Is Your Marketing Strategic or Tactical?
Are you wondering what is the difference between tactics and strategy in marketing? It is a common question, especially for startups and businesses who are new to marketing.
Tactics are how marketing is commonly described. They are the ads you see, the emails in your inbox, the webinars you attend that are sponsored by companies. Marketing tactics are one-off activities. They turn on and off throughout the year. Their results are short-lived and mostly measured by engagement, like open rates or clicks.
Marketing strategy is the holistic, integrated collection of your tactics. For example, the emails you receive from your tutoring service company might be part of a customer loyalty marketing strategy. Under a customer loyalty strategy, the company might send emails with discounts, mail you postcards about exclusive events, and serve you ads on Instagram. The results of a marketing strategy are long-term and measured by metrics that align to business goals, like increases in customer lifetime value or revenue.
Marketing strategy is also the foundation of all of your marketing efforts. It usually includes the development of a marketing plan that outlines how you should explain your company to your ideal customer, how you're measuring the impact of your marketing, and what technology and resources you need to execute your marketing initiatives.
Here's a quick assessment to help you determine if your marketing is 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.
Understanding what is the difference between tactics and strategy will help you create a marketing system that will contribute to the company for the long-term with continuous results and improvements.