graphic showing pie chart and ideas about strategic marketing development

What’s the difference between marketing strategy and marketing tactics?

Creating an effective marketing plan for your business can get really complicated, really fast. One of the causes of this lies in the all-too-common confusion between marketing strategy and marketing tactics. It’s easy for a business to create a marketing plan with some key goals, and then adopt marketing tactics that don’t align with the overall marketing strategy just because they’re new ideas, or something that everyone else is doing.

For instance, social media is well and good, and increasing your following may be a good strategy for your business. However, marketing on Snapchat may not be the best use of your marketing resources, particularly if it doesn’t fit in with your brand. After all, “Snapchat” is a tactic, not a strategy.

Simply put, marketing strategy is your overall plan, and marketing tactics are the means by which you will achieve it. Keeping them in order is a first step toward crafting an effective marketing plan to achieve your business goals.

What do marketing strategy and tactics look like in action?

Let’s say your goal is to increase the number of high-quality sales leads in your pipeline. To achieve this, your strategy is to create a piece of high-quality gated content, and use it as a means of collecting email addresses. You designed your gated content to appeal most to an audience in the late stages of your sales pipeline. Right now, this piece of gated content is your marketing strategy.

To draw attention to your gated content, you’ve planned on three key marketing tactics:

  1. A series of blog posts related to your gated content to attract the interest of some of your target audience. They may know your brand and some of your service offerings, but may not be convinced that they’re the solution to their business problem.
  2. An AdWords campaign to direct searchers of select keywords toward a custom landing page.
  3. Advertisements across social media channels that will also direct target personas toward your custom landing page.

Each of these marketing tactics align with your marketing strategy to achieve your overall goal of higher-quality sales leads. You could, of course, adopt a different marketing strategy in which case you’d need to change your tactics. Making sure your marketing strategy and tactics match is the key to keeping your plan in course.

How do I know which marketing strategies and tactics are right for my business?

As you plan your marketing, start with your overall goals. Then consider your brand and your target personas. Adopt only those marketing strategies which will help you achieve your goals. Then use tactics that fit in with those strategies.

Easier said than done, right? We know. So here are a few questions to help you weed out bad marketing tactics and misaligned marketing strategies.

  • Can I draw a clear path from each individual tactic back to my overall marketing goal?
  • Does my marketing strategy and tactics match my target personas?
  • Is this the best use of my resources for my business, or am I merely doing this because it’s the newest trend?
  • Does this go against my brand?
  • Given my limited resources, what are my tradeoffs?

Most of us work with limited budgets. Take the time to carefully think through your marketing strategy and tactics to be sure they align. It will go a long way toward ensuring you get the best return on your marketing investment.

Published 01/19/17 by Laura Lynch