Is Your Marketing Strategic or Tactical?
This is embarrassing to admit given the work I'm in today, but when I was interviewing for my first job out of college, there is one question I remember being asked - "are you strategic or tactical?" When I heard this question, I froze, responded "tactical" and quickly moved on. The truth is I didn't know the difference between a strategy and tactic then and didn't know how to answer the question.
Now, almost two decades later, if I was asked that question, I would say I'm both. I'm strategic; I like to look at trends and insights and plan for the future. I'm also tactical; I like my to-do lists and getting things done.
This same question can be asked of your marketing efforts - are they strategic or tactical?
Your marketing is strategic if..
You know how marketing is helping to achieve your business goals
You have a documented plan for your marketing
The plan has been shared with company leaders
You have a marketing team working together to execute your marketing activities
Your marketing efforts are working towards goals that are 1 month and 1+ years out from now
Your marketing is tactical if..
You don't know what you're doing for marketing 6 months from now
You are focused on getting your near-term marketing projects done
You have different team members contributing to marketing and not collaborating together
You don't have goals for the work you're doing
You say "yes" or "no" to marketing ideas without a reason to communicate
Companies need both strategic marketing and tactical execution. It's really easy to get caught up in tactical marketing, especially when the company is growing and the team is under-staffed and under-skilled. You are putting out fires and trying a lot of ideas that come your way. You will see short-term successes that will come and go.
With strategic marketing, you need to spend some time researching, thinking, and planning. That effort pays off when you have a documented plan with goals and a calendar of activities that everyone on the team is working towards. You will execute your work more efficiently because you will know ahead of time what you need to work on, giving you breathing room for the fires that will inevitably come. You will also be smarter about what you are doing and how it will be relevant to who you're targeting so that you are seeing positive results for your company on an ongoing basis.