Marketing strategy vs. marketing tactics and why you need both.

One of the most common areas of confusion I see among my clients is the difference between strategy and tactics.

“Should I make a brochure?”

“Should I update my business cards?”

“Should I be making videos? A podcast? A blog?”

Marketing is the water we swim in and the feeling of overwhelm when we see ad after ad, sponsored post after sponsored post, sales email, video post, is oh so real.

Have you ever found yourself trying to do all of the above and more only to see disappointing results?

There are no silver bullets

To compound things, we often turn to experts to give us definitive answers. We’re looking for the silver bullet, the magic solution and peace of mind that we’re doing the right thing.

I’m here today to tell you that no such thing exists (cue sad trombone sound).

That’s the bad news.

The good news is you already know the best ways to market your business. And if you don’t believe me or no ideas spring to mind, you probably just need a structured way of thinking about it.

This is where distinguishing between strategy and tactics comes in.

Marketing Strategy defined

Marketing strategy is the series of questions we ask ourselves about the very nature of our business. Who do we serve? What needs do we meet? How do we meet those needs differently to others in our industry? How do we structure our services to best meet those needs? What’s our pricing strategy going to be? And so on.

The answers to these questions form the marketing elements of your business that remain relatively stable. Certainly, they contain a set of assumptions that you are then required to go out and test which is why I always recommend reviewing them once a year. But for the most part, these elements become your strategic foundation.

Marketing Tactics defined

Once you have your strategic foundation in place, you are in a waaaaay better spot to think about how you are going to get your brand and services in front of your ideal clients. Why?

Well, think about it. Now you are laser focused on who you speaking to, you know what pain points you relieve and you’re feeling super confident that you have a service process that will make sense to your clients.

Having clearly defined who your ideal clients are will also give you some clues about how best to reach them. How do they behave online? What kind of content do they gravitate towards? Do they attend industry events? Will you generate clients through a referral network? Do your ideal clients prefer old-school print brochures and business cards or do they prefer paperless? Your answers to these questions should help you to brainstorm marketing activities that will directly speak to your ideal clients.

For more on developing a tactical plan that works, check out my post about the Customer Journey here.