose outlined by a strategy. These plans are carried out in the long term and incorporate big, impactful changes. There are nine strategic planning models your business can use as a starting point.

South Dakota Mines strategic plan with vision and mission statements in blue and white.

Strategic Planning Examples

IT company's strategic business initiatives in blue, orange, and white

Since tactical planning is more direct, it’s often more specific to your team or business. Strategic plans, however, are often broad enough to be applied to a whole niche or industry. For instance, strategic planning for sales could involve some similar goals across different companies, but their tactical plans may be unique. Here are a few examples of strategic plans that could apply to different businesses.

  • Acquire 50% more clients by the end of the year.
  • Improve SEO rankings by 20%.
  • Expand the customer service team where satisfaction is lacking.

Tactical Planning

Tactical planning occurs after a business, team, or individual has created a strategic plan that outlines general goals and objectives. A tactical plan describes the steps and actions that must be taken to achieve the goals from the strategic plan.

Once you've created your strategic plan, it's time to determine the tactics you'll use to reach your goals. This is where the tactical plan comes into play.

It's used to outline the steps a business or individual will need to take to accomplish the priorities that have been set. Here are a few things to consider when developing your tactical plan:

  • What is the timeline for achieving these goals?
  • Are there tools or resources that are necessary to accomplish these objectives?
  • What specific actions should be taken to achieve the intended outcome?

Your tactical plan will provide the answers to these questions to help you meet the objectives of the strategic plan.

So, what do strategic and tactical planning look like in practice?

Tactical Planning Examples

While strategic and tactical plans can vary by company or industry, there are some that can apply to many sales organizations and teams.

Here are a few examples that are common for sales teams and reps. The strategic plans are numbered, and the tactical plans are outlined below.

1. Fill my pipeline with more leads over the next two weeks.

  • Spend an hour prospecting each day.
  • Leverage social selling, and join five LinkedIn Groups that your prospects belong to.
  • Attend an industry networking event.

2. Close more enterprise deals each month.

  • Enroll reps in a hands-on training session in your Enterprise product offerings.
  • Set a goal for each rep to schedule at least three demos with enterprise-level prospects this quarter.
  • Create an incentive for those that close the most Enterprise deals in the month.

3. Hire 20 more entry-level sales representatives by the end of Q1.

  • Create a hiring profile that candidates should meet.
  • Develop a LinkedIn outreach campaign to find and attract new talent.
  • Attend career fairs at 15 local universities.

Your Business Needs Both Strategic and Tactical Planning

There is a purpose to both strategic and tactical planning. Each moves your business’ progress closer to larger goals and objectives. With a solid strategic plan and a detailed tactical plan, you'll be well-equipped to grow your business.

Editor's note: This post was originally published on February 28, 2019, and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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Planning for Success: A Guide to Tactical Planning in Business


When it comes to running a successful business, planning is key. But how do you make sure your plans are effective and achievable?

That’s where tactical business planning comes in. Tactical planning focuses on the “how” of getting things done. It’s the difference between having an idea and making it happen.

Let’s take a look at what tactical business planning is, why it matters, and how to use it to improve your business outcomes.

What’s the Difference Between Strategy and Tactics?

Have you ever heard someone talk about strategy or tactics in business, and wondered what the difference was?

It is actually simpler than it might sound:

In a nutshell, strategy refers to your big-picture plan, while tactics are more focused on your day-to-day implementation of that plan.

Let’s take a look at each of these concepts and how they work together.

Strategy: The Big Picture

A strategy is an overarching plan that guides your decisions and helps you achieve your goals.

It is created by looking at your current situation, evaluating the potential outcomes, and determining how best to achieve your desired results.

Strategy should be based on data and research, as well as an understanding of past successes and failures. A good strategy will set out specific objectives, identify key stakeholders, outline potential risks, and provide an actionable timeline for success.

Tactics: The Nitty Gritty Implementation

Tactics are the ways you go about executing your strategy. They are specific actions taken to achieve desired results.

Tactics can include anything from developing marketing materials to launching a new product or service. A tactic could be a specific way your team sells your product, or a certain method you’ve created to support your customers, or even a growth hack you use to grow your business.

Tactics should always be tailored to meet the needs of your business as well as those of your customers or clients. When creating or implementing tactics it’s important to consider the impact on both your short-term goals (such as increasing sales) and your long-term goals (such as building brand awareness).

Tactical plans should also include measurable metrics so that progress can be tracked over time.

Strategic vs. Tactical Planning?

When it comes to planning, there are two main approaches — strategic planning and tactical planning .

Both involve setting goals, assessing progress, and making decisions that will help you reach those goals.

But what exactly is the difference between these two types of plans, and how can understanding their differences help you make better decisions for your business?

Let’s take a closer look.

What Is Strategic Planning?

At its core, strategic planning involves looking at the big picture.

This type of planning focuses on long-term objectives and goals, taking into account any external factors that could impact your progress.

A key part of strategic planning is considering which strategies could be implemented in order to achieve your “big picture” goals, and which factors might influence the success or failure of those strategies.

For example, when creating a strategic plan for your business you might consider factors like market trends, potential growth opportunities, and the competitive landscape, in order to determine which actions should be taken in order to reach your desired outcome.

What Is Tactical Planning?

Tactical planning is focused more on short-term objectives than long-term ones.

A tactical plan looks at specific tasks that can be completed in order to achieve a goal or objective within a certain time frame, and it focuses on utilizing resources efficiently in order to complete those tasks successfully.

For example, if you wanted to launch a marketing campaign for your business within the next month, your tactical plan might involve creating an actionable timeline with steps such as researching target markets, creating content assets for the campaign, and budgeting for your project, in order to ensure everything is completed before the desired deadline.

What is Tactical Planning in Business?

Tactical planning in business involves developing an actionable plan using available resources, while at the same time attempting to minimize the risk levels associated with the different options.

Let’s break that down.

A tactical plan starts by identifying measurable goals or objectives related to specific outcomes (such as increasing revenue or improving productivity).

Then, one develops the steps required to reach those objectives within a predefined time frame. A tactical objective is usually something achievable within a short period of time, say 1–6 months.

When building a tactical plan for your business it’s important to take into consideration any potential obstacles or roadblocks that might get in the way. By predicting challenges and coming up with solutions for overcoming them, continual progress can be made towards completion of the goals set out in your tactical plan.

It’s also important to establish performance measures so that progress can be tracked over time in order to determine if key objectives are being met.

