“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory, and tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”
– Sun Tsu
Strategy needs tactics for execution. In practical terms, this is your marketing plan, your product or service plan, and other tactical plans. Aim for strategic alignment: match your tactics to your strategy. You should be able to think of your business as a pyramid, with strategy at the top, execution tactics in the middle, and concrete specifics at the base, as in the illustration here.
Although a book is sequential, your thinking and planning isn’t. This chapter is about the middle area of the pyramid, the tactics, mainly marketing and product or service plans. The previous chapter was about the strategy at the top, and the next chapter is about the bottom on the pyramid, the concrete specifics. Don’t think of these as separate or sequential. Develop them together. They are sequential here because of format and logistics only.
These tactical plans in your lean plan are as simple as possible, ideally just bullet point references. Don’t worry about writing descriptions and explanations, or compiling background information, until you have a real business need to explain them to outsiders. Do worry about thinking all of your marketing and product plans through and planning them well. Even without the big text, you do want to plan and manage your important tactics.
If you’re not absolutely sure about execution, do your best and remember you’re going to review and revise every month from now on.
Marketing, in its essence, is getting your customers to know, like, and trust you. To do that, you must understand your customers: know how and where to find them, how to help them find you, and how to present your business to best match your strategy and business offering. You have to make choices for pricing, messaging, distribution channels, social media, sales activities, and so forth. For your lean plan, these are mainly bullet points. They are defining the tactical decisions that you make. In the lean plan they are for internal use only.
I do recommend, however, that every business leader take a fresh look at the market at least once a year. Markets change, new markets develop, and you don’t want to get lost thinking that what was true in the past is still true and will be true in the future.
Product Execution (or service, or both)
These are about the business offering. Product or service tactics are the decisions you make about pricing, packaging, service specifications, new products or services, product launches, sourcing, manufacturing, software development, technology procurement, trade secrets, bundling, and so forth. Your lean plan contains the decisions you make on these items as bullet points. You know your tactics by heart, so you just list them, briefly, in your lean business plan.
Not sure? Do your best. Only you can decide whether you need to do more testing, research, or prototyping, or launch and develop improvements as you go. That’s up to every business owner. There is no certainty ever, so do your best. And remember, you’re going to track results, review your metrics, and revise every month. Nothing is written in stone.
Tactics often include financial tactics, or team building, hiring, recruitment tactics, or logistic tactics related to, say, taking on new office or manufacturing space. I group these in the third part of the pyramid shown in the illustration above.
This chapter also includes: