This is not a trick question nor is it a matter of semantics. In the world of marketing there are clear distinctions between these three concepts. This can be clearly seen by referring to the basic definition of these words.
Goal: The end toward which an effort is directed. A measurable result achieved within a fixed time frame.
Strategy: A clear set of plans outlining how a goal will be achieved.
Tactic: An action carried out as part of a strategy in the pursuit of an overall goal.
In business a simple goal might be to increase sales opportunities. The strategy would be to expand market penetration by focusing on untapped demographic groups. The tactics to be employed might include social media, print, radio advertising, special offers, website updates, a special app that potential customers can download and sponsorship of events that cater to the selected target groups.
Remember: a strategy is driven by the goal you want to accomplish. In a previous column the focus was on the importance of setting clear goals using the SMART method which bears repeating. Your goals should be Specific, Measurable, Action oriented, Realistic and Time-sensitive. If your goal does not meet these criteria then you need to rethink your goal.
The next challenge is not to get hung up on which tactics to use. If you know who you want to reach and understand their characteristics, for example where they like to go, what they like to do and where they live, then you will be able to choose the right media and communications tools.
As a business you will have a number of goals that you want to achieve. It is important to have strategies and utilize tactics to reach your objective but there is one more thing you have to remember and that is to ensure that whatever strategies and tactics you use should reflect who you are as a business and fit within an overall marketing and communications plan and not be a “one-off” effort.
Joe Smith is a communications consultant and an accomplished fine artist. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org