Why Does Tactical Planning in Business Matter?

Tactical planning is an essential tool for businesses and organizations wanting to succeed (which most certainly is all of them).

Without a comprehensive plan of action, well-defined goals, clear strategies and a focus on implementation, it becomes difficult to accomplish anything worthwhile, and many organizations fall into the habit of foregoing tactical planning.

Tactical planning forces managers to regularly assess their operations — making sure they don’t become complacent while also encouraging them to be creative in finding new opportunities. It also helps with decision making and aligning to future objectives.

All this promotes growth and progress, helping organizations reach their full potential as efficiently as possible. It’s easy to see why tactical planning matters!

How to Build a Tactical Plan

As they say, “ failing to plan is planning to fail. “

And it’s true — you can’t hope to reach your goals without having a plan in place.

Whether it’s for personal or professional reasons, there are some core steps you should always keep in mind when creating a tactical plan.

Step 1: Identify Your Goals and Objectives

The first step when creating a tactical plan is to identify your goals and objectives.

This includes both short and long term goals, as well as measurable milestones that indicate progress along the way.

It’s important to be realistic when setting your goals — if they are too ambitious, you may end up burning yourself out before you even get started! Instead, break down the larger goal into smaller, achievable tasks that can be completed over time.

Step 2: Assess Your Resources and Capabilities

Once you have identified your goals, take an honest look at your resources and capabilities. Do you have enough time? Money? Knowledge? Skills?

If not, consider how you can act on those resources and capabilities in order to make progress towards your goal. Also consider any external factors that could affect the outcome of your plan, like for example, if there is new legislation coming into effect that could impact the success of your project.

Step 3: Create an Action Plan

Now it’s time to start putting together an action plan.

This includes outlining what tasks need to be done in order to achieve each goal or milestone within the timeline set out in the previous steps.

Make sure each task in your tactical action plan is detailed with specific deadlines and assigned roles so everyone knows exactly what needs to be done and when it needs to be done by. It’s also important to include contingency plans in case something goes wrong along the way; this will ensure that any disruptions are minimized as much as possible.

Step 4: Monitor Progress and Adjust As Necessary

As with any project, monitoring progress is key if you want it to succeed.

Be sure to regularly check in with team members and adjust plans as needed. This will help ensure that everything stays on track and no one gets left behind or overwhelmed due to lack of direction or guidance from leadership.  

Step 5: Celebrate Successes!

Once all of your hard work has paid off and all of the planned tasks have been completed successfully, don’t forget to take some time to celebrate your successes!

Whether it’s sending an email thanking everyone involved, or inviting your team to a celebratory dinner, taking some time out from all the hard work is essential for staying motivated.

Executing a successful tactical plan isn’t easy. It takes coordination, communication, and commitment from all parties involved in order for it to work properly.

But if done correctly, tactical planning can yield amazing results for your business.

By following the steps of defining your strategic goals, identifying tactics, and then executing the plan, you’ll have everything you need to succeed.

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Strategy vs. tactics: the difference is execution

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Creating any kind of plan — whether it is a marketing plan, team-building scheme, or blueprint for developing leaders within your business — requires a sound understanding of both strategy and tactics.

Your overall plan is going to break down into both a strategic plan and a tactical plan.

Many of us use the two terms interchangeably and don’t really understand the difference between strategy versus tactics.

However, there is a difference and a pretty big one at that.

Understanding the factors that contribute to the strategy vs. tactics discussion is the first step to constructing a sound business strategy or deciding on the digital marketing tactics you’re going to employ.

Let’s take a look at:  

  • The differences between strategies and tactics
  • Why they’re both important
  • Examples of how you can use this information in your professional life

What is the difference between strategy and tactics?

The best way to break down the difference between strategic and tactical execution is to consider that your strategy embodies the following:

  • Closely relates to your main objective or goal
  • Outlines how you plan to achieve your main objective or goal

Tactics, then, are closer to the ‘real world.’ They are the specific actions you plan to take to deliver on that strategy.

Let’s illustrate this with an example. Imagine that your business objective is to increase your sales.

Based on that business goal, you’re going to develop some specific strategies. Let’s say you develop three:

  • Utilize social media
  • Increase outbound sales
  • Improve content marketing

Based on those three strategies, you’d then dive deeper into the specific tactical action you will take for each.

For example, your social media marketing strategy might involve these tactics:

  • Using paid advertising to promote your new product
  • Engaging with Facebook groups relevant to your target audience
  • Hiring a new social media marketer to post organically five times per day

Your tactical planning might go even deeper, specifying what kinds of posts your marketing person will publish.

For instance, one of those posts might be sharing a blog post related to your strategic decision to engage in content marketing activities.

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Why is it important to understand the strategy versus tactics debate?

The main benefit of understanding the difference between strategic objectives and tactics is that it allows you to separate the strategic thinking process .

This helps to create a clear strategy that doesn’t get bogged down in tactical details.

It can be all too easy to fall into the specifics of how you will enact your grand strategy.

This could keep you from spending time as a leadership team  or business owner developing an overall strategy that aligns closely with each goal  your company has defined.

What defines a strategy?

Strategy is the intent. It determines what needs to be done and why and has a way of assessing its effectiveness.

It’s your mission, vision, and long-term plan to achieve your goals.

It involves intentional and focused high-level thinking that defines a direction to take in the future. Strategies are aligned with the goals, objectives, and broad vision you want to achieve.

Typically, strategy is formed by leaders within the organization. Group-, product-, or campaign-level strategies should be clearly related to the strategy set at the top.

Executives develop the overall company or corporate strategy and set objectives related to the strategy, for example, to be the market leader in electric trucks by capturing the premium truck market in North America. Each function or group will have objectives that drive that strategy and will have to develop its own strategies to achieve those objectives.  Because it is less tangible, part of developing a strategy is developing the metrics you will use to measure and evaluate the progress and effectiveness of the strategy.

When devising a strategy, you need an outward, external-looking perspective on technology and social trends, market conditions, and competition. There are many frameworks to draw upon when developing and evaluating a strategy. Some, like SWOT analysis, are more appropriate for launching products in existing markets, while frameworks such as OKR can be adapted for many different types of strategies across the organization. 

The components of a winning strategy include:

  • Clear, attainable objectives
  • Company core value alignment
  • Resource allocation
  • Prioritization of strategies

Strategic planning does not include execution details, however. That’s where your tactics come in.

