Strategy, shmategy… What’s in a word?

I noticed my friend Chris Zaharias over at Omniture posted about Search Engine Strategies rapidly becoming Search Engine Tactics. Zzzzzzz… Sorry Chris, I’ve heard it all before and long before your post.

Being a classically trained marketer myself, I’ve often suffered a furrowed brow when I hear people in the industry who are not marketers getting some terminology mixed up. And yet, it hasn’t stopped me saying “wow” when they show me what they mean and I’m blown away with it. Could I correct them on the terminology? Sure. But shouldn’t I really just be grateful they taught me something I didn’t know?

SES is all about learning. And I can assure you, I learn something new at every show. And a lot of it I put into a very different category which is much broader than trying to pigeon hole everything into strategy or tactics. I put it into the “that was cool” category.

Let’s face it, as I’ve said so many times before, what the heck is search engine optimization (SEO)? I’ve been in this industry since 1995 and I don’t know anyone who has optimized a search engine. Same thing with search engine marketing (SEM). I don’t know anyone who’s marketed a search engine.

More to the point, who’s the nitwit who coined the term social media? That description says more about a bunch of  TV people going to a dance than it does about Facebook or Twitter!

I’m afraid we work in an industry where, often, nothing is what it seems and frequently nothing is what it means.

If marketers learn something they didn’t know before in any of our sessions, then they can classify and categorize it any way they want. Strategy, shmategy. Tactics… tic-tacs. Whatever!

I think it may be just a tad supercilious to talk about the 150+ speakers at SES as if none of them knew the difference between strategy and tactics. Some of us do, actually.

As for the definition of strategy used in the post…. My colleague and Buddy, Stew Quealy quotes a much better one: “Vision is where the rubber meets the sky. Strategy is where the rubber meets the road. Tactics are where the rubber meets the back of your head.” And at SES, we do all three.

70 sessions, 150+ speakers, you’re bound to get a mixed bag. But please,  let’s not consider making everyone read Philip Kotler’s classic Marketing Management book and answer questions on it before they can speak at SES.

And just for the record, I believe the last time anyone actually “whoop, whooped” and “high stepped” out of a room, it was the closing night of New York’s famous Studio 54 in 1986.

Anyhoo… Come see Mike Grehan take on both Chris Zaharias and Ron Belanger in an arm wrestling match live at the Omniture booth next week (If you guys start selling tickets I want my 20% 🙂

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