USING WARFARE as an analogy, marketing is the equivalent of strategy and advertising is more akin to tactics. Tactics can be focused on the short-term. Tactics can be wholly unconventional, unexpected, non-traditional, even bizarre. In short, tactics (and advertising) may be "creative." Tactics may win a specific part of a particular battle, but, in the end, tactics must produce results that help accomplish some mission within The Big Picture — the overall strategy.

If you ever need a short, pithy sentence to rein in a group of overly enthusiastic advertising people, simply tell them their ideas are wonderful, cutting-edge, funny, and unique BUT they do not line up with your overall marketing strategy. They'll ask, "What is that?" And you'll change their lives for the better by posing the following two questions:

1. Who are we talking to?

2. What are we trying to tell them?

Many advertising campaigns are built around the third question, "How are we going to do that?" before they even think about the first two. So always bring everybody back to 1 and 2.

By thinking about those questions yourself, you'll develop some valuable insight into your own market situation. You'll be able to spot good tactics and weed out others that would lead you astray. You'll immunize yourself against all the ad-speak, buzz words and trendy mistakes that are waiting out there to eat up your profits and destroy your business.