Why is a strategy important?

A strategy is an element of planning that groups tactics under a common path. With a strategy in place, if a tactic doesn't work, it’s not game over.

When you have a solid strategy in place, you’re better informed to develop specific tactics that you feel will work.

It’s more likely that your tactics will pay off if they are aligned with your strategy. But even if you get some of them wrong, you still have the guidance of your strategy to determine new tactics.

Having a well-defined strategy helps business owners and leaders to delegate tactical planning. This means that they don’t need to be involved in every aspect of delivering on their long-term organizational goals.

woman on a strategy video call with multiple people

What defines a tactic?

Tactics involve putting intent into action by determining how it must be done by focusing on efficiency (cost, effort, and resources).

It involves concrete actions and steps to implement that fall in line with the direction of your strategy.

Where your strategy acts as the compass, guiding you toward your goal, your tactics are your roadmap.

They are actionable, measurable, and repeatable.

When establishing tactics, you need to have an inward view that you can execute with fewer resources, time, and money.

Tactics are typically defined and executed by managers. They’re easy to evaluate through well-defined metrics.

Tactical plans can include timelines and implementation details regarding when and where they will be applied in a tangible way.

The components of a well-chosen tactic include:

  • The fit between the tactic and the strategy
  • Who is going to execute the tactic
  • How you will measure the effectiveness of the tactic
  • Timelines implementation

Why are tactics important?

Without a clearly defined tactical plan, you’re just wandering around blindly trying to achieve your goals. You don’t have a real tangible map for getting there.

Yes, you have your strategies. But they are more like guiding stars than nautical coordinates.

Developing tactics based on your strategies allows you to:

  • Assign specific tasks to subordinates
  • Measure success (or failure)
  • Use those results to inform future planning

Breaking down strategy versus tactics further

Now that you know why the difference between strategy versus tactics matters, let’s dive a little deeper. 

What’s unique about strategy?

Every planning process should start with a target in mind. This goal should justify and drive all of your other goals — and ultimately, it will define your strategy. Your strategy answers the question of “what should I do, how should I do it, and why?”

Strategy is often confused with tactics because both refer to the specific path to getting something done. However, strategy is far more nuanced. A tactic is an action taken: it’s not good or bad in and of itself. A business strategy is a way of determining if a tactic is in alignment with the overarching goals and values of the organization.

Main components of strategy

  • Focused on the outcome of long-term goals
  • Requires high-level thinking
  • Always future-based
  • Often involves cross-functional collaboration
  • Answers the question: “How does our company fit into the market, the larger community, or the world?”

What’s unique about tactics? 

Once a strategy is established, the team must set themselves on the task of actually executing it successfully. That’s where tactics (also known as execution) come into play. 

As the well-known saying indicates, there’s more than one way to reach a goal — the question is how to accomplish it in the right time and with the intended outcome. That said, strategic thinking is required to choose the right tactics for your goals. 

You must keep your ultimate vision in mind while you’re building a roadmap of tactics to get there. The right tactics will get you there quickly and efficiently. The wrong tactics will distract you and impact the success of your strategy. 

Main components of tactics

  • Detail-oriented, short-term actions
  • Answers “who, how, and when?”
  • Are designed to make progress toward the strategy
  • Are designed to generate new information about the nature of the goal and strategy 
  • Are present-focused (“what can we do now?”) and iterative

What makes a good strategy?

It takes time and input from many voices to develop a good strategy. However, once devised, it can streamline decision-making dramatically. That’s because the primary decision has already been made, so to speak. The other subsequent choices simply need to align with the long-term vision. 

If a recent college graduate has a choice, for example, of working as a paralegal or medical assistant, the decision is much simpler if they already know that the ultimate goal is to become a doctor.

The best strategy: 

  • Streamlines decision making
  • Aligns the team toward a common goal
  • Helps to contextualize setbacks
  • Informs directions for future growth

What makes a good tactic?

Good tactics are employed with the explicit intention of realizing the goal outlined in the strategy. Each step that a team takes should be clearly defined and unambiguously aligned with the future direction of the company. 

Well-aligned tactics increase employee engagement and retention. They also improve employee buy-in by minimizing the appearance of “arbitrary” policies and busy work.

The best tactics:

  • Are mission-driven
  • Are well-reasoned and make good use of available resources
  • Are evaluated for effectiveness
  • Occur within a set timeframe
  • Are part of a larger plan, not random events

The relationship between strategy and tactics

We’ve made it pretty clear that strategy and tactics are separate and distinct functions of business planning, despite often being used as synonyms.

These two aspects of organizational success are distinct. They are also often overseen and managed by different parties. But, there is an important link between strategic and tactical planning.

The relationship between strategy and tactics is that your strategy informs  your tactics.

That is, you can’t jump straight to designing specific tactics before you’ve spent time fleshing out a solid strategy. Well, perhaps we should say that you shouldn’t.

Because although it’s possible to dive straight into tactical planning, you’re very likely to stray from the right path if you do so.

Similarly, your strategy relies on specific tactics being developed in order to be successful.

You can’t simply develop a high-level strategy and then expect that the correct actions will flow.

With that in mind, how do you actually go about measuring the success of your strategy and tactics?

woman with dark hair strategizing at her laptop

What comes first, tactic or strategy?

There’s really no reason to execute tactics without strategic objectives in mind. That’s why before you start planning specific actions, you need to develop an overall strategy. 

When it comes to developing a business plan or strategy, try to keep this in mind. It can be easy to focus on a list of to-do’s that make you look good to other people. However, business tactics like posting on social media or hiring new employees won’t be effective without a long-term strategy.

How to track your strategy and tactics

Your overarching strategy should inform your tactics. If you’ve got your tactics nicely aligned, tracking them essentially means tracking your strategies.

This is a positive thing as many strategies themselves can be hard to track from a numerical perspective.

To track and measure the effectiveness of your various tactics, you need to assign measurable values to them in the first place. They need to have distinct key performance indicators (KPIs).

For example, let’s say your strategy is to improve employee well-being  or employee retention . Then, your tactic is to hold more company events. You’ll need to ask yourself the question: what quantifies ‘more’?

Is it one more than you held last year? Is it 10 more? Is it one per month, or one per week? Putting a numerical value against your tactics helps you to assess whether they are on track or not.

Sometimes this value is binary. That is, the tactic was successful, or it failed.

For example, one of your tactics might have been to hold a staff holiday party. You will only have one shot at measuring this each year, so it hardly needs to be assigned a numerical value.

