Tactically brilliant, strategically imbecilic

I heard Neal Conan use this phrase. I see it describes many actions we see in business

  1. A/B testing your pricing is  tactically brilliant, strategically imbecilic
  2. Relying on social media campaigns and metrics is  tactically brilliant, strategically imbecilic
  3. Using 99 cents in your pricing because Apple does it is  tactically brilliant, strategically imbecilic
  4. Setting an arbitrary high price without understanding customer segments is  tactically brilliant, strategically imbecilic
  5. Obsessing over hundreds of product details is  tactically brilliant, strategically imbecilic
  6. Running a Groupon promotion for advertising is tactically brilliant, strategically imbecilic
  7. Antagonizing one group to attract another is tactically brilliant, strategically imbecilic
  8. Playing with depreciation and amortization rates to make quarterly numbers is  tactically brilliant, strategically imbecilic
  9. Acting like Steve Jobs, after reading Isaacson’s book, is  tactically brilliant, strategically imbecilic
  10. Increasing switching costs to retain customers is  tactically brilliant, strategically imbecilic

5 thoughts on “Tactically brilliant, strategically imbecilic

  1. Venky
    Welcome. Hope you will stay long enough to get used to the snarkiness.
    That said, I believe strategic marketing is lot more than social media marketing and I deplore those who say “social media strategy”. Knowing your target segment and reaching them where they are is relevant but counting number of tweets and Likes is tactically imbecile.
    You should check out results of Old Spice (how its revenues are hurting despite runaway success of their guy on horse) and VirginAmerica which is social media darling but their latest earnings report show them struggling.


  2. I am a new visitor to your blog. Hence apologies, if my question sounds inane or has been done to death. I am curious to know why do you feel “Relying on social media campaigns and metrics is tactically brilliant, strategically imbecilic”. While I am quite aware of the childish pretentiousness behind some of the metrics which masquerade under “Social Analytics”, I am unable to see why it should be dismissed completely with such strong overtones. Am I missing something here?


  3. good stuff – how about banks charging customers who go briefly overdrawn – ? short term tactically brilliant, but long term strategically stupid – kicking a customer when down does not build loyalty


  4. Great list. Here are two more that I just heard about two of the sponsors at the Olympic Village in London.

    1. Visa has mandated that no other credit cards can be used at any of the more than 800 vendors. Tactically annoying, strategically imbecilic.

    2. Macdonalds has decreed that none of the other food vendors can serve French Fries (except for stands that sell Fish & Chips.) Tactically questionable, strategically imbecilic.


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