Goals & Planning Marketing Strategy

Seth Godin on the difference between strategy and tactics

Lawyers, legal marketers, administrators, if you do one thing today have a quick look at Seth Godin’s blog.  He offers up a most eloquent distinction between strategy and tactics, and sends us a valuable reminder on when it is time to re-think strategy.  Here’s an excerpt:

Here’s the difference: The right strategy makes any tactic work better. The right strategy puts less pressure on executing your tactics perfectly.

Here’s the obligatory January skiing analogy: Carving your turns better is a tactic. Choosing the right ski area in the first place is a strategy. Everyone skis better in Utah, it turns out.

If you are tired of hammering your head against the wall, if it feels like you never are good enough, or that you’re working way too hard, it doesn’t mean you’re a loser. It means you’ve got the wrong strategy.

Here’s the big question for consideration.  Are your tactics bringing in the big wins or are they just barely keeping your head above water?

For another story that describes the distinction between strategy and tactics we can look to the Second World War when Winston Churchill proposed the strategy:

“Attack the soft underbelly of Europe.”

This strategy determined the tactic of advancing on the German empire from North Africa, Egypt, to Sicily, and through Italy.  The strategy was dead on.  The tactics worked.

Here’s the caveat. Once we have bought into a strategy, and are deep into tactics, it’s easy to loose sight of the distinction. When the tactics fail or underperform it is tempting to look to different tactics rather than back to the strategic vision and plans.

In addition, many lawyers, administrators, and legal marketers, are trapped in a tactical silo, as so many firms still lack the strategic plans that come first.

If your firm, practice group, client team, or your own practice is struggling, take the time this January to review and re-think your strategy and ask:

“What is our strategy?” This should be answered in one or two sentences.

“Is this strategy paying off?” If not, “what’s working?” “What’s not?” “What could make a difference?”

And if you don’t have a strategy, make this the year that you develop one.

About the author

Allison Wolf

I am the founder of AWAL and one of the most senior coaches for lawyers in North America. I have helped countless clients over the past fifteen years, develop thriving legal practices and before that served as director of marketing for award-winning law firms. My specialty is uncovering the thinking traps and gaps holding clients back and helping them acquire the mindsets, skills, and habits for growing successful and rewarding legal careers. After a career in legal marketing and business development with law firms in Beijing, New York, and Vancouver, I was trained as a coach in 2004 at Royal Roads University and now coach clients from across North America. You can reach me at allison@shiftworks.ca or learn more about my coaching practice from the coaching section of the Attorney With A Life Website.