A strategy is a larger, overall plan that can comprise several tactics, which are smaller, focused, less impactful plans that are part of the overall plan. While the original usage of the terms strategy and tactic was in a military context, they are now used in a wide variety of everyday settings, including business.
edit Strategy - Tactic difference in military usage
Militaries often make a distinction between strategy and tactics. Strategy involves planning, during war and peace times, preparing for the unexpected for greater security and future victory. Tactics, on the other hand, deals with carrying out the objectives laid out in strategy — i.e., accurately and effeciently deploying troops and military equipment to combat zones.
edit Strategy vs Tactic in business
The usage of the words strategy and tactic in business is also derived from the original military context. A business strategy is different from a tactic in that different tactics may be deployed as part of a single strategy. For example, one strategy to gain market share would be brand building. As part of a company's brand building strategy, they may adopt different tactics like online advertising and celebrity endorsements.
- strategy. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/strategy (accessed: October 03, 2008).
- tactics. Dictionary.com. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/tactics (accessed: October 03, 2008).