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Strategy vs Tactics

Knowledge is power, set your marketing campaign for success by learning the difference between Strategy and Tactics.

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Updated: 

May 17, 2022

Marketing strategy and marketing tactics are two key elements of a successful marketing campaign. It's a common question, and it's one that brand marketing teams get a lot. Many people think that marketing strategy and marketing tactics are interchangeable, but they're not. Here’s why.

Strategy

Marketing strategy is all about the big picture and how you plan to achieve your goals as a marketer. It's about deciding what your brand stands for and how you'll communicate that message to your audience.

The best product or service in the world won't sell itself. You need a strategic marketing mix to make sure that people know about it and that they know why it's better than what else is out there. A good marketing strategy will help you define your target market, how your business will stand out from the competition, and what you'll need to do to reach that target audience.

The first thing you need to do when creating a solid strategy is to figure out what you're aiming for. Then, once you have that strategic goal, break it down into smaller chunks to seem more manageable. Once you've done this, you can start developing tactics for each of those chunks.

Tactics

On the other hand, marketing tactics are the day-to-day actions you take to grow your business. Tactics are what drive long-term strategies and ultimately achieve company goals.

These are all actual actions that help you communicate and interact with your audience. Still, they don't have anything to do with sharing your brand's identity or vision—they're just ways of getting attention from potential customers so that they'll buy from you!

Also, you might have a strategy to increase sales by increasing your online presence. Your tactics might include building a website, creating social media accounts, and advertising on local news sites. You could achieve this goal by following a tactical plan that consists of these three tactics.

For example, while advertising on Facebook or giving away free samples at local events may help your brand awareness grow in the short term, they won't necessarily lead you toward achieving your long-term goals—which is what a good marketing strategy should do.

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Strategy without tactics

Strategy without tactics is the most common mistake in business.

If you have a strategy, but nothing is ever implemented, then nothing happens. It's like having a grand plan to build a house but never using the hammer. In other words, no matter how clever your business decisions are, they won't matter if they're not executed well.

That's why it's so important to get this part of your business right: if your strategy doesn't match up with the way you do things on a day-to-day basis, then you won't be able to stay focused on what matters—and you'll end up wasting time and money on things that don't contribute much to your company goals.

Tactics without strategy

The tactical marketing without strategy approach to marketing is a sure way to burn through your budget and get nowhere fast.

When you're doing digital marketing and advertising, it's easy to get caught up in the excitement of creating new content and posting it out into the world. These are all essential things to do—but they're not enough. Without strategic planning for what content you want to create, how often you want to post it, and where you should be posting it on social media platforms—you're just putting out fires instead of building something more significant.

Marketing isn't about getting people's attention; it's about getting them to convert. And if your posts aren't targeted toward specific audiences with specific interests in mind, they're not going to convert very well.

What does strategy include?

Strategy is a plan for achieving marketing objectives. So what does strategy include? Let's break it down. It consists of the following:

  • Market Research: You need to know who you are selling to and what they want.
  • Insight: You need to know what they need and how you can provide it.
  • Target Market: You need to know who will buy your product or service.
  • Goals and Objectives: You need a clear purpose. For example, you increase sales by 10% or reduce costs by 20%.
  • Brand Positioning: How should your brand be positioned in the market? This is often called positioning.
  • Budget and Ad Spend: What is your budget for advertising? What are your plans for spending that money?
  • Tactics: What tactics do you plan to use when advertising your product or service? For example, TV ads, radio spots, print ads, web banners?
  • Success metrics: What metrics will you use to measure the success of your campaign?

If you have a clear understanding of your business goal and what it will take to achieve them, you are well on your way to developing a successful marketing strategy.

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What do tactics include?

The best marketing tactics are those that can reach your target audience in a way that's easy for them to understand. They include:

Social media posts: Sharing content on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram promotes your business or products/services.

Search engine click ads: Paying Google (or another search engine) to show up higher on its results page when someone searches for things related to what you're offering.

Native ads: Making sponsored content that matches the look and feel of the platform it is displayed on. It is created not to disrupt the user experience and blend in with the platform.

OOH ads: Also called out-of-home advertising, any visual advertising media found outside the home, such as billboards.

Email marketing: Emailing potential customers about your products/services, promotions, etc.

Experiential ads: Directly engaging with your target customer through creative and memorable interactions from a more personal angle.

SMS ads: Sending text messages to people's phones that contain information about your company or product and asking them to opt into further contact.

Telemarketing: Calling people up and trying to sell them something over the phone.

Marketing tactics are like a toolbox—you have a bunch of different tactical marketing techniques, and you can use them in any combination to get your brand into the hands of your target customers.

What is a great strategy?

A great marketing strategy clearly understands a company's hurdles and goals, identifies a target market and ways to get them engaged with the brand, and measures the efforts, results, and success.

Moreover, a great marketing strategy understands what your company needs to succeed. It also identifies your target audience and how you can connect with them so they become interested in what you have to offer.

What are great tactics?

A well-made tactic resonates with your audience. It makes them feel and creates interest. A great tactic also reinforces your brand values while clearly promoting the benefits of your product or service, so you don't have to worry about confusing customers with mixed messaging (or worse, having them not understand what they're supposed to do).

Know your strategy and tactics!

Here's the thing: you're never going to know everything. But that's okay! Because when it comes to running a business, knowledge is power. And having a great strategy along with effective tactics gets you right on track.

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