Understanding Marketing Strategy Versus Marketing Tactics

One of the issues that continues to pop-up in marketing discussions with clients is the concept of marketing strategy versus marketing tactics; I thought it would be beneficial to explain the key differences.

Basically, marketing breaks down into three parts:

1. Set Goals: What do you want your marketing to achieve?
2. Determine Strategy: How will you achieve your objectives?
3. Select Tactics: Which marketing tools are the most effective for implementing the strategy and achieving the goals?

Let’s use the analogy of building a house to explain how each relates to another.

Setting Goals: This is simple; you want to build a house, but what kind of house? Will it be a Victorian mansion or a modest ranch? The more detailed your goals, the more likely you are to achieve them.

Strategy: When building a house, you do not start by randomly nailing 2 x 4 boards and building the framework; first, you need a “blueprint” to work from – one that specifies the style of house: Colonial, Ranch, Victorian; size of the house, bedrooms, baths; materials to be used: brick, wood, stone, et cetera. In marketing, your building blueprint is your marketing plan; this is the document that explains the strategy you will use to achieve your goals.

Select Tactics: In home-building, carpentry, plumbing and electrical work could be thought of as the “tactics” used to achieve the end goal, in this case, a house. In marketing, the tactics you may use are advertising, public relations, digital marketing and social media.

How does this approach work with marketing strategy?

Well you don’t start by saying “I need a brochure,” that is a tactic.

First, establish your goals, e.g., increase gross sales 20% each year and by 10% next quarter.

Next, determine your strategy, such as “I will employ a direct-sales effort; my sales people will make face-to-face presentations to qualified prospects and close 20% of those efforts.” Your marketing plan includes the following critical information to support your strategy:

  • An in-depth demographic description of the customer base
  • The important reasons why customers will choose to purchase from this company
  • The key benefit that makes us unique and differentiate us from our competitors

Finally, we utilize our tactics: “We will use telemarketing and e-mail marketing to set up initial meetings; during these meetings, we will utilize a PowerPoint presentation and provide a competitive analysis brochure as a leave-behind with all prospective clients.

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