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strategy vs tactics

Strategy VS Tactics: Answer These Questions To Grow Your Consulting Business

By Michael Zipursky
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Do you ever feel like you’re running around in circles in your consulting business?

Like everything you’re doing doesn’t really connect — and you aren’t making the progress you want towards your goal?

It can feel like you’re turning around like the Tasmanian Devil (remember those cartoons back in the day?)

Believe it or not, many consultants run their business this way.

They’re chasing the next shiny object, latest marketing tool without wondering how it fits into their long-term goals.

And that’s if they have a specific long-term goal in the first place.

Your long term goals and strategy come first.

Your tactics — which include tools, channels, technology, etc — come second.

Watch the brief video below to learn why — and the difference between strategy and tactics:

By the end of this post, you’ll understand the critical difference between strategy and tactics — and determine your own strategy (and tactics) so you can get clear on your next steps to grow your consulting business.

Strategy VS Tactics: How To Determine Your Strategy

First, let’s define strategy.

Strategy: a plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim.

Your business strategy is your overall plan to achieve your goals.

Example: Leslie is a management consultant who specializes in serving manufacturing companies. The overall aim of her pricing strategy is to implement ROI-based fees which will help her raise her prices.

In consulting, you’ll need a few different strategies for different goals that you have.

For example…

  • Do you have a strategy for your marketing?
  • Do you have a strategy for building your consulting practice?
  • Do you have a strategy for raising your prices?

These strategies cover different areas of your consulting business.

The way to determine your strategy is to ask yourself the right questions.

By answering questions like…

  • Where do you actually want to go with your business?
  • How are you going to differentiate your business?
  • Who are your ideal clients?
  • What’s the best way to reach them?
  • What is the message that you’re going to use to get their attention and their interest?
  • How are you going to package and position your services in a way that will resonate with your ideal clients?

…by answering these questions, you’ll learn if you have a strategy — and how clear and intentional that strategy is.

If you don’t have answers to these questions, you can’t choose the right actions to take — your tactics.

How To Choose The Right Tactics

Now, let’s define tactic.

Tactic: an action carefully planned to achieve a specific end. – Oxford Dictionary

Tactics are the concrete, detailed steps you take to reach that end.

In our example, remember that Leslie is a management consultant who serves manufacturing companies.

Her goal is to double her income without working more hours — and her pricing strategy to achieve that goal will be to employ ROI and value-pricing.

Now that she knows her overall goal, she can think of tactics to implement and achieve this goal.

  • What specific questions should she ask her clients? The question becomes: which questions help identify the ROI she can create for her clients?
  • How should she structure her proposals? The question becomes: what is the tangible value her clients care about, and how can she make that prominent in her proposals to justify an ROI-based fee?
  • What should she put on her website? The question becomes: what elements position her as the industry authority who’s able to command ROI-based fees?

Do you notice a pattern here?

Your strategy serves as a “filter” for your tactics.

Whenever you’re intrigued with a new channel, technology, script, template, etc — ask yourself:

“How does this help me fulfill my strategy?”

If it does, then it makes sense to implement that tactic.

But if it doesn’t, you can safely ignore it because it’s not helping you reach your goals.

Do You Help Your Clients With Strategy?

Strategy consulting is when you provide strategic advice to your clients on specific topics.

It’s one of the highest forms of value you can provide for your clients because it will help clients both define and reach their goals.

Example: Leslie has successfully positioned her consulting business as an industry authority by using a thought-leadership marketing strategy.

Now, clients are reaching out to her for help with their HR strategy. Her clients, new tech-startups, need her help with talent retention. They want to hire her for advice and an overall plan on how they can keep their employees happy.

Notice how they’re hiring her for advice and a plan on their strategy. They’re not asking her to implement specific tactics like conducting employee interviews.

Instead, they’re engaging her at a higher level. Leslie will be the one advising her client’s HR teams on what they should be doing and why.

And the higher the level of value you provide, the more value you can capture with your consulting fees.

Jonathan Stark‘s “Altitude Matrix Worksheet” provides clarity on this idea:

consulting strategy vs tactics

Notice that the highest level of altitude is strategy.

The two below, implementation and maintenance, involve tactics.

It’s often the strategy that actually determines the tactics. The strategy you help create with your clients will determine which tactics they use.

As a consultant, you position yourself as their trusted adviser by advising on strategy, not by implementing tactics.

Imperfect Action: What’s Your Strategy?

It’s time to think about the strategy you’re using in your consulting business, and the tactics you’re using to carry out your strategy.

First, describe your strategy in 3-4 sentences. What are you trying to achieve? What is your long-term goal? What does your desired future state look like in your business?

Second, write a list of your tactics. What are you doing on a daily or weekly basis to fulfill your strategy? What different tools are you using? Is what you’re doing actually connected to your strategy?

Doing this exercise will help you get clear on your destination — and the steps you’ll take to reach that destination.

Focusing on tactics is easy. It’s fun. It’s immediate.

But if you get clear on your strategy first — and then focus on your tactics — you’ll make far more progress on your business goals.

And if you’re advising your clients on strategy instead of tactics, ensure you are capturing your fair share of the value you’re creating. Pricing models like value-based pricing will net you greater fees than charging hourly.

Are you looking for help with your strategy to grow your consulting business?

In our Clarity Coaching Program, not only will we help you define and develop your strategy — but we’ll coach you through every step with a customized plan.

Learn more about our coaching program here — or, schedule your FREE Consulting Success® Growth Session where we’ll talk about you, your business, and your next steps to skyrocket your revenues.

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