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Entrepreneurs — Do You Need Strategies or Tactics?

Written by: Jennifer Jank, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


The difference between tactics and strategy came up in my mentor group the other day. It’s important in many of the different aspects of running your own business to ensure you’re not spinning your wheels. Or chasing one shiny object after another.

Strategy is the overarching framework for any given process or aspect of business, from beginning to end. The tactics that you implement are how you carry out your strategy. The two may be easily confused. The easiest way (IMHO) to think about them is that strategy is the why and what, and tactics are the how, when, and where.

“The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.” — Michael Porter


This may be the easiest place to distinguish between strategy and tactics. If you don’t have a framework for what you’re doing, you’re likely to bounce from idea to idea without getting any traction or consistency.

But when it comes to marketing, surprisingly, strategy is not the first item to develop. Because before you do anything else, you have to identify your target market. Know what their problems are, how your solution helps them, where you can find them, and who they know.

"Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." — Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

When you know exactly who you’re talking to, you know the exact unhappiness they’re facing and how they feel when they get the awesome solution you provide. Only then can you develop a strategy to get them to know, like, and trust you. That’s the first step to get them to buy from you. You’ll also need a plan to turn your buyers into raving fans who provide referrals.

Choosing which social media platform(s) you’re going to use to get in front of your ideal client is not a strategy. It’s a tactic. What are you going to do on that platform, and why? What is the point of what you’re doing? How will it attract your ideal client? What do you want them to do when they see your social media content?

Having said all that, my hot take is that not everyone needs to niche down, depending on the service that you’re offering. I have several financial advisor friends who are doing just fine with no niche or specific audience!

Many financial advisors, especially those who are not new to the career, don’t need to target an audience. They’re already getting referrals from current and existing clients. Or they’re in a location where they’re the only expert. And because they do tend to work with affluent investors, they’re essentially working with Tolstoy’s happy families.

Financial planning and wealth management aren’t commodities, exactly. But for clients with $1 million or more in investable assets, the problems are usually pretty straightforward. Ensure the assets are growing, so there’s a nest egg for retirement, manage exposure to taxes (also pretty straightforward for less than $10 million or so), help the clients handle their emotions about money.

Even though marketing 101 is all about finding a specific audience, when dealing with “happy families,” you don’t really have to worry about it. That doesn’t mean that the actual people are happy, just that their problems are pretty similar to others in the same demographic.

Either way, once you know who you’re targeting, then you can design your marketing strategy. You need to get in front of your ideal clients, convert them from prospects to clients, and maintain relationships.

Posting in a LinkedIn (or FaceBook) group is a tactic for getting in front of your audience. It’s not a strategy because what happens when you get in front of them? What do you want them to do? Share your post, make an appointment with you for a free consultation, join you on a webinar?

Posting content may get you in front of potential clients and help them get to know, like, and trust you. But it probably won’t convert them to buyers. You also need a plan to take them from being admirers of your outstanding content to being buyers and/or referring others to you.

I’ll be honest with you. For a while, especially early on, I was definitely guilty of having a tactic and not a strategy with content posting. I’m still happy to provide information that hopefully others find useful, but I now get that it’s not a marketing strategy.


Let’s take a look at what strategy vs. tactics looks like for productivity. I use a lot of this information in my productivity training for teams. Strategy before tactics!

What is productivity, really? Have you heard about how hard it is to be a delivery driver for Amazon or any other company? They go to the bathroom in bottles in their trucks because they don’t have time to take five minutes for a break. Also, they’re being tracked through GPS and other technologies. Any unexplained pause can get them in trouble.

That’s not productivity. That’s wage slavery and cruelty. When you think about getting more work done, we’re not talking about pounding away at the keyboard (or steering wheel) and only pausing long enough to relieve yourself in a bottle. Yikes!

Productivity also doesn’t mean regularly squeezing so much labor out of an employee that they have no energy, feelings, or thoughts left when they leave for the day. Sometimes it feels good to have worked so hard you have absolutely nothing left, but that’s not optimal daily.

As a business owner, unless you’re paying your staff for 24 hours each day, you should expect them to have still some gas left at the end of the day to do other things. Incidentally, that goes for you too! Especially in the early years, when you're building your business, you might not have a lot of time left for other things, but you do need to recharge periodically.

Ideally, getting more done results in fewer hours to work during the day, which gives you more time to recharge. Rest is necessary if you want to boost your productivity in the long run.

Working smarter means getting the important, critical things done instead of messing around with the little stuff that doesn’t get you closer to your goal. For business owners, It’s giving yourself time to work on your business instead of in it. Spend your valuable energy making high-level decisions. Not the admin stuff that you could delegate out to an employee.

What’s your plan to make that happen? If you know that you need to work for an hour every Monday morning with no distractions to complete a weekly activity, how will you avoid distractions? How will you recharge, and what do you do if something interrupts your recharging?

The only way to be productive is to plan for it.

Exercising for some amount of time in the morning is a tactic. Embedding the exercise into your morning routine is also a tactic. (Good tactics, by the way.) But exercise alone won’t get you to where you want to go, so make sure you have all the pieces in your strategy.

Productivity tactics might include arranging your day so that you guarantee a certain number of hours spent on building relationships or reaching out to new prospects. You are not trying to find the exact shade of violet that you want for the background on your LinkedIn profile.

Put the phone down, stop notifications, close your office door, set your phone to do-not-disturb, whatever. Setting the alarm in an hour so that you can look away from your computer regularly. These short breaks help you reduce eyestrain, stretch, move, and recharge before you get back to it.

For employees, working smarter might involve batching tasks together. Or putting down your cell phone so you can finish the presentation your boss needs for tomorrow's meeting faster. Maybe it’s asking your boss to help you determine your priorities.

Want to make your team more efficient so you can spend time growing and scaling your business? Click here for a free consultation call.

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Jennifer Jank, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Jennifer “JJ” Jank works with those who want to be more productive and spend more time on the life side of the work-life balance. She trains high-growth teams so they can deploy high-performance strategies to work smarter.

JJ holds a BA in Physics from Rutgers University and an MBA in Finance from New York University. She is a Certified Financial Planner ™ professional. Currently she’s the President for Women Leaders Forum in Coachella Valley, as well as the webmistress and Fundraising Chair for the Palm Springs chapter of AAUW. She is also a speaker on various topics including productivity, personal finance, and entrepreneurship.

JJ has been published in Journal for Divorce Financial Analysts and Coachella Valley Weekly, among others. Her current books, From Zero to $avvy: A Quick Guide to Investing, Get What You De$erve: The Ultimate Guide to Divorce Finance, and Make the Leap From Employee to Entrepreneur: Your Easy and Effective Handbook to Unlock the Secrets of $avvy Business Owners are all currently available on Amazon.

She can be found at the Productivity Injection website and LinkedIn at @JenniferJank.



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