Many small business owners understandably work at a very operational level, and with that, they perceive they will get the most value from the tactical, practical, “just give me the steps on how to do it, and I’ll do it” type of advice. This tactical stuff is important, of course, otherwise nothing would ever get done and they wouldn’t have a business to run. But there’s a little more to it than that.

Lately, we’ve been talking a lot about your business’ core purpose, and reaching for the vitamins instead of the quick-fix aspirins. And so, I’m sure you’ve noticed that we’re big supporters of understanding the strategic side of your business. Now hold your horses – we aren’t advocating a move away from tactics; that would be ridiculous as that is where you make things happen. No, we’re simply saying that before you jump into the tactics, be sure you know where you want those tactics to take you. This concept has been around for a while:

Alice: “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

Cheshire Cat: “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”

Alice: “I don’t much care where –“

Cheshire Cat: “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”

Since I lead Tactical Marketing here at Kingsford, I’ll use marketing as an example. Strategic and tactical marketing are quite different; though each one is necessary for the other to have any sort of meaning. Sometimes, people lose sight of this. If you asked a member of the general public “what is marketing?”, you may get answers about graphics, websites, social media or flyers. Generally, the public associates modern “marketing” with activities such as advertising, tweeting on Twitter, and even blogging [I’m guilty!]. However, what is less apparent is all the work that has gone into determining what message and in what format will best appeal to whom. So, none of the tactical stuff will work (or at least it will reach a significantly smaller amount of potential customers) if you don’t know what you’re trying to say in the first place. You’ll sound scrambled and confused, and it could have a seriously negative effect on your audience. Marketing is very much about understanding who you want to buy what, how and when they decide to buy, where they are and who you are competing against. When you have that sorted, you can employ the right action so all your tactical marketing (and $$$) will be FAR more effective.

The best way to start is by determining where you stand in your market. One of the first things we do with clients when they come to us for marketing advice is to help them develop their Position Statement; this helps them know what role their business plays in the market. And keeping in mind where they want it to be 5, 10, 20, 100 years down the road shines a lot of light onto the best way to sustainably communicate their value proposition to their customers.

Throughout the positioning process, clients also gain insight into where their customers are, or more specifically how they can be reached: Are they on Twitter? Is Facebook more their style? Do they even own a computer? They might spend all their free time at music festivals or bars or the gym; how do you connect with them?

Before jumping in and bombarding your potential customers with messages that will leave them dazed and confused, know your value, and know your direction. Plan it out, then dive in and get there.

Need help building that tactical plan? Give us a call!