Strategy versus tactics, know the difference
Most confuse the two and in reality I doubt there is any formal definition for marketing. In military circles the definition is clear: strategy concerns the planning and directing of military movements, where tactics concerns the positioning and maneuvering of them into battle. I believe that this definition works well for business with some modification. In business: strategy concerns the planning and directing of entry into a market, where tactics concerns positioning and maneuvering within the market itself. Strategy usually focuses on questions like which market to enter and what specs the product should have. Tactics typically drill down to questions like how will the product be made and delivered, as well as where it should be positioned. So, in the case of Sharp, its strategy was to enter the SOC market using tactics of a stacked-chip packaging approach as a way to maneuver faster. A classic example from the equipment market is Advantest’s entry into the world market in the early eighties. Its strategy was to enter the high-speed logic market. So was everyone else’s. Its tactic was to enter with uncompromising quality. Something no one else did and it won the market. Later in the decade, Trillium/LTX entered the same market with a new tactic: build testers from CMOS, which had all the advantages of low power consumption, did not need liquid cooling, was easier to integrate, etc. Tokyo Electron’s strategy is to build bullet-proof equipment. Their tactics are to focus on partnering with results measured by high customer satisfaction. Napoleon once said something along the lines that while strategy is important, most plans must be set aside in the first moments of battle. After that, strategy becomes fluid and success depends mostly on tactics. If you look at most emerging technology markets, you will find that most market entrants have a good strategy. What usually makes the difference between winners and losers is the tactical acuity of the leaders engaged. Look at Netscape in the Internet market. Great strategy, but no tactics. Their strategy defined the entire market. Microsoft entered later with little strategy, but great tactics - - look who won. Like Microsoft, Applied Materials has historically won in markets because of its superb tactical acuity. Those that have markets lost to them, have never lost strategically. They have lost because of their failure to respond tactically.
By G Dan Hutcheson
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