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Marketing Strategy

What is the difference between strategic marketing and tactical marketing?

Melanie Hardcastle
Updated on Jan 04, 2021

Marketing is marketing is marketing… right? Well, not really. While there is a lot of overlap between different marketing tactics, there are two main types that you can use to power up your business and fuel growth. Check out this brief but informative look at strategic marketing vs. tactical marketing and learn which one is best for your business (hint: the answer is both).

What is Strategic Marketing?

Strategic marketing involves creating a plan based on a company’s goals and key differentiators. You’re essentially building a road map to help the entire team understand where you are and where you want to go. Preparing your strategy require a lot of research. You’ll likely take time to understand your target customer, creating buyer personas and using that information to pinpoint what your target demographic needs, how much they’re willing to pay for a worthwhile solution to their problem and how you can best reach those potential customers.

Strategic planning also involves learning about your competitors. What do you have that they don’t? Read up on industry trends, see what gaps there are in the market and learn from both the mistakes and successes of those that came before.

What is Tactical Marketing?

A tactical marketing plan expands on the strategy you build in step one, adding in actionable steps that will help you accomplish those decided-upon goals. Think of strategy as putting on your running shoes, learning about the track and stretching at the starting line. Tactics are how you actually take off once the race begins and how you measure your stride and tackle each hurdle.

This is where all that research you did in the strategy phase pays off. Thanks to the budget and blueprint you developed while strategizing, you can now do everything from increasing brand awareness to qualifying leads to boosting conversions.

Which One Should Your Business Use?

Businesses need both strategic and tactical marketing in order to succeed. One lays the foundation, the other constructs the building. One of the most common mistakes business owners and even newer marketers make is to skip over the “boring” research and strategy stuff and jump right into launching an email campaign or flooding social media with promotional posts.

The issue with pressing fast-forward on your marketing is that you risk pouring money into ads, SEO and other tactics that have no strategy behind them. While it’s always possible you could randomly achieve the desired result, it’s more likely that you’ll blow your budget and still be trying to gain traction. So remember: strategy first, tactical second. 

While strategic marketing and tactical marketing are often referred too interchangeably, they mean different things and should be used to achieve different goals. To learn more about creating competition-slaying campaigns, read up on the best strategic marketing planning process and see what amazing things can happen when you leave spontaneity and guesswork behind.