Strategic Marketing vs Tactical Marketing

The primary difference between tactics and strategy is their objectives. Tactical marketing is focused on short-term goals such as increasing sales, while strategic marketing is focused on long-term goals such as creating a sustainable competitive advantage.

When comparing strategic marketing vs. tactical marketing it is good to first understand that both help a company achieve its goals. A marketing strategy is the big picture and often a long-term plan for accomplishing Objectives and Key Results (OKR). Marketing tactics refer to the specific short-term and immediate actions required to accomplish each step of the marketing strategy. Ready to find out more? Then let’s take a look at this analogy:


OKR: Win the war


STRATEGY: Leverage our superior navy, causing key battles to occur where we have an advantage: in the water. 


TACTICS: A surprise attack launched from aircraft carriers to wipe out key enemy navy ships, will further our marine advantage. Battleships and destroyers, now unchallenged, blockade sea ports eliminating all water-bound trade, and supply lines. Battleships shell rail lines, power plants and communication hubs, eliminating any remaining trade routes.


OK, so back to the marketing world. Our OKR might be to dominate a market. Our marketing strategy may involve narrowing the target persona to one where our Value Proposition has the most differentiation from competitors. We want to compete for business only on battlefields where we have the advantage, so we can meet our goals: boosting our Click Through Rate (CTR) and overall Return on Ad Spend (RoAS). Because our target persona is responsive to ad sales on a specific social media platform, the tactics may include Pay Per Click (PPC) ads that more narrowly define our target audience. 


A big-picture strategy should always drive tactical execution. Utilizing tactical marketing without strategy leads to “random acts of marketing.”


What is Strategic Marketing?

Strategic marketing is a long-term approach that focuses on understanding the market and the customer’s needs to develop a plan that addresses these needs. It involves analyzing the business environment, identifying target markets, and creating a marketing mix that aligns with the organization’s goals. The aim of this is to create a sustainable competitive advantage that allows a business to grow over time.


Market Research

This involves gathering data about the market, competitors, and customer behavior. The data is then analyzed to identify trends, opportunities, and threats that the organization can leverage or mitigate. Through market research, a business can gain insights into customer preferences, buying behavior, and motivations, which can help them create products and services that align with their needs.


Unique Value Proposition (UVP)

Another important element of strategy is the development of a (UVP). A UVP is a statement that describes the benefits a customer will receive from a product or service that the competition does not offer. A strong UVP can help a business differentiate itself from the competition and create a loyal customer base.


Strategic Marketing Plan

Part of strategic planning is creating and outline of the strategies and tactics that the business will use to achieve its marketing objectives. Your strategic plan should include a marketing budget, a timeline, and metrics to measure the success of the company goals.


What Are Examples of Strategic Marketing?

For example, your goal may be to increase the CTRs you get from a social media campaign you are using on Facebook by 15% in the next month. Your strategy might involve having a better understanding of your target audience before you perform the tactics of new ad creation and launch. You may want to increase your organic searches or increase brand awareness in your potential client base. Another goal may be something basic, like introducing existing customers to a new line of product.


What is Tactical Marketing?

Tactical marketing involves the tools and channels through which one can use to reach their goals and achieve their strategy. Tactics outline how the information and content get presented.  Tactics are focused on the short-term execution of specific marketing activities to achieve immediate results.


The primary objective of tactical marketing is to increase sales and revenue in the short-term. It involves activities such as advertising, promotions, events, and sales tactics. It is often used to promote a new product or service or to address a particular issue in the market.


While tactical marketing is focused on immediate results, it is not meant to be a standalone approach. Tactical marketing should be aligned with the organization’s strategic objectives. For instance, a business may use tactical marketing to promote a new product and increase sales in the short-term. However, the ultimate goal should be to use the insights gained from the tactical marketing to inform the overall plan and create a sustainable competitive advantage.


What Are Examples of Marketing Tactics?

Marketing tactics might involve creating websites, placing advertisements, and developing brochures or mailings. Tactics involve the actions that a company takes to put a product in front of their customer base.


One possible example would be to create dynamic and strong call-to-actions (CTAs). Other examples of tactics include to boost your strategy are:

  • Evergreen webinars

  • Email marketing campaigns

  • Authentic videos and blog posts

  • Subscriptions, discounts, and offers via digital means

  • Customized landing pages


Automated webinars can help you target your audience and generate more leads. You won’t need to pursue any manual processes when developing automated and evergreen webinars. Customization and automation via email marketing campaigns also ensure a faster and more streamlined process for reaching your marketing goals. 


To boost customer retention and generate more sales, you can offer special discounts, subscriptions, and more via social media, email campaigns, or other digital channels. To boost conversions and generate leads, personalized landing pages with relevant search engine-based keywords may help.


