Very often, we get strategies confused with plans, goals, objectives, missions, purpose, visions etc. It’s crucial to understand the differences within your business. Here’s a common sense (under 3-minute) approach to understanding the difference between each.

Your vision is where you want to go. This is about defining what you want to achieve. What is the intended improvement or place you would like to reach.

You mission is what you do.

Your purpose is why you do what you do. What’s the point? What’s motivating you and your business?

Goals are the measurable, tangible, results you’re looking to achieve.
Outcomes are the results and benefits of reaching your goals and objectives. These can be both tangible and intangible (better repute…)

Plans are what you develop as the appropriate action steps you need to take, and in what order, to achieve your desired objectives.

And finally, we’ve got strategy. In a nutshell, strategy is “how” you’re going to get something done. It doesn’t matter who is doing the work; what matters is how you’re going to get there. That’s what strategy is all about. You might be asking yourself, how does this differ from a plan? Well, plans are linear and often misguided when proper strategies aren’t in place. You see, we might know we have to do this first, do that next, and then do this. But without strategy, we waste time, energy, and money by following a plan which might not work – or even get us closer to our desired outcomes.

Consider this when it comes to marketing. Most organizations don’t have a strategic marketing plan. We know marketing is important. We know we’ve got to reach new customers and care for our existing customers, but most organizations don’t have a clear cut strategy which helps guide their day-to-day actions.

When Harley-Davidson decided to focus on building its customer community in the early eighties, this became the driving strategy within the organization. The plan was then devised to fit this mold, and or course, their plans allowed for mid-course corrections along the way.

If you were wondering why most organizations carry out poor marketing, it’s almost always because of lack of strategy.

What’s your strategy?