So, how do you go about tracking those metrics?

Here are a few ways:

  • Create a spreadsheet with your tactical metrics, and set up check-in dates.
  • Set up a weekly report from your marketing automation software to report on marketing tactics.
  • Design a monthly employee engagement survey to evaluate the effectiveness of your well-being tactics .
  • Use a project management platform to track metrics. Invite managers and key stakeholders to contribute, while delegating necessary tasks .
  • Assign a leader in your company to each tactic, and plan a monthly meeting with them to track progress. Keep notes on these meetings so you can analyze changes over time.

Strategy versus tactics examples

Let’s illustrate the difference between strategy and tactics at work with three examples:

Example 1: applying for a job

Strategies that you might employ to find a new job would be:

  • Using your current skillset
  • Going to college to change your career path
  • Becoming an apprentice and learning a new trade

Tactics examples to achieve these strategies might be:

  • Uploading your resume and applying for jobs
  • Visiting five local colleges
  • Researching apprenticeships online

Example 2: improving employee engagement

Let’s say you’re an HR manager looking to lift employee engagement in your workplace. You might work on a strategy such as increasing employee autonomy and empowerment.

Examples of tactics to achieve these strategies might be:

  • Scheduling one day every two weeks where employees can do any work of their choice
  • Designing a mentor/mentee program  within your organization
  • Allowing team members to delegate urgent but less crucial tasks, giving them more responsibility

Example 3: attracting better talent

Another common goal for HR managers is to hire exceptional talent. This often involves attracting and onboarding more qualified and relevant talent.

A strategy for achieving this goal might be to design a scalable and repeatable interview process. Then, middle and frontline managers in various branches will be able to use this process.

This strategy could break down into more specific tactics, such as:

  • Determining applicant evaluation criteria
  • Creating an interview question template
  • Involving a hiring committee or recruiter to make unbiased decisions

Strategy versus tactics: is it time to get strategic or tactical?

The key to being both a great strategic planner and tactical manager is understanding what is required and when.

A strategy is your overarching plan for achieving your goals, but it doesn’t get bogged down in specifics. You can think of this as your compass, guiding your organization toward your objective.

On the other hand, tactics are actionable, measurable decisions that allow your teams to deliver on your strategy. Rather than acting as a general compass, tactics create a roadmap for success that anyone can follow.

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Elizabeth Perry

Content Marketing Manager, ACC

Strategy versus tactics: planning and executing on your goals

Want to retain talent start with your talent acquisition strategy, improving digital employee experience (dex): 6 virtual retention ideas, effective negotiation tactics to level-up your career, what are influencing tactics and how do you use them, how to turn generational differences into employee retention, wondering what you're good at here are 10 ways to figure it out, transitioning to hybrid work these 9 tactics will drive engagement, developing your dream team: 7 game-changing tactics, similar articles, 6 tactics to unlock operational excellence and drive performance, what i didn’t know before working with a coach: the power of intentionality, in manager vs. supervisor, find out which differences matter, leader vs. manager: what's the difference, strategic planning: read this before it's that time again, strategic plan vs. work plan: what's the difference, the only guide you'll need to create effective cascading goals, goals versus objectives: learn to lead your teams to success, stay connected with betterup, get our newsletter, event invites, plus product insights and research..

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6 Tactics for Achieving Your Strategic Plan

How to achieve your strategic plan.

tactics in business plan

In my last post , I shared the top 4 reasons why 9 out of 10 strategic plans fail. Now that we're in a new year and need to put these plans into motion, you'll need to get everyone in your company moving toward your established goals. In order to do this, it's best to make your strategic plan as focused and as simple as possible, but not  too  simple. Here are 6 tactics you can use to improve your strategic plan's success rate and achieve your goals.

Tactic 1:  Establish Your Vision, Mission, and Overarching Goals

When setting out on a new course, you'll want to take stock of all of the issues that could either aid or interfere in your progress. Capture customer, employee, and shareholder feedback to identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. In fact, it's wise to  give top priority to customer feedback , since every company's future ultimately depends on its ability to serve their customers better than their competitors.

This in-depth analysis of your company from the outside in is essential for charting the right course in a fast changing world. Here are some examples of overarching goals, and how to measure them, for each of your major constituents:

  • Customer:  The “provider of choice” as measured by customer delight.
  • Employee:  The “employer of choice” as measured by employee satisfaction levels.
  • Shareholder:  #1 in shareholder return as measured by capital gain plus dividend.
  • Community:  “Highly valued member of community” as measured by philanthropic contributions.

Tactic 2:  Measure Your Progress

Once you've established your primary goals, you will need to make sure that you develop strategies to achieving them. I like to use the “rule of 3”: target 3 major strategies for each identified goal. You will also need to develop concrete metrics with breakthrough objectives for each strategy that will allow you to track your progress on an ongoing basis.

For example, if you were to focus on the  #2  overarching goal on the above list ( becoming the "employer of choice" ), this is one strategy you could establish, including relevant metrics:  

Strategy: Retain the Best

"We will retain outstanding performers at every level by providing a challenging environment with ample opportunities to grow."

  • Performance Metric: Employee Retention
  • Current Performance: 76%
  • Pacesetter: 85%

Tactic 3:  Turn Long-Term Strategies into Short-Term Tactics

Now that you've defined the clear-cut goals, strategies, and metrics for your company, it's time to analyze the  gaps between your current performance and the benchmark . To continue with the “ Retain the best employees ” strategy, you can use my “rule of 3” again to identify 3 tactics to close the gap in the coming 12-18 months. An important note, just as with strategies, limit yourself to listing only 3 achievable tactics. Any more and you risk lowering your chances of making any progress due to resource constraints, lack of focus, etc., so it's best to keep it simple.

Here are the 3 tactics you can use to  retain the best employees :

  • Establish career path and incorporate career planning into annual performance reviews.
  • Maintain manager to field service engineer staffing ratio to enable career guidance, training needs, and performance feedback.
  • Establish field service engineer training and certification plans that complement employee career paths.

Tactic 4:  Get Everyone on Board

Once you've identified the tactical plan for the upcoming year, you'll then need to deploy the objectives throughout your organization using a concept called the “time span of control.” As the leader, you are focused on delivering the year:

  • Your management team has to deliver 4 good quarters to achieve the annual objectives.
  • Their team has to deliver 3 good months every quarter.
  • The front line leaders have to deliver 4 good weeks every month.
  • Each employee has to deliver 5 good days each week.

