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Strategy Before Tactics

I recently met with a partner at a law firm who asked me to assist him in placing an article he had written.  He said a few of his partners had recently published articles in various publications and he thought he should be doing the same.

I asked, “what do you want to accomplish by writing and placing the article?” After a short conversation, he defined the results he wanted to achieve–he wanted to increase his visibility among targeted referral sources.

Once we clarified his objective, we formulated a strategy for increasing his visibility among targeted referral sources. We developed three tactics for achieving this goal. One of the tactics included writing and placing articles in targeted publications.

Strategy defines the results we want to achieve and tactics are the actions taken to achieve the strategy. Tactics can  include, launching a blog, attending networking events, creating a brochure, advertising, revising a web site, social media ( twitter, Linkedin, you tube, etc.) etc. See Kevin Okeefe’s post Law firms mistakenly focus on social media tactics over strategy.

Clearly there is a difference between a strategy and a tactic and the key to achieving optimal results is to start with strategy before tactics. We all understand this basic concept yet, the majority of people will start with tactics before strategy. Why is this?

In this mornings post, When tactics drown out strategy Seth Godin lends great insight into answering this question.

Most of us are afraid of strategy, because we don’t feel confident outlining one unless we’re sure it’s going to work. And the ‘work’ part is all tactical, so we focus on that. (Tactics are easy to outline, because we say, “I’m going to post this.” If we post it, we succeed. Strategy is scary to outline, because we describe results, not actions, and that means opportunity for failure.)

Lawyers and collaborative law practitioners are great at executing tactics. You know how to get things done. By starting first with strategy, you will achieve your desired results.

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