What is the difference between Strategy and Tactics in Marketing?

What is the difference between Strategy and Tactics in Marketing?

The terms “strategy” and “tactics” are thrown around a lot and it is easy to get confused. Both these terms originate from military terminology and are now used widely in professional settings. If you are new to digital marketing, it is necessary to understand difference between strategy and tactics. This understanding will help you use both the strategies and tactics to achieve your business goals.

Understanding Difference between Marketing Strategy vs Tactics

When going for digital marketing success it is necessary to focus. You do this by formulating a strategy. (If you don’t know how to do this you can refer my Beginner’s Guide to Marketing Stratregy).

But most of the information you will come across on the internet talks about tactics. These topics are catchy and easily get your attention. While, using the correct tactics is important, going for tactics without right strategy will get you confused.

How do you use both strategy and tactics for best result? The answer to it lies in understanding the difference.

What is Marketing Strategy?

A strategy is a set of achievable steps you take to reach your goals.

 It outlines the “why” & “how” behind whatever you do. 

Simply speaking a strategy consists of these three essentials-

  1. A diagnosis of your problem/challenge
  2. A policy that guides how you approach and deal with this challenge.
  3.  A set of specific actions required to accomplish the policy.

Depending on your scale of work, your strategy might have several aspects each with its own specific goals.

What are Marketing Tactics?

Marketing tactics are set  targeted actions  you choose to take in accordance with your strategy to help you reach your goals.

Tactics outline the “what” to do it aspect of your action plan, such that you gain a competitive edge.

These are specific action items to implement the initiatives indicated in the strategy.

Marketing Strategy vs Tactics : Examples

Let us understand with an example. Say, your business goal is to improve purchases of a product.

You marketing strategy could be creating a optimized conversion sequence for you customers. So that their chances of eventually buying the product increase significantly.

One of the marketing tactics you might use is to run a $200 retargeting ads campaign for your website visitors. (Note how it defines the exact action)

To summarize,

Business Goals —–> Marketing Strategy—–> Marketing Tactics

Understanding in chess terms, strategy is identifying the positioning of your pieces to gain an advantage. Tactics are the act of moving these pieces into these pre-planned positions.

Good marketing is based on using both the right strategy and tactics.

Image Source: Biedermanngroup.com

Learning Only Tactics ≠ Good Marketing

Most of the marketing content you read online, often is about tactics. And it can be easily misleading if you cannot distinguish between strategy and tactics.

Say your goal is to generate $80 in revenue over the next month. In your research for the same you come across an article that tells you how to increase your likes or followers on social media. A video might tell you the best times to publish.

What they discuss is primarily tactics. This article or video might not necessarily include a strategy to connect these tactics into generating $80 in revenue.

You might get inspired and try it out these tactics. You may even do it very diligently for a while. Eventually, you will probably give up when you don’t see how obtaining followers is helping you achieve your larger marketing goal of generating revenue.

How to Use both Strategy and Tactics in Marketing?

Sun Tzu in The Art of War mentions “All men can see the tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved.” It illustrates that while tactics are more concrete and easier to notice, an overall unseen strategy behind the scenes is what helps you clinch victory.

As you must have understood by now, the question is not strategy vs. tactics, rather it is strategy and tactics. Both are necessary to reach your goals.

The best practices for Goof Marketing are as follow-

a. Always define your Marketing Goals

b. Document a Strategy to help you reach your marketing goals.

c. Identify the tactics you can use based on the strategy you choose.

d. Act and Improve.

 Your strategy helps you tie your tactics (actions) to the goals.  

When creating your future digital marketing plans, using the content you have read, it’s important to set apart the marketing tactics from the strategy. Use them both together to meet your business marketing goals.

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