Deploying your objectives in this way ensures that everyone in your company knows the duties expected of them and how their day-to-day work directly contributes to the company's strategic goals. It also identifies the budget required to achieve each tactic and you'll be able to spot where your incentives are misaligned.

To continue with our example goal of  retaining the best employees , one objective you can deploy is to establish career paths. To follow the “time span of control” for this objective, the following must happen:

  • The leadership team establishes career paths that align with future needs.
  • Regional managers formally incorporate a career discussion into the annual performance appraisal.
  • Each district manager holds quarterly “ride-alongs” to understand training needs.
  • Employees have training and certification courses that they must complete.

Tactic 5:  Put Together a Simple Strategic Document to Serve as Your Compass

Once you've completed this integrated planning process, you then publish a simple, straightforward 3-page strategic plan that lists your vision, goals, strategies, and top priority tactics. For an example of what this looks like,  download this free Hardware Manufacturer's Strategic Growth Plan  TSIA has designed for any service executive looking to transform their business.

Free Download: Strategic Growth Plan for Hardware Manufacturers

This document is the official company-wide strategic plan that sets the direction each year, and the best part is that everyone gets a copy. This format is designed to be short and to the point to help everyone within your company focus on the top priorities for the upcoming year as you journey to your five-year goals.

Tactic 6:  Stick to a Results-Oriented Management Process

While winning strategies and tactics are important, don't forget that even the best plan in the world is only ink on a page until you put it to work, and make it work. You will have to be disciplined in converting this good work into breakthrough results, which is where the “time span of control” comes in handy again.

Each management level described above has to develop a process and scorecards around their “time span of control” to ensure they've chosen the right tactics and are delivering predicted results. For example: 

  • Every quarter, the board and investment community requires the leaders to provide a status to ensure progress to the annual objectives.
  • To ensure those quarterly calls go well, you will need to conduct monthly operational reviews with your management team to make sure they deliver 3 good months.
  • Your management team establishes, for example, weekly staff meetings to ensure that they deliver 4 good weeks.
  • Each employee knows what they have to do each day to ensure they deliver 5 good days.

How This Simpler Strategy Doc Can Help You Achieve Your Strategic Plan and Avoid Failure

The reason this approach works so well is that it specifically addresses the four reasons why strategic plans fail,  as I outlined in my last post .

To recap, here are all four of the reasons strategic plans fail once more, and how this plan prevents them from happening.

  • Reason for Failure #1:  “Employees don't understand the strategy.” Solution:  The 3-page strategic plan format is easily understood and aligns strategy, tactic, and measurements for every employee.
  • Reason for Failure #2:  “The executive team spends less than an hour per month to discuss the strategy.”  Solution:  Results-oriented management process focused on achieving your quarterly goals via a scorecard (the final page of the strategic growth plan example above) ensures that you are talking about the metrics that align to  this  year's efforts, not yesterday's. 
  • Reason for Failure #3:  “The budget is not aligned to the strategic plan.” Solution:  Restricting tactics forces prioritization and budgets are assessed against the tactics. 
  • Reason for Failure #4:  “Employee incentives are not aligned to the strategic plan.” Solution:  Incentives are reassessed against the priorities to ensure you're encouraging the right behavior. 
You don't get points for predicting rain. You get points for building arks. - Lou Gerstner

I created this strategic growth plan to help you start putting points on the board. TSIA can provide the strategic insights to establish your overarching goals.  Our benchmarking  can show where your largest opportunities are and what the pacesetter tactics are to help you significantly improve your business. 

What's Next?

Read the other post in the "How to Achieve Your Strategic Plan" blog series: 4 Reasons Why Most Strategic Plans Fail .

If you have hardware on customer site that you service, TSIA's Field Services research practice was made for you. To learn more about how we can help you create or improve your strategic plan to achieve your goals, contact TSIA today .

   January 3, 2017

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strategic vs tactical planning

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By Colin Baker Leaders Staff

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Colin Baker

Leadership and Business Writer

Colin Baker is a business writer for Leaders Media. He has a background in as a television journalism, working as...

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Updated Dec 14, 2022

Reviewed by Hannah L. Miller

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Hannah L. Miller

Senior Editor

Hannah L. Miller, MA, is the senior editor for Leaders Media. Since graduating with her Master of Arts in 2015,...

Strategic vs. Tactical Planning: Which One is Better?

At a business meeting, management has set an ambitious goal of new sales to hit by the end of the year. The salespeople are excited, and company leadership is eager for their organization to achieve new heights. The question remains: How will they reach this new goal? That’s the dilemma many organizations struggle with as they seek to grow their businesses. Anyone can set goals and objectives, but achieving them is another matter. Planning your strategy and tactics is essential. Knowing the difference between tactical vs. strategic planning is often the difference between succeeding or failing to reach those goals.

What is a Strategic Plan?

What is a tactical plan, what is the difference between strategy and tactics, examples of strategic and tactical planning, how to create a strategic plan, how to create a tactical plan, be both a strategic and tactical leader.

Few people doubt the importance of planning ahead before tackling any project. A  study  published in the Journal of Business Venturing found that planning impacts a business’s overall performance in a positive way. A business plan helps companies grow as well.  Research  has found that organizations that plan grow up to 30 percent faster. For this reason, businesses need to prepare in advance to remain competitive and successful. Recognizing where strategic and tactical business planning come into play makes a difference. In this article, find out the difference between strategy and tactics and how to create each type of plan.

Key Takeaways

  • Strategy and tactics are key aspects of business planning.
  • Strategic planning is the process of mapping out what a business wants to achieve in the long term.
  • A tactical plan describes how the business will achieve its strategic goals.

A strategic plan explains  what  organizations want to achieve by looking at the big picture to set goals. The strategy businesses adopt maps out the long-term plans they intend to follow. This can also apply to individuals seeking career advancement and professional development. Strategic planning for this purpose outlines the overall goals, identifying the destination you want to reach in the future.

A tactical plan describes  how  a business will accomplish its goals. Tactical plans focus on the steps, tasks, and specific actions needed to achieve goals set by the established strategic plan. In this way, the tactical business planning process emphasizes short-term measures that contribute to a larger business strategy. Whether used for corporate planning, team planning, or individual plans, this type of planning is necessary for following through on strategic objectives.

