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The most difficult thing to explain to people new to Marketing, is strategy.  Strategy is an overused word, which has come to be a ubiquitous catchall to express anything to do with action related to businesses.

Here are some examples of what strategy is NOT.

Sales are not strategic.  They are tactical and result directly from the implementation of programs or plans supporting the strategy.

“We made a strategic decision” does not mean “We made a decision we all agreed on” or, “We made a good decision”  or “A difficult decision that we know will be unpopular” It means  “We made a serious and considered decision about important resources or efforts that change or amend what we are currently doing to allow us to better achieve our goals.”  In other words, we made a decision that better supports strategy.

“We made a strategic acquisition.” does not mean that a new product line was purchased at an advantageous price so that the company has more product to sell to keep the sales force busy.  It means that a key company, product or service will be integrated into the business and it will: add to or build on the organization’s strengths; fit within its competencies; meet target market needs; and, support the efforts to grow and develop the business and its employees.

Strategy is a goal, a good map, a plan and processes that fit together seamlessly to form a whole.

Strategy is a concept.  It’s the concept of who, what and where you want to be in the context of your environment, current and future, your competitive set and, who you want to want it to be for, or who you want to do it for — your clients/customers/users/ consumers/target audience.  From the image of who you want to be, what you want to do and who you want to reach, comes the plan of how to achieve your strategy.  This will become your strategic plan.

Just because it’s a concept, does not mean it is vague or intangible.  If it is not solid, detailed, clear, complete and understandable to all of the stakeholders, then it is NOT strategy.