Strategy Trumps Tactics Every Time

If you want to take your business from 0 to $100 million or a billion, strategy will get you there. Most of what you read out there is tactics. A website is a tactic, blogging is a tactic, social media is a tactic, email marketing is a tactic. The difference between strategies and tactics is the difference between working smarter rather than harder. As a busy entrepreneur, working smarter is what you need to focus on.

So today, let’s talk about the 3 steps that will help you begin developing a strategy that will give you the edge against any competition you have now or in the future, and positions your company for maximum growth.

Step 1: Define Your Ideal Client

No more talk of ideal customers – let’s talk about ideal clients. What’s the difference? A customer is defined as: “the recipient of a good, service, product, or idea, obtained from a seller, vendor, or supplier for a monetary or other valuable consideration” (Wikipedia). On the other hand, a client is defined as: “being a regular customer” ( In short, a client relationship implies a much longer-term commitment. If you’re committing for the long-term the strategy you employ is going to be a lot different than for a single transaction.

If you’re going to be working with people it’s suggested to work with the types of people you really like working with. Will you run into bad clients? It’s inevitable. However if you define the criteria describing your ideal clients – the ones you really want and prefer to work with – you’ll have an instant filter to apply to everyone that comes knocking on your door.

To create the description of this person we need to go way past demographics. Demographics are a great place to start though, so write those down first. Here’s a short list you can use from one of my favorite sites – Quantcast:

  • Male / Female
  • Age
  • Income level
  • Education level
  • Ethnicity (if you’re selling into a certain ethnic group)

From here we get much deeper. Take a moment to relax and think of what this ideal client looks like. What do they do when they wake up in the morning? Are they in a house or a condo? When they get out of bed do they go directly to the computer to check email or are they heading for a coffee maker they programmed the night before? After they take their morning shower (unless they take showers at night) what type of clothes do they put on?

How does this person get to work? Do they work in a large company or do they take the long journey down the hall to their home office? How do they plan their day? What type of work does this person do?

I think you get the point, which is to define in as much detail as your imagination can create. Once you have that written down go online and find a picture of how you imagine this person might look. Give them a name.

Another term for this description is a “buyer persona”. The difference here is that this person isn’t merely a “buyer” they are your client, the type of client you most want to work with.

This exercise is extremely important. Everything, and I mean everything that you do in your business is for this person. Take the time to do it right.

With ideal client definition in hand it’s time to kick that imagination back into gear for step 2.

Step 2: Write Your Stadium Pitch

This is a great technique I learned from NY Times Best Selling Author Chet Holmes, author of The Ultimate Sales Machine. Imagine that I’ve gathered 50,000 of your ideal customers in a stadium and you’ve got to go on stage in the next 2 minutes. Now imagine that I’ve told them they had to be there, however they don’t have to stay. If they don’t like your message they should feel free to get up and walk out.

What are you going to say?

Your job is to not only get their attention, but to get them interested enough to listen to the rest of what you have to say.

Here’s a hint about what you shouldn’t say –  you shouldn’t talk about your company, your products, or your services. What does that leave you with? Information purely of value to them.

Take a few minutes now to write a few ideas.

Step 3: Clearly Define Your #1 Strategic Objective

With ideal client definition in hand and an attention demanding stadium pitch on the tip of your tongue, it’s time to get real clear about what exactly you want to accomplish with your business.

What is your #1 strategic objective?

There are two parts to that:

  1. Strategy – a plan, method or maneuver
  2. Objective – purpose; goal; target

One question you can ask yourself to help answer this question is what you want to accomplish for your clients. Let’s see a few examples:

  • Zappos – To provide the best customer service possible
  • GE – GE works on things that matter
  • 37signals – Making collaboration productive and enjoyable for people every day
  • Google – Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful
  • Twitter – The fastest, simplest way to stay close to everything you care about
  • Literature & Latte (makers of Scrivener): Creating software that aids in the creative process of writing long texts

Not that none of those specify how they intend to accomplish their objective. Even with the last example Literature & Latte, although they say software, they don’t say what type of software, how it will work, or if it’s web-based or desktop based.

That’s what you want your #1 strategic objective to look like – high level with no detail. Go broad.

That’s Your Foundation

We’ve covered the very basis of your business – who you want to work with, how you can attract their attention, and what you intend to help them with. From here you can begin to delve into the tactics that will help you make your vision a reality for your clients.


  1. I agree 100%. Strategy definitely trumps tactics. It’s interesting to see how some social media “experts” put down “strategies” for their clients – a list of social media platforms.

  2. Thanks again for focusing on IMPORTANT concepts. I have shared this article with many

  3. Just like principles trumps techniques every time as techniques are specific but principle can be applied everywhere and every time to everything, otherwise they are not principles. What’s difficult is crafting principles and strategies to work that way. 🙂
    Very interesting article.

    •  @Andrea T. H. W. that’s exactly why we need to learn techniques and tactics as that’s what principles and strategies are composed of. That and larger strategic objectives that span some longer amount of time.

  4. Chet Holmes is a beast when it comes to focusing on taking the 20% of the actions that bring you 80% of your results under the umbrella of an specific and measurable outcome.
    Thank you for reminding Robert to dust off my Jay Abraham, Mac Ross, and Chet Holmes 68 CD “Strategy Super Setting Summit”. It’s been waaay too long since I’ve since I’ve spent time with this oldie but goodie. This is one of those courses where the majority of the information will be timeless because it’s based on strategy – not tactics.
    Maybe I’ll even stop being lazy and actually take notes this time. Hahaha 🙂

    •  @Lewis LaLanne aka Nerd #2 yeah hop on that! I’m going through the Ultimate Business Mastery Summit and it too is timeless as it’s strategy and business, the fundamentals of which don’t change, or at least haven’t, seeing as we’re all still human.
      As both Tony and Chet say – doing 12 things 4000 times is how you master it.

      •  @RobertDempsey Tony’s role in that seminar is priceless. He hammers home what business people need to hear but don’t want to hear about getting your  mindset right. I love he brings crystal clear awareness to the fact that you can have the greatest strategy and tactics at your fingertips but if your beliefs and values are screwed u,p you’ll find a way to sabotage your magnificently laid out plans. That seminar is positively incredible – must consuming for anyone wanting to be in business for the long haul. I’m glad to hear you’re going through it!

  5. Absolutely solid advice, mate! The amount of times I’ve read a strategy post or campaign plan and it’s clearly been tactics? Well, let’s say I’m glad I don’t down a drink with each example… 😉
    It’s so important to differentiate the two – thanks for clearing any mud people might see, sir. 

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