Applying strategic level solutions to tactical level problems is like flushing money down the toilet. Applying tactical level solutions to strategic level problems is using a short-term approach to deep-rooted problems—recipe for disaster. Not knowing the when to apply a marketing strategy vs. tactics can be the death of your business.
One of my biggest pet peeves in the entrepreneurial world is when people these terms in the wrong context. I can just hear my college professor scream in my head.
This is especially common among well-meaning Facebook group members, who tend to offer the wrong advice to an original poster. When someone asks what type of content to create, the answer isn’t as cut and dry as writing blog posts.
When we talk about marketing strategy vs. tactics, we have to determine first on what level this question (or any question) falls. This specific question is related to strategic ways to use content marketing for their business, so the answer can never be a tactical one.
To accurately answer the question you need to dig into the brand strategy and review the ideal client profile, remember the purpose of the brand, and decide what platform can be better utilized and in what way.
So, again, it’s not a cut and dry answer.
Understanding each terminology in practice and understanding their difference is crucial in business.
What are Marketing Strategies and Tactics?
The Oxford Dictionary defines a strategy as, “A plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim”, and a tactic as, “An action or strategy carefully planned to achieve a specific end”.
Translating this into business language, it means that a strategy is meant to achieve your business goals (example: profit) and/or purpose (example: empowerment), while tactics are the stepping stones to achieve the micro-goals that will help you get there.
If we put this in order, it goes like this
- Mission or Purpose (part of your business plan)
- Objectives (part of your business plan)
- Strategies (part of the brand strategy plan)
- Tactics (part of the brand strategy plan or yearly marketing plan)
- Metrics/KPIs (part of the brand strategy plan or yearly marketing plan)
Marketing Strategies vs. Tactics: The Difference Between the Two
The difference between the two can be easily explained by comparing the two with each other. If we do a side-by-side marketing strategy vs tactics overview, it will look like this:
- The WHY
- Organizational level
- Difficult to copy
- The WHAT
- Operational level
- Easy to copy
As you can see there is a legit difference between the two and knowing the difference is what will help your business grow sustainably.
You’ll be able to apply the right solution to a problem and know exactly where to look for the solution.
Digital Marketing Examples
While knowing the difference between marketing strategy vs tactics is easy when we think of traditional marketing.
Everyone knows that trying to be the cheapest in the supermarket is a strategy, but launching a national campaign offering a discount is a tactic.
For online entrepreneurs, the distinction isn’t always as cleared and the line can be blurred.
We often talk about Instagram strategies. Does that mean that Instagram is a strategy level solution? The answer is no!
While we refer to Instagram strategy as the plan to reach your Instagram goals, the actual platform, the activity, is on a tactical level.
Let’s get more specific.
Defining your approach to social media to increase revenue should be part of your strategic planning, but defining what content you’ll publish on Instagram to increase traffic to your website is tactical marketing planning.
Doing virtual presentations and workshops for marketing purposes is tactical, but building a personal brand based needs a strategic approach.
Are you feeling me now?
I can go on an hour-long rant about marketing strategy vs tactics, but I’ll spare you my “presidential speech”.
I would love to know if you knew the difference between the two and if you can identify a moment where you chose the wrong approach for a problem. Let me know in the comments.