Tactical Marketing Channels

Here are some examples:

  • SEO marketing channels

  • Email marketing channels

  • Social media tactics

  • Catalogs and brochures

  • Direct selling/phone customer service

  • Digital advertisements

  • Marketing events and company conferences

  • Industry networking events

  • Indirect marketing through retailers


Tactics may range from search engine optimization to leveraging an influencer on a specific social media platform to promote a product launch to creating automated customer purchase loops via email marketing campaigns. Reading more of our articles you will find numerous tactics and channels that can help your company achieve its marketing strategies or goals.


Strategic marketing determines the need for a marketing campaign and the target customer of the content and the plan for content delivery.


Key Differences

The primary difference between tactics and strategy is their objectives. Tactical marketing is focused on short-term goals such as increasing sales, while strategic marketing is focused on long-term goals such as creating a sustainable competitive advantage.


Another key difference is their focus. Tactics focus on the execution of specific marketing activities, while strategy is focused on understanding the market and developing a plan to achieve marketing objectives.


Tactics are often reactive, while strategy is proactive. Tactical marketing is used to respond to changes in the market, while strategy is used to anticipate and prepare for changes in the market.


Finally, tactical marketing is often implemented by the marketing team, while strategic marketing involves the entire organization. Strategic marketing requires input from different departments such as finance, operations, and human resources to ensure that the marketing plan aligns with the organization’s goals.


Creating a Marketing Plan

When considering marketing strategies vs. tactics, a tactical marketing plan builds on the strategy and encompasses the step by step details. The strategy is focused on meeting the company’s long term goals and the tactics break down objectives into manageable steps.


Strategy Directs Your Tactics

Start with the strategy. Do the tactics support the strategy? Answering that question will keep you on track.


Once your plan has been developed, businesses can focus on tactical marketing activities to achieve short-term goals. Tactical marketing activities may include advertising, promotions, events, and direct marketing. These activities should be aligned with the strategic marketing plan to ensure that they contribute to the long-term goals of the organization.


Developing Marketing Objectives

Once you have answered the big-picture questions and created an overall marketing strategy, it’s time to develop more specific objectives. Break down the big goals into smaller steps. Put together actions and plans to support the goals of your marketing strategy. 


You will also need to develop SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely) goals to find the best ways to meet your objectives. The tactical marketing plan needs to prioritize the top objectives and business goals so that you can bring more focus to the essential parts of your marketing strategy.


For example, if the business goal is to increase profit growth, you can break down objectives into acquiring 20 more clients within the next month. 


The actions behind the objective can include creating personalized Facebook advertisements, producing a white paper requiring customers to enter their contact information, and sending email campaigns offering special offers to gain more customers. 


Follow the Customer’s Journey

You will also need to determine whether your marketing approach has any gaps or bottlenecks that you can fix. You will need to audit your content and analyze your processes to see where you can fill any missing gaps. Consider the customer’s viewpoint at every point of the marketing and sales process. 


Start with the first impression and continue into the conversion and final sales point. Figure out what type of content you’re missing and add it to the marketing strategy. 


Foundational vs. Ongoing Tactics

You may want to break down tactical marketing into foundational and ongoing tactics. Foundational tactics involve keeping track of your marketing content that is constant and in continual existence. That may include your website, social media profiles, or Google reviews. Foundational tactics involve keeping your brand consistent. Ongoing tactics involve changing things and remaining flexible to reach objectives when results are stagnant. 


Assign Tasks to Staff

You may want to incorporate project management software to simplify assigning tasks to team members and tracking projects. You can collaborate better with staff via software messaging. A few top project management tools include Asana, SmartSheet, Wrike, LiquidPlanner, and Celoxis.


Capture Metrics

Capturing strategic and tactical metrics will help quantify how will your company is resonating with the right audience. Your organization will improve its communication and actions to ensure better customer retention. Best of all, company profits will increase with the right strategic and tactical marketing plan.


Strong Marketing Strategy and Tactics

By looking at your program tactically and strategically, you will ensure your plan becomes successful and effective. Your marketing will grow stronger and more agile to move in the right direction even when certain hiccups show up.


TLDR Conclusion

In conclusion, tactics and strategy are two distinct concepts with different objectives. Strategy is a long-term approach that focuses on understanding the market and the customer’s needs to develop a plan that addresses those needs. Tactical marketing, on the other hand, is a short-term approach that focuses on the execution of specific marketing activities to achieve immediate results.


Both tactics and strategy are essential for the success of a business. Strategy provides a roadmap for the organization to achieve its long-term goals, while tactics help businesses respond to changes in the market and address immediate issues.


Clear as Mud?

No need to go it alone. Integration between strategic and tactical marketing is a standard part of a fractional CMO’s services.  A fractional CMO will work closely with the marketing team and other departments to ensure that the marketing plan aligns with the organization’s goals.


A fractional CMO understands that a successful marketing plan requires a balance between tactical and strategic elements. By understanding the differences between the two and integrating them effectively, businesses can create a sustainable competitive advantage, anticipate and prepare for changes in the market, allocate resources effectively, and build brand awareness.


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strategic vs. tactical marketing


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