Attending the Search Engine Strategies conference in San Jose has got me thinking about the difference between strategies and tactics.
The knock on SES for some time has been that the content is too tactical in nature. However, as Dave Gould, big cheese at Resolution Media put it, one man's strategy is another man's tactics.
I'll elaborate on that a bit but, before I do, I'd like to give props to Kevin Ryan who has done a good job morphing SES to live up to its name. Day 1 of the conference yesterday was programmed almost exclusively with topics and speakers (including yours truly) that activated high-level strategic thinking.
As I've stated in the past, too often these shows are filled with self-promoting speakers who either spend too much time talking about themselves or diving so deep into niche program tactics that they're wholly irrelevant to the audience.
But again, strategies and tactics are relative terms. Let's look at it through the lens of a typical corporate marketing organization...
To the CEO, a goal might be to increase revenue. Therefore, the strategy he/she might deploy to achieve that goal is to launch a marketing campaign. And the tactics he/she might activate are PR, web development, and advertising.
In turn, to the CMO, the goal is to drive revenue and the channel available to him/her is marketing. The strategy he/she might deploy is to launch an advertising campaign. Accordingly, the tactics he/she might activate are TV, print, and online ads.
Continuing down the line, to the VP, Advertising, the goal is to drive revenue and the channel available to him/her is advertising. The strategy he/she might deploy is to launch an online ad campaign. The tactics he/she might activate are display, email, and paid search media buys.
Now, to the Director of Online Media, the goal is to drive revenue and the channel available to him/her is online media. The strategy he/she might deploy is to launch a paid search campaign. The tactics he/she might activate are geo-targeting, promotional creative, and automated bid rules.
Finally, to the Search Marketing Manager, the goal is to drive revenue and the channel available to him/her is paid search. The strategy he/she might deploy is to do geo-targeting. The tactics he/she might activate are geo-modified keyword selection, IP-based DMA targeting, and regional promotion copy and landing pages.
It's truly a game of telephone -- what started as a high-level strategy got interpreted down the line as nuts-and-bolts tactics. But isn't that the point? How else would this company meet its goal of driving revenue if each stakeholder didn't consider strategies and tactics on a relative basis?
So the next time you attend a conference or sit in a meeting that you think is too tactical, I urge you to consider the frame of reference of the person doing the tacticizing and find the strategery in it.
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