Strategic planning represents the long-term view of an organization. Strategic plans mainly deal with broad goals and objectives. Many strategic plans have time frames of months or even years. They also involve looking at what resources the company has available and what kind of people can tackle the project.

The tactical planning process, on the other hand, is far more specific than strategic planning. Much of the time, tactical planning looks at the day-to-day activities required for reaching broader objectives. A tactical plan should consist of milestones and deadlines that help companies know if they’re on track with their strategic plans. This type of planning also emphasizes execution, ensuring that things don’t just get done but done well.

With those differences in mind, let’s take a look at some examples that highlight how strategic and tactical planning work. A strategic plan might say something along the lines of “recruit highly skilled individuals to form a capable and talented team.” That’s a goal with some broad strokes, but a tactical plan will get into the specifics. In this instance, tactical or corporate planning would include steps such as conducting surveys of current employees to find out what they like and don’t like about their jobs. It may also include attending job fairs, creating effective exit interviews to figure out why some talented people leave the company or developing a training program to improve  leadership skills . All of these tactical steps will contribute to the strategic plan.

Here’s how strategic and tactical planning might appear, with the strategic plan listed on top and the tactical plans shown underneath:

  • Goal: Double sales by the end of next year.
  • Hire ten new salespeople before the end of the current quarter.
  • Create and send out client surveys to determine where the company can improve.
  • Adopt new CRM software to handle an increased workload.
  • Reach out to past clients to find out why they left and if they have an interest in returning.

That’s just a brief example of how strategic and tactical planning might look. Leaders can also write each part of the tactical plan in smaller steps if that’s what the company wants. The more details worked into the plan, the easier it will be to follow and measure progress.

1. Identify a Big Picture Goal

What ultimate destination do you want to end up at? That’s the question every business and individual must ask when making a strategic plan. Do you want your company to become the leader in their industry? Do you want to head up a new innovative company? The big picture goal should be lofty and aspirational, even if it’s not too specific.

2. Evaluate Your Current Position

Take the time to look closely at where the company is now. Try using SWOT analysis, which is a strategic planning tool that analyzes strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. For example, ask questions like:

  • How does the business compare to competitors?
  • What recent successes has it had?
  • Where has it failed in the past?

By evaluating your current position, you can get a good idea of how much distance the company must cover to reach its long-term goals. If the distance is short, then maybe the goal isn’t big enough.

3. Align Goal With Company Values

Whatever goal companies choose, they must make sure it aligns with their values. Every organization should have a  mission statement , so a goal that runs contrary to that mission statement should be thrown out. Take your values and convictions into account as you are strategic planning, as they can often inform you if the destination you’ve identified is actually where you want to end up.

4. Determine How to Monitor Progress

The goal set by the organization is likely many months or years into the future. Progress may appear slow at times. Because of this, determine early on how you should measure that progress. For example, with a marketing plan, what would you like to see six months from now? Where should sales be by the end of the quarter? By doing this, you’ll know if you need to course-correct before you’ve gone too far off the path.

1. Keep Strategic Goals in Mind

Strategic planning provides the destination and general outline of what the company wants to achieve. Create every piece of the tactical plan with that overall goal in mind. Operational planning like this gets into the nitty-gritty details, so it’s easy to become bogged down in unnecessary information. Note why each step of the tactical plan exists, and if it doesn’t make progress toward the goal, eliminate it.

2. Divide the Plan

When you know your ultimate destination and the approximate time frame needed to reach it, break up that goal into individual steps. Start with where you want to arrive at the end of each month, then each week, and then each day. These steps represent your progress and help teams keep track of where they are. Breaking up larger projects like this enables you to visualize how you’ll reach long-term goals.

3. Organize Teams

Once all the steps of the tactical plan have been established, note how many teams you need to achieve success. Then organize those teams to handle the different elements of the tactical plan. When engaging in corporate planning like this, you should have a good idea of what kind of expertise you have on staff. Based on the skills of the available personnel, you can determine where to place each person, so they have the best chance at success.

4. Determine Resource Allocation

At the same time, companies can also divide up the available resources, so each team has what they need to succeed. Everyone should know that these resources aren’t limitless, so make sure to explain why they get the amount you’ve allocated. This step can involve difficult choices, but with a firm tactical plan in mind, you’ll have a good idea of where your resources need to go.

5. Measure Progress

Determine how to measure progress for a tactical plan. Measuring progress for this plan will happen more frequently, such as at the end of each day or week. Determine how well you and each team did during the day and see if you need to make any changes to keep on schedule. If changes need to be made, make sure they address the problems you encounter most often.

Focusing too much on one side of strategy or tactics will lead to frustration and failure in operational planning. The best practices in a business involve both strategy and tactics. As you lead others, note the importance of having both strategic and tactical plans at the ready. Aim high with your strategies, and pinpoint the details with your tactics. The best leaders will use both to take their organizations to where they want to go. The result will be a company that experiences  business growth  and success.

Want to learn more about the power of leadership?  Read the following articles:

Transformational Leadership: Inspiring Positive Change

Innovative Leadership: Guide to Leading Through Change

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Example of Tactical Planning in Business

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Strategies in a Company

How do you announce a new product to the world, guide to pre production meetings for tv commercials.

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Tactical planning takes a company's strategic plan and sets forth specific short-term actions and plans, usually by company department or function. The tactical planning horizon is shorter than the strategic plan horizon. If the strategic plan is for five years, tactical plans might be for a period of one to three years, or even less, depending on what kind of market the business serves and the pace of change.

Characteristics of Tactical Plans

"Tactical Planning Vs. Strategic Planning," an article on the Management Innovations website, outlines several key differences between strategic and tactical planning. First, executives usually are responsible for strategic plans, as they have the best bird's-eye view of the corporation. Lower-level managers have a better understanding of the day-to-day operations, and they are usually the ones responsible for tactical planning.

Second, strategic planning is concerned with the future, and tactical planning with today. Third, since we know far more about today than we do about the future, tactical plans are more detailed than strategic plans.

Build Flexible Planning

Flexibility needs to be built into tactical plans to allow for unanticipated events. For example, if your company manufactures a product, you will need to build flexibility into your plan for machinery breakdowns and maintenance. You cannot assume you will be able to run your machinery at full tilt all the time.

Tactical Marketing Plan Example

Assume for a moment your company sells insurance products in a large metropolitan area. The tactical marketing plan for your insurance company must outline, step by step, each marketing component needed to meet the goals and vision of your company's strategic plan.

