When there are too many choices and you have no idea what to do, you are probably chasing tactics. When your friends are telling you different things and you are getting even more confused, you are probably chasing tactics. When you feel like you are overwhelmed and want to get a Google answer, you are probably chasing tactics.
Sometimes people do this when they need to know more about confusing health situations, business decisions, or are just overwhelmed with the amount of information available for decisions they need to make.
How are we to make the best decisions when there is so much information coming in from so many directions? Medical opinions can vary depending on what doctor you visit. Eating recommendations keep changing from a pyramid to a plate, and business options are so plentiful that we have no idea where to even begin. With so many myths, fake news and misinterpretations out there, how can we know what to believe?
So many points of view can lead you down a rabbit hole if you don’t know where each opinion fits into your understanding. Also, you may be asking the wrong people, or maybe even just asking the wrong questions. Well-meaning people may have good advice with the right intentions but the advice can still not be good for you. Advice is not one-size fits all.
Nothing good starts without a plan.
You can’t build a house without blueprints. You can’t shoot a movie without a script. You can’t run a race without a course and guidelines. A musician can’t play a song without a specific creative vision. A surgeon can’t make a cut without visualizing and defining the steps and possible complications. So why do you think you can run a business without a strategic plan?
You can move along with bits of pieces, and sometimes they even work, but they won’t move you along your path. You might get lucky, maybe even more than once. But you cannot generate consistent long term success without a system that stems from your overarching strategic plan.
Modeling what you see other people doing will probably not work for you since their success was tailored specific to their needs, not yours. Plus, it makes you a follower instead of watching trends and finding your best way.
Scientists start with a hypothesis, not data. Successful business people start with a marketing plan, not just a good idea.
Why do so many people skip right to tactics?
Skipping right to tactics is easy, seems like you are doing something and feels like you are taking action. You heard about it, read about it, and Mary or Joe said it worked for them so why not try it?
Taking the advice of successful people, it’s best to ask the right questions of the right people before thinking anything specific about your situation. Situations that are complex or confusing, though, require more than this.
Marketers define 3 levels of decision-making, and it’s probably a good way to also think in these terms about things other than business. It also doesn’t need to be anything formal other than a clear thought process, but let’s use this as an example. First, you start with strategy, then you make an outline plan, and only then do you tactical some related and appropriate tactics.
Strategy is your overall vision, mission statement, outcome, or goal.
The plan is how to get to your desired outcome. This includes what you want to do and what you are not willing to do. The plan must include decisions about how you can do this on your own or if you will need help from others. Will you be able to do it alone, or will you need partners or help? How much money, or resources, will you need to reach your desired outcome?
Tactics are the activities that you do that are based on your strategic plan. Tactics will change, and are fluid over time. It is important to know that tactics will need to be adjusted based on the results you get. You choose tactics to get your plan started, and different tactics as it is moving on. In order to be successful, we must evaluate our results, adjust our tactics, implement the adjusted tactics, evaluate again, and continue to make changes constantly.
Tactics do not operate in a silo. You can’t isolate one marketing tactic without considering everything your company is working on. It all goes together. One common mistake businesses make is hiring a social media person to post a few things about your company without a communication strategy, a digital marketing plan, and specific goals in place to measure. Before investing in stray activities, ask yourself if the tactic fits into your strategic plan.
Sadly, many companies are handing over their branding and communications to interns without creating a strategic plan. Once they are hired, many managers don’t even know what to ask them to do. How can this bode for any success? It’s not social media that’s failing the company, it’s the lack of a solid strategic plan with key performance measures in place.
You can’t execute until you know what you are trying to accomplish.
“A goal without a plan is just a wish” – Les Brown
If you chase tactics, then you aren’t building from the things you learned from the last tactic.
Are you convinced yet? So how does this work for you?
What is your main objective? What do you want to see in 3-5 years?
How will you get to your objective? Set guidelines and goals. Set estimated budgets for money and time. Decide on timeframes and how you will wait to see the first results.
Decide on the priority activities and then how you will follow up if things go well and what you will change if they don’t go as expected.