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Jessica Quiroga - 12.09.2019

Marketing strategy versus tactics. What’s the difference and why it matters?

Strategy and tactics are often used interchangeably when discussing marketing goals, but they are definitely not the same. The word “strategy” is a buzzword I hear often when speaking to clients but really they are discussing tactics. So, what really is the difference between a strategy and tactics and why does it matter when it comes to achieving your marketing goals. In short, a strategy is your overall direction towards reaching a goal and tactics are the actions taken to support your strategy. Let’s dive deeper and discuss the key differences between the two.

Marketing strategy

A marketing strategy is your overarching vision of how you plan to accomplish your goals. Without a strategy, you risk not having a clear direction or plan in place to meet your business goals, out-compete your competition and most importantly grow revenue. Think through your approach, how can marketing help grow your business and what plan do you need to develop to get you there. 

Marketing tactics 

Tactics are the specific actions you plan to take that ladder up to your strategy. This includes the day-to-day marketing initiatives and activities like writing a blog post, posting on social media, running paid media, sending an email, etc. Your tactical actions should focus on the details that support your strategic plan and the execution of it. 

Strategy and tactics don’t compete with each other but complement each other and work together. To achieve the highest impact on your marketing spend start by setting a goal, developing a strategy, then focus on tactics. Here are three helpful tips for developing a marketing strategy and supporting tactics:

Strategy vs. Tractic

1. Set a clear and realistic goal 

The most important aspect of developing a marketing strategy is ensuring it is aligned with your business goals. A strategy should focus on one specific goal and how you plan to fill this gap to gain a competitive advantage and grow revenue. Data plays a major role in setting realistic and measurable goals. Analyze and leverage your data to help drive your decisions when you think about setting your goals. A good example of a clear and realistic goal is to become a product category leader within the lighting market by the year 2022. Make sure you are setting realistic and SMART (specific, measurable, actionable, relevant and time-related) goals for your team based on your resources and time.

2. Develop your strategic plan and the tactics that ladder up to your plan 

Once you’ve identified your goal, it’s time for strategic planning to take place with key stakeholders to discuss your long-term plan. It’s important to take a collaborative approach to ensure all key stakeholders are involved in defining the strategy. More often than not, I’ve seen clients take the opposite approach and leave out key stakeholders when developing their strategy resulting in lost time, an inaccurate strategy and unaligned business goals. Keeping with our example goal above a good strategy could be developing engaging content to persuade consumers our lighting products are the best on the market. Once you’ve developed your strategic plan you’ll then need to determine your tactics and assign owners to each tactic, define the target audience, set parameters around budget, timing and resources.

3. Track your progress

Now that your plan is set in motion it’s time to begin tracking your progress. Set key performance indicators (KPIs) that are important to your executive leadership team and what your team deems successful. Review industry benchmarks to cross-check to see how your KPIs stack up. A few examples of KPIs (still using the example above) could be tracking market share within the lighting category, website sessions and conversions, keyword rankings, email engagement (open/click rate), paid media cost per mille (CPM) and cost per click (CPC). Tracking your progress is critical to see what is working and what is not, and if you need to course-correct some of your tactics. The frequency at which you should track your progress is dependant upon the tactics you’ve set in place and if you should be tracking on a weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly basis. Test and learn from your results and consider an optimization approach if you aren’t seeing the KPI results you expected.

Developing a marketing strategy and tactics can seem like a daunting and time-consuming task. Without a clear marketing goal, strategy and tactics you run the risk of becoming directionless, wasting money on channels that aren’t bringing you results and losing out on potential customers to your competitors. We’ve helped many of our clients develop marketing strategies and tactics to align and meet their business goals, grow their business by ultimately helping them grow revenue. Send us a message and we’d love to learn how we can help you create winning marketing strategies.