Marketing Strategy vs. Tactics: The Most Important Distinction in Marketing

Marketing strategy and tactics are words often used interchangeably. While they may seem the same, they are distinct from one another, though they work to support each other.

So, if you’re thinking of writing a foolproof business plan, it will help to know the difference between marketing strategies vs. tactics.

What is the Difference Between Marketing Strategy and Marketing Tactics?

To learn more about their differences and how they support one another, we should define each term first.

Marketing Strategy

Strategic marketing serves as the backbone of all your efforts. Simply put, it answers the question ‘why.’ That’s because it aligns with your objectives while helping you define your marketing approach.

It is geared towards the long term, meaning it aims to address what your people are trying to do and why they’re doing it.

A good strategy should include the following features:

  • Marketing or business goal, or the objective you wish to accomplish with strategic planning
  • Target audience, or the people you like to engage with
  • Brand guidelines, or the way you wish to engage with the market (i.e., your type of brand, how this will reflect in your advertising, your digital marketing strategy)
  • Opportunities and threats, which pertain to the rewards and risks while detailing the competitive advantage of your business

Here are some examples of the questions your marketing strategy should be able to answer:

  • How do we grow the market share without going over the current budget?
  • Where will our target customers be in the next decade?
  • How do we plan to increase our current reach ten years from now?
  • What resources do we need for effective digital marketing?
  • What are the goals we need to achieve in a certain period (i.e., three years, five years, ten years)?

Marketing Tactics

On the other hand, marketing tactics are methods that can help you achieve the objectives in your marketing plan.

The difference between strategy and tactics is that the latter is focused on a single, present goal. In other words, tactics are what you use to answer the question ‘what.’

Though different, tactics without strategy are essentially useless. As tactics and strategies help inform you of the accomplishments, risks, and possible failures, they work together to improve product sales.

Looking for specific examples of action-focused tactics? Here are some:

  • Implement an SEO tactic that reaches out to customers within 20 miles of the company
  • Send digital or email newsletters of sales to customers every week
  • Use the Tumblr blog site as a means of advertising to a younger demographic
  • Offer free memberships to new people while charging a fee increase to those who have been using the website

Examples of the Difference Between Marketing Strategies vs. Tactics

If you still can’t differentiate a strategy from a tactic, here are some excellent examples to follow:

Goal: Rebrand the company to appeal to a younger base.

  • Strategy: Get a ‘digital facelift’ for the business and implement new website services
  • Tactics: Create a new website with a fresh design, update the existing content, launch a mobile app, share your product through social media, and implement other marketing activities

Goal: Increase revenue and grow your business.

  • Strategy: Follow a digital marketing strategy that can lower the costs of promoting the brand
  • Tactics: Use SEO for the website and its corresponding blog posts, implement email marketing tactics, and leverage on-page CTAs

Goal: Launch a new product or service

  • Strategy: Learn more about the competition, identify your tactical marketing audience, and determine the best channels to promote your brand
  • Tactics: Make audience profiles, develop buyer personas, name your marketing mix, and implement tactics such as website ads, email and content marketing, etc.

The Role of the Marketing Plan

As mentioned, strategic marketing is all about the ‘why’ while tactical marketing answers the ‘what.’ Tying these two together is the marketing plan, which answers the question ‘how.’

As the intermediary between your strategy and tactic, a marketing plan helps you determine the best way to meet your goals.

At the same time, a plan can help you determine your key performance indicators or KPIs. These can come in handy for monitoring the success of your strategies.


A strategy serves as your game plan. It can help you reach your audience while persuading them to engage with your business. Tactics, on the other hand, are methods that help you execute your goals.

Although they are different, it is important to ensure that these two factors are aligned. Without tactics, strategies are useless and vice versa.

You also need to make sure that your tactics are faring well by continually monitoring them. For example, if you wish to undergo a website redesign, you need to measure its effectiveness by checking the bounce rate, page views, and other metrics.

If you can’t seem to meet the metrics, it will help to take a good, hard look at your strategies and redefine them as needed.

Piran Tarapore

Published by
Piran Tarapore

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