But the truth is: good marketing involves so much more than coming up with catchy slogans or devising clever advertisements to promote your business.
It involves strategy. (AND tactics! But more on that later.)
Strategic marketing is a complex process that details everything from the top down that needs to be done in order to get your product in front of potential customers.
In marketing, there are many different strategies and tactics you can use to grow your business, build brand recognition, and drive more sales. And being able to choose the right ones for your company is essential for immediate, accelerated growth.
Your strategy is based on your company’s long-term goals, and finding just the right mix of tactics is what will help you achieve those objectives faster than you might expect.
We won’t blame you if your head is spinning with trying to understand the differences. Let us break it down for you by explaining exactly what marketing strategies vs. tactics means and why it matters so much for your business.
Marketing Strategy Defined (PLUS What Makes A Good One)
A marketing strategy – based on extensive research, planning, and internal reflection – is often planned out months, or even years, in advance. However long it takes, the goal is for it to serve as a broad outline of how you are going to go about marketing your product or service.
Suggested reading: Why a good marketing strategy takes time
A marketing strategy is essentially a document that outlines your company’s aims (goals), actions (strategies), and resources (budget) with regard to marketing activities.It is the high-level roadmap that every marketing campaign to follow will be built upon.
Among other things, it’ll include:
- company goals
- marketing objectives
- KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)
- target audience profile
- brand personality
Your strategy might be a plan for focusing on building a brand, increasing brand awareness, or maximizing conversion rates through various channels like email marketing, social media, or paid ads.
When thinking about your marketing strategy, it’s important to ask yourself questions like:
- How can we make our product stand out above the competition?
- What are our strengths?
- What are our weaknesses?
- What is our core message?
- Where can we fill gaps in the market?
- Who is our target audience or demographic?
- What do we want our marketing to achieve?
- What perception do we want to create of our brand?
The Most Important Things To Consider When Creating A Marketing Strategy:
First and foremost, KNOW your target audience. Learn them inside and out. Humanize them by creating a customer profile. This step is so important because your audience is the foundation upon which everything else is built.
If you don’t know who you’re marketing to, how will you know what they want and how to reach them? It’s more than identifying which marketing channels are best, it’s finding out which type of message they will respond to best.
You also need to understand your competitors. You don’t need to know everything about them, but you do need to know enough to understand their strengths and weaknesses, their position in the market, and the type of message they’re sending out.
This is not a “find out what they’re doing and do that” activity. It’s about finding your secret sauce. What makes you different from them? Better than them? Lean into that.
Finally, you need to understand the market your business operates in. What are the trends, opportunities, and challenges? What is driving demand and supply? What are your customers’ needs? What gap in the market are you uniquely equipped to fill? These are just some of the questions you’ll want to answer.
What is a Marketing Tactic?
Unlike an overarching, broadminded strategy, tactics are the small, specific ways you can reach out to customers and build brand awareness. They’re usually one-off campaigns great for driving immediate results and helping move the needle.
For example, if you want to increase brand awareness at the local level, you can do things like create location-targeted social media advertisements or hold in-person events within your community.
Other examples of tactics include:
- Blog content
- Facebook ads
- Website creation
- Lead magnet creation
- Monthly newsletter
- Special discounts
While you’re building your marketing strategy, you might even find yourself jumping ahead and identifying specific tactics that will help you achieve your goals – and that’s okay. Find a place where you can park tactic ideas and come back to them later.
When thinking about your marketing tactics, it’s important to ask yourself questions like:
- Which channels are best for reaching your target customer?
- How can we get their attention?
- What do they want to know before buying our product?
- What metrics can we use to monitor the success or failure of these tactics?
Why Knowing The Difference Between Strategy And Tactics Matters
Having a strategy without tactics is pointless. So, too, is using tactics that lack strategy.
Strategy is the long-term vision. Tactics are short-term actions. In short, if your strategy is the Google-mapped address, tactics are the vehicles to get everyone involved to where you all want to go.
When working through a marketing plan, it might be a good idea to think of tactics as a living, breathing thing – capable of change at any moment. Tactics are inherently adaptable. With tactics, you track, analyze, and adjust accordingly. Making changes should be relatively quick and easy.
Strategy – though not quite set in stone – should be handled differently. You don’t want to overhaul your entire strategy every time a tactic is unsuccessful. Instead, make changes to your marketing strategy only when absolutely necessary and with a great deal of intention.
And because strategy is the map, you begin with strategy first. Always. Then you can choose specific marketing tactics that will help you execute that strategy and reach your target audience.
For example, if you want to increase brand awareness and increase sales through email marketing, you might choose to use a tactic like a drip email marketing campaign. This tactic, built on top of your overarching marketing strategy, will enable you to reach your target audience in the way that works with them.
Because once you understand the difference between marketing strategies vs. tactics, you can align your tactics with your strategy and reach more people than ever before.
How To Align Your Marketing Strategies With Your Tactics For Optimum Impact
To align your marketing strategies with your tactics, you first need to understand the core objectives of your company.
Ask: What specifically do we want to achieve with our marketing?
Because when you know the main objectives of your company, you can break them down into smaller, digestible goals that will help you reach those main objectives.
These goals will help you guide you to the right marketing tactics to support your overall strategy and help you get more people interested in your product or service.
The Bottom Line
Marketing tactics and strategies are both essential for creating an effective marketing plan. Knowing the difference can help, but deciding where to start can often give business owners a serious case of analysis paralysis.
We’re here to help.
Our Fractional CMOs are skilled in taking what can be a complex process and distilling it down into the hands-on marketing expertise they need.
At yorCMO, we’re on your team. By partnering on the C-Suite, our marketing experts fully engage with your company, aligning your marketing strategy with the right tactics and giving you clarity for continued, predictable growth.