Strategy vs tactics in marketing – why the difference is important
In a rapidly-changing industry, it’s no surprise that the information surrounding marketing online is becoming clouded. There’s a lot of information to absorb – new social media channels like IGTV, new ways of connecting with audiences, and new generations to speak to using video, blogs, images, podcasts, and more.
But, the fundamentals of marketing should stay the same, which is why it’s surprising that so many people are confused about the difference between a marketing strategy and marketing tactics. Without understanding the difference between both, it’s unlikely you’ll make an impact. So, what’s the difference?
What is a marketing strategy?
In the purest form, a marketing strategy, or digital marketing strategy, is a long-term plan combining everything you need to do to hit one or more objectives your business has, limited by time and resources. Whether you’re a startup or a multinational corporation, an effective marketing strategy is essential to ensure you meet your goals. Top marketers who document strategy are 538% more likely to report success than those who don’t.
If you want your marketing strategy to work, it needs DUMB objectives – ones that are Doable, Understandable, Manageable, and Beneficial. For example, you might want to:
- Grow the number of new customers
- Increase your sales
- Improve your retention curve
All of these objectives are beneficial to your company and measurable to track the progress of your marketing plan.
What are marketing tactics?
Marketing tactics, different from a strategy, are short-term answers to meeting your goals. They are the unique tools or methods you will use to bring your strategy to life and hit measurable results. Content types are not tactics, nor are content types specific to certain marketing tactics. Tactics might include:
- Paid advertising – you pay for your brand to appear in popular publications, websites, search engines, or social networks for example.
- Sponsorship – you provide funding in exchange for representation at events, in podcasts, or webinars for example.
- Advocacy – common types include sharing social media of customer-made messages and blog posts.
- Events – Planning conferences, webinars, or meetups digitally or physically to target specific audiences.
- Gamification – the creation of apps, quizzes, or playable ads to promote your brand.
There are plenty more tactics modern marketers use to reach their goals, but what is important to remember is that they are useless without measurable objectives tied to them, and these come from your strategy. This is why knowing the difference between tactics and strategy is essential.
Fitting strategy and tactics together
What does a good marketing strategy look like? They usually include a SWOT analysis so you can discover your obstacles and opportunities to choose the best approach to marketing your brand. You’ll then come up with your DUMB objectives – what you want for your brand, and the key results you’re looking for. That’s where the tactics come in.
You need to decide what are the best ways to reach your objectives. This depends on the market research that should have been carried out before or during the SWOT analysis, so you know who you are targeting, the best ways to reach them, and how much money you can put towards this. Then the final step is to put these into action.
An effective marketing strategy is fundamental to a successful marketing campaign and bettering your business. But, knowing the right tactics to use can be tricky, especially when there are so many.
For more information on the latest in Digital Marketing, please go to, 2019 Digital Marketing Strategy that will keep you ahead of the competition
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