Hopefully the headline caused you to pause a moment. Please give this some thought. Tactics without strategy do not work.

First, let’s look at the difference between tactics and strategy.

Tactics are the pieces. Tactics are steps. Strategy is a plan.

Your strategy may be to sell gold-plated widgets to families in the $1 million and up annual income group. You will offer the best widget ever made and it will be beautifully gold-plated. The selling price will be fixed at $20,000 each. There will be no discounts available.

Your tactics might be: advertise in “Yacht World” magazine, put up a very high end website with a number to call to order—NO SHOPPING CART, give a sample to a celebrity in exchange for an endorsement.

The strategy drives the tactics.

When businesses come up with tactics without deep consideration of strategy, the tactics fail. They fail because the tactics are designed to get an immediate result. Tactics like “advertise in the paper” and “List on Craig’s List” or “Let’s buy a TV ad!” fail because they are not specific to the strategy. The strategy is the entire marketing plan of the business. No, that’s no just the idea for the business. It is the specifics of that plan. The marketing plan will change as the business learns the market.

It is an error in thinking to use failed tactics as learning lessons to adjust strategy.

When tactics derived from strategy fail, then adjust strategy. In the example above, if the Craig’s List ad failed, most businesses would then cut price. That is changing strategy because of a failed tactic. But the tactic was wrong and now the strategy is chasing bad tactics.

I hope you will stop and think STRATEGY before we get too deep into 2014. If you do, the year could be your best ever. If you continue to just try tactics, you’ll have a very rough year.

Chris Reich, TeachU