For example, if you decide one of the best ways to reach your target consumer is TV advertising, then the tactical plan needs to carefully spell out the specifics of the TV campaign. Steps in developing this plan include, but are not restricted to, deciding on an appropriate message; arranging for the production of the commercial; deciding what channels to air the commercial on and when; and following up with potential customers who respond to the campaign.

Communication Between Functional Areas

Handling customer inquiries resulting from your TV advertising may be the responsibility of your company's sales department. The tactical plan for the sales department needs to be developed in concert with the marketing department. The sales plan should address how the volume of calls will be handled, how many people this will require and how sales leads will be followed. The marketing department will need to provide the sales department with information about the TV campaign so sales can complete its own tactical plan.

Preparing to Change

The point of tactical planning is to reach the goals and objectives of the strategic plan. But markets and the business environment can change quickly. When this happens, it is time to reassess how tactics are performing against stated goals and to change tactics if necessary. Flexibility in the face of change is a necessary component of the ongoing tactical planning process.

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Lisa Nielsen is a marketing consultant for small businesses and start-ups. As part of her consultancy, she writes advertising copy, newsletters, speeches, website content and marketing collateral for small and medium-sized businesses. She has been writing for more than 20 years. She is also a business strategist, trainer and executive coach. Nielsen holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Miami.

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  • The Basics of Writing a Business Plan
  • The Benefits and Risks of Writing a Business Plan
  • The Main Objectives of a Business Plan
  • What to Include and Not Include in a Successful Business Plan
  • The Top 4 Types of Business Plans
  • A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing Your Business Plan Deck
  • 6 Tips for Making a Winning Business Presentation
  • 12 Ways to Set Your Business Goals and Objectives
  • 3 Key Things You Need to Know About Financing Your Business
  • How to Use Your Business Plan Most Effectively
  • How to Pitch Your Business Plan in 6 Minutes
  • How to Fund Your Business With Angel Investors
  • How to Assess the Potential of Your Business Idea
  • How to Fund Your Business Through Friends and Family Loans and Crowdsourcing
  • How to Fund Your Business Using Banks and Credit Unions
  • How to Fund Your Business With an SBA Loan
  • How to Fund Your Business With Bonds and Indirect Funding Sources
  • How to Use Your Business Plan to Track Performance
  • How to Make Your Business Plan Attractive to Prospective Partners
  • When to Update Your Business Plan
  • How to Fund Your Business With Venture Capital
  • How to Raise Money With Your Business Plan's Executive Summary
  • What Is Your Unique Selling Proposition? Use This Worksheet to Find Your Greatest Strength.
  • How to Write the Management Team Section to Your Business Plan
  • How to Create a Strategic Hiring Plan
  • How to Write a Business Plan Executive Summary That Sells Your Idea
  • How To Build a Team of Outside Experts for Your Business
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  • Customers and Investors Don't Want Products. They Want Solutions.
  • Who Is Your Customer? 4 Questions to Ask.
  • How to Determine the Barriers to Entry for Your Business
  • How to Define Your Product and Set Your Prices
  • How to Get Customers in Your Store and Drive Traffic to Your Website
  • 5 Essential Elements of Your Industry Trends Plan
  • How to Identify and Research Your Competition
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  • How to Effectively Promote Your Business to Customers and Investors
  • How to Write an Operations Plan for Retail and Sales Businesses
  • How to Write an Operations Plan for Manufacturers
  • How to List Personel and Materials in Your Business Plan
  • What Equipment and Facilities to Include in Your Business Plan
  • What Technology to Include In Your Business Plan
  • How to Write an Income Statement for Your Business Plan
  • How to Make a Balance Sheet
  • How to Make a Cash Flow Statement
  • How to Use Financial Ratios to Understand the Health of Your Business
  • How to Make Realistic Financial Forecasts
  • How to Write a Letter of Introduction
  • What To Put on the Cover Page of a Business Plan
  • How to Format Your Business Plan
  • 6 Steps to Getting Your Business Plan Seen
  • The Best Ways to Follow Up on a Buisiness Plan
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How to Effectively Promote Your Business to Customers and Investors There are many tactics to build awareness and buzz around your brand, and they are all critical components of success.

By Entrepreneur Staff • Oct 27, 2023

Key Takeaways

  • Promotion is everything you do to build awareness of your business, including: picking your company name, going to trade shows, buying advertisements, making telemarketing calls, using billboards, arranging co-op marketing, offering free giveaways, building and maintaining your online presence, and more.
  • Any serious business plan will have a promotional plan that considers what you'll do today and also what you'll do do the road to keep your products fresh in consumers' eyes.

This is part 8 / 8 of Write Your Business Plan: Section 4: Marketing Your Business Plan series.

We've discussed product, price and place as they pertain to the Four Ps of Marketing. Now let's talk about the final one: promotion.

Understanding Promotion

Promotion is virtually everything you do to bring your company and your product in front of consumers. Promotional activities include picking your company name, going to trade shows, buying advertisements, making telemarketing calls, using billboards, arranging co-op marketing, offering free giveaways, building and maintaining your online presence, and more. Not all promotions are suitable for all products, of course, so your plan should select the ones that will work best for you, explain why they were chosen, and tell how you're going to use them.

Promotion aims to inform, persuade, and remind customers to buy your products. It uses a mix that includes four elements: advertising, personal selling, sales promotion, and publicity or public relations.

Buzzword: Co-op Promotion

Co-op promotions are arrangements between two businesses to cross-promote their enterprises. When a soft drink can include a coupon good for a discount on the price of entry to an amusement park, that's a co-op. Countless variations exist.

Advertising Concerns

Advertising is a large part of marketing and promotion for most businesses. In 2022, businesses spent $153 billion on online advertising, or nearly 62 percent of the whole. Television is a distant second with 22.7 percent. Outdoor advertising was third with only 5.2 percent. Print media advertising in newspapers and magazines combined didn't even reach 6 percent. Because most businesses cannot afford television ads, except in local markets, the choices come down to (primarily) print and the Internet.

Though the web is the place to be, print still offers some perks. For example, newspapers, magazines, and other forms of print are tangible and stay in people's view somewhere in the house—even on the rare occasion when the computer is turned off. Brand recognition is still easy to spot on the page or on a sign or billboard. Consumers tend to look longer at a print ad and skim less frequently than when they are looking at ads online, and because there are fewer print ads than in the past, your ad can stand out more. Of course. before you can advertise, you need to figure out why you are advertising: What are your goals?

