Differences Between Strategies vs. Tactics Marketing

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published August 3, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Businesses use marketing tactics to promote products and brands to consumers. Marketing tactics can help you better understand how to market your brand to your customers and guide your promotions to align with their needs. Understanding more about strategies and tactics for marketing can help you implement an effective marketing strategy and increase the chances of business success. In this article, we discuss the importance of strategies vs. tactics marketing, review what these are, and explore their differences.

Strategies vs. tactics marketing

When comparing strategies vs. tactics marketing, it can help to understand what each action entails. Strategies marketing is the process and organization by which you identify which opportunities may be the best use of resources over the next three to five years. It entails establishing the direction and branding the business wants to take and its long-term objectives. Tactics marketing involves the specific actions a business can take to achieve the long-term goals and objectives set out in the strategy. This can include campaigns, designs, and promotions to reach its desired outcomes.

A marketing strategy creates an organized structure with a coherent plan for which markets you can reach out to, what the saturation of the industry is, and what goals you can realistically set for your brand. This information helps you choose the guide for your marketing efforts, keeping them focused and on brand. Marketing tactics happen organically, but using a strategy as a guide can help your brand use them to their full potential. For example, with a marketing strategy, you have the information to help guide your tactics on the following subjects:

  • Markets: If you know what markets you're trying to reach, you can know what tactics can reach them.

  • Budgets: If you know what your budget is, you can tailor your tactics to not exceed that limit.

  • Brand: If you establish a brand identity, you can know what design elements to use.

  • Competition: If you know what competitors are doing, you can know how to be competitive.

Read more: What Is Market Positioning? How to Develop a Strategy

What is strategy marketing?

Strategy marketing is the overarching approach to how a business is going to target its consumers in its marketing efforts. This plan can act as a guide for all marketing efforts and explains how each effort works towards an overall goal. To effectively reach their audience, a company may distinguish who their consumers are, the methods that best reach them, the interests and disinterests of that demographic, and what they look for in marketing efforts. Having a clear understanding of these aspects can help a business develop a marketing strategy tailored to its audience.

The strategy also determines aspects that may affect the product's saleability, like the price, the design of the product, and its distribution. These aspects can affect how the consumer perceives the product, as their perception directly affects their purchase decision. Your marketing strategy helps understand the company's place in its market and predicts how it may change in the future. Marketing strategies are broad and establish the general principles that guide future campaigns and marketing decisions. When you are building your marketing strategy, you may consider:

  • The most effective mediums to reach your target demographic

  • Your overall marketing budget and how you plan to allocate funds

  • The behaviours and interests of your target market

  • What resources you require for completing your campaign

  • The overall goals of your strategy

Read more: What Are Branding Strategies? (With Definition and Benefits)

What is tactics marketing?

Marketing tactics are the individual marketing decisions that a brand makes when targeting their audience. They include the specific aspects of a marketing campaign, such as its branding, graphics, mediums, and image use. Tactics marketing is most effective when the marketing strategy includes conducted and guided research on the target market. Knowing your target market can help you tailor your marketing tactics to their interests and likes, making marketing tactics more effective. One brand can use a variety of marketing tactics at once. Here is a list of marketing tactics that a brand may use:

  • Print advertising materials

  • Digital advertising

  • Social media campaigns

  • Influencer marketing

  • Sales promotions

  • Search engine optimization

  • Email marketing

  • Giveaways and promotions

Regular monitoring and tracking can help you establish which tactics work best for your customer base. Capitalizing on the tactics that work best can help you improve your customer reach, audience engagement, and absorption rate.

Read more: How to Develop a Strategic Business Development Plan

Differences between strategy marketing and tactics marketing

Marketing strategies and marketing tactics have different purposes, but are reliant on each other. Even though a successful marketing plan can use both, the two terms aren't interchangeable. Your strategy defines who you reach out to and with what resources. Your tactics are how you implement that strategy. Some other differences between marketing strategies vs. tactics include:

Order

The order in which you implement the two is important to the success of your marketing efforts. Establishing your marketing strategy, including target market, choice of medium, and goals of your campaign, can help you narrow your tactics to the ones that may work best. If you implement marketing tactics prior to establishing a strategy, you risk having a campaign that doesn't align well with your target market. Defining your goals ahead of your campaign can give you a metric for measuring success.

For example, your target market is youth aged 15 to 25, and you're trying to launch a new product that appeals to them. When you are developing your strategy, you may discover this demographic responds well to social media marketing, influencers motivate them, and that they value environmentally responsible brands. Using this information, you can develop your marketing tactics to include social media campaigns and influencers, and you can redesign your packaging to be more eco-conscious.

Scope

In terms of scope, marketing strategies are long term, while marketing tactics are short term. While businesses design marketing strategies with an outlook of three to five years in mind, businesses base marketing tactics on the current trends, fads, and popular culture. It's difficult to plan marketing tactics with a long-term outlook, as these factors change frequently. Marketing strategies are more broad, while marketing tactics are specific and tangible. Marketing strategies focus on the image, goals, and overall direction of marketing efforts, but marketing tactics are more specific, focusing on actions, assets, and tasks to complete.

For example, you're designing your marketing strategy for the new year and you decide you want to change the message of your branding. You may decide that in the next three years you want to become more attractive to younger demographics, add more excitement and adventure to your branding, and become more eco-conscious in your image. After designing your marketing tactics, you can decide to implement social media marketing, rebrand your image to add more colour and loud accents, and introduce eco-friendly packaging to your products.

Details

While marketing strategies are more broad, marketing tactics take a more specific approach. There are significantly more details that go into planning marketing tactics as opposed to marketing strategies, as strategies focus on what to do while tactics focus on how to do it. Marketing tactics address all the details that are required to make a marketing campaign possible, from what mediums a business may use for its marketing to the role each medium can have. Marketing strategies provide generic goals and direction for a brand or product and don't require as many details.

For example, your marketing strategy may include building a social media presence to target younger demographics. To meet this goal, your tactics may include building social media channels, hiring influencers to represent your brand, developing a production schedule for content, and having giveaways on social media to promote new followers. Implementing the tactics portion of the plan requires more details than the overall goal of building a social media presence.

How to implement strategy and tactics marketing

By taking your existing marketing efforts and dividing them into strategies and tactics, you may have an easier time quantifying goals, planning your efforts, and understanding your target market. Here is a list of steps you can follow to implement both types of marketing in your business:

1. Develop a marketing strategy

The first step is to establish the long-term strategy of your business and do a full analysis. This includes establishing your target market, the brand of your business, your messaging, and your image. After finalizing the general marketing aspects of your company, list any goals or aspirations you want to meet in the next five years.

2. Generate marketing ideas

After establishing your marketing strategy, you can brainstorm specific marketing efforts than can help you achieve your goals. This can include developing campaigns or exploring new platforms to reach your audience. These ideas can be broad but aim to connect your strategies to your tactics.

3. Outline your marketing tactics

After brainstorming potential ideas to help your strategy develop, you can begin designing based on these ideas. This can involve deciding what platforms you might use, what campaigns you may promote and when you can promote them, and all the details that can turn your ideas into tangible actions.

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