Strategist Vs. Tactician


A lot of folks will declare themselves experts or strategists. They would say they are SEO experts, PPC experts, social media experts, and so on. But in most cases, they are only tacticians.

We have a lot of friends who are expert consultants, and I even get called a guru all the time. Do you know why they’re called gurus? Because they can’t spell charlatan.

For years, people have been saying that SEO will be over and that it’s a scam. Social media changes so fast that nobody can really be an expert in this one thing because there are so many different things.

Let me tell you and show you how there’s a blending of all of these different skills.

When I ask who’s an expert here or what they do, they would stand up and say; I’m an SEO strategist. I’m a social media strategist.  

What is Strategy


How will you define strategy?

People say figuring out what to do or being really good at it. To help people figure out their social media. The so-called strategists know all about what to do and show them the latest with Tik ToK, Snapchat, Facebook, etc.

But how is that different from being a tactician? Is it just because strategy sounds so much better?

They don’t realize that the definition of strategy is the unique building blocks of goals, content, and targeting (GCT). It is the DNA; Lego-like pieces of goals, content, and targeting.


For example, you’ve got a car dealership – you want to sell more cars at a certain cost with certain constraints because of your salespeople, location, and pricing. So everyone has these business goals of trying to drive a certain amount of sales at a certain cost with certain constraints. 


Your content – all the things that you say to people, whether it’s operational or marketing or as part of your production. It could be a service or a product.


And targeting- who you’re targeting. You go to persona modeling that goes all the way back a hundred years, even to lightweight micro-targeting today based on pixels and what people have done. 

But either way, the idea of goals, content, and targeting as your strategy isn’t really going to change, and strategy is channel-independent. It has nothing to do particularly with using direct mail or TV or radio or any of these other channels. 

The strategy doesn’t change all the time because you’re not going to be changing your business every couple of days.

What is Tactics

Then what’s the difference between strategy and tactics? Tactics are channel-level things. Tactics are building chatbots, and landing pages, optimizing campaigns and messing around with new social networks.

Strategy, vision, your direction is going to stay the same. It may adjust a little bit over time, but if you’re changing that strategy every week, I would argue whether you have a business or not.

Unlike strategy, tactics you can absolutely test. You can learn, and you can figure out what’s working. Strategy is having something central to be able to amplify.

Thus, anyone who claims to be a Social media strategist is an oxymoron because if they are a Facebook strategist or an SEO Strategist, it’s at the channel level; it’s tactical. So think about that for a minute. 

If you specialize in any one particular tool like  ClickFunnels, WordPress, or whatever it is, no doubt there’s a demand for how to use that tool. That expertise is valuable even with AI and machine learning, automation, and that kind of thing. There’s absolutely value in learning any particular tool or set of tools or techniques that you have, but that’s tactical.

The strategist is now going to be at the top level, at the business level. By definition, strategy has to be at that business level. 

So think about what that means for what you’re doing and how you’re investing your time to be able to gain expertise in any particular area.

Dennis Yu
Dennis Yu
Dennis Yu is co-author of the #1 best-selling book on Amazon in social media, The Definitive Guide to TikTok Ads.  He has spent a billion dollars on Facebook ads across his agencies and agencies he advises. Mr. Yu is the "million jobs" guy-- on a mission to create one million jobs via hands-on social media training, partnering with universities and professional organizations.You can find him quoted in major publications and on television such as CNN, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, NPR, and LA Times. Clients have included Nike, Red Bull, the Golden State Warriors, Ashley Furniture, Quiznos-- down to local service businesses like real estate agents and dentists. He's spoken at over 750 conferences in 20 countries, having flown over 6 million miles in the last 30 years to train up young adults and business owners. He speaks for free as long as the organization believes in the job-creation mission and covers business class travel.You can find him hiking tall mountains, eating chicken wings, and taking Kaqun oxygen baths-- likely in a city near you.