You may be advertising to raise your corporate profile, to improve a tarnished image, or simply to generate foot traffic. Whatever you're after, it's important to set specific goals in terms of such things as revenue increase, unit volume growth for new business, inquiries, and so forth. Without specific objectives, it's hard to tell what you can afford to do and whether the campaign is living up to expectations.

Also, keep in mind that promotional plans, such as giveaways and freebies—caps, pens, T-shirts, and so on—should also be part of your plan to market your business.

Other Kinds of Promotion

Sales promotion is kind of a grab bag of promotional activities that don't fit elsewhere. If you offer free hot dogs to the first 100 people who come to your store on Saturday morning, that's a sales promotion. This category also includes in-store displays, trade shows, off-site demonstrations, and just about anything else that could increase sales and isn't included in the other categories.

Publicity is the darling of small businesses because it lets them get major exposure at minimal cost. If you volunteer to write a gardening column for your local newspaper or a blog for a gardening website, it can generate significant public awareness of your plant nursery and position you as a leading expert in the field, all for the price of a few hours a week spent jotting down some thoughts on a subject you already know very well. To buy comparable exposure might cost thousands of dollars. Press releases announcing favorable news about your company are one tool of publicity; similar releases downplaying bad news, if necessary, are the flip side.

Public relations is a somewhat broader term that refers to the image you present to the public at large, government entities, shareholders, and employees. You may work at public relations through such tools as your website, company newsletters, e-newsletters, legislative lobbying efforts, your annual report, and the like.

Whatever you do, don't neglect public relations and publicity. There is no cheaper or more powerful tool for promotion.

Scarcity and Urgency Work

Another popular approach to marketing is to make products more valuable via scarcity and present a sense of urgency through limited-time offers. From highly touted sales to special sales for preferred customers, a sense of "act now" works in your marketing plans. People also see value in a limited edition or an item that is not always easy to get. Don't make up false scarcity or customers may see through it—but think about what you may run out of and let people know they should order while it's still available. The home shopping channels made a fortune by having a clock ticking away so that people would run to their phones to purchase an item before it disappeared (until tomorrow). Disney offers its classic films for sale through television commercials that ask you to buy now before the film goes back into the vault for years to come.

Have a Follow-Up Plan

Customers may ask, "What have you done for me lately?" Investors and others reading your business plan want to know, "What are you going to do for me tomorrow?" Any serious business plan has to take note of the fact that every product has a life cycle, that pricing pressures change over time, that promotions need to stay fresh, and that new distribution opportunities are opening up all the time. So, the portion of your plan where you describe how you'll continue your success is a vital one.

The annals of business are full of companies that turned out to be one-trick ponies that introduced a product or service that zoomed to stardom but failed to follow it up with another winner. In the best cases, these companies survive but fade back into obscurity. In the worst cases, they fail to negotiate the switch from booming sales to declining sales and disappear completely.

Diversifying into more than one product is another good way to reduce the risk. It's a good idea to divert part of any boost in revenues to studying market trends and developing new products.

Investors looking at a plan, especially those contemplating long-term involvement, are alert to the risk of backing a one-trick entrepreneur. Showing competitive barriers that you've erected and systems for developing new products is an important part of calming their fears.

There's one caveat when it comes to learning new tricks, however. Very simple concepts are the easiest to communicate, and extremely focused companies usually show the fastest growth—although not always over the long term. So you don't want to appear, in the process of reducing risk, that you've lost sight of the answers to the key questions: What are you selling? How are you selling it? And why would anybody want to buy from you?

Business Plan Competitions

If you happen to be a business student, you may be able to enter your business plan in a college business plan competition. These competitions, of which there are more than three dozen in the United States, confer a measure of fame and even some money on the winners. A panel of plan experts including college professors, venture capitalists, and bankers usually judge entries.

Winners are the plans that best lay out a convincing case for a business's success. Judges can be tough; contestants can expect scathing criticism of poorly thought-out plans.

Venture Labs Investment Competition is the name of the best-known of the nation's business plan competitions. It's sponsored by the University of Texas at Austin. Venture Labs Investment Competition calls itself the "Super Bowl of world business-plan competition" and is the oldest of the approximately three dozen business school-sponsored plan competitions. More than two dozen plan-writing teams from as far away as Australia participate in the contest, which began in 1983.

Another major competition is the Rice Business Plan Competition . This very prestigious three-day competition is the largest and richest graduate-level student startup competition with more than $1 million in cash and prizes.

You'll also find competitions that are not sponsored by universities or business schools such as New York Start Up , an annual competition for New Yorkers starting for-profit businesses that offers cash prizes totaling up to $15,000. Sponsored by the New York Public Library and Wells Fargo, the competition began in 2010.

There are numerous state competitions such as the Rhode Island Business Competition . Started in 2000 by Garrett Hunter, then president of the Business Development Company of Rhode Island, the annual competition is designed for new businesses as well as those in the early development stages. Prizes of cash and in-kind services with a total value of at least $150,000 are awarded to a winner and two finalists.

Elevator Pitch

Sometimes there is simply not enough time for someone to read your business plan or even hear a full presentation. Therefore, you need an elevator pitch. It is the ultra-short version of your plan featuring only the most significant of significant information, all presented in the time it takes for an elevator ride. Of course, the elevator pitch cannot replace the well-thought-out, detailed business plan, but it can drum up interest in reading one. Have such a pitch written, rehearsed, and ready to go. And, keep in mind, it can be harder to write the twenty- to thirty-second elevator pitch than the entire business plan. Each and every word carries more weight because (like on Twitter) you are very limited.

If you want to see winning elevator pitches by other business owners, check out the Entrepreneur Elevator Pitch show . Watching these videos will give you the tips you need to craft your own elevator pitch that will win you the deal, and if you are feeling fired up, apply to be on and get your brand exposure to millions of viewers.

Find Additional Resources

You can get mounds of economic and demographic marketing information—much of it free—from the U.S. Census Bureau. To learn more, contact the following office: Economic and Demographic Statistics, Bureau of the Census, U.S. Department of Commerce, Data User Service Division, Customer Service, Washington, DC 20233, www.census.gov , or call (301) 763-4100.

More in Write Your Business Plan

Section 1: the foundation of a business plan, section 2: putting your business plan to work, section 3: selling your product and team, section 4: marketing your business plan, section 5: organizing operations and finances, section 6: getting your business plan to investors.

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