Strategic vs. Tactical Marketing: What’s the Difference?

If you don’t know what strategic or tactical marketing is — or if you don’t have a strategy and tactics for your business in place — you’re wasting a lot of time and money.

Strategy and tactics don’t have a lot of value on their own, or any for that matter. One should always follow the other.

Still, even businesses that do understand the importance of having a marketing plan often miss one of these two elements.

Is it because defining your strategy and tactics is challenging for non-marketers? Or maybe because, generally, people think having only one is fine.

In this article, I’ll try to explain why both strategy and tactics are necessary and show you how easy creating them can be, even if you currently have only a blurry vision of your marketing agenda.

Defining Strategic and Tactical Marketing

Before we dive in, let’s first define what these two terms mean and involve.

Strategic marketing is the process of achieving a company’s goals based on a detailed plan that involves defined marketing objectives, KPIs, target audience, and more.

Tactical marketing is the process of taking deliberate steps that will help a business achieve its predefined goals. Advertising, lead generation, branding, special offers, etc. are all a part of tactical marketing.

And here’s a jargon-free definition of the two: strategy is where you want to be; tactics is how you’ll get there.

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Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

What’s the Difference Between Strategic and Tactical Marketing?

Now that you know what strategic marketing and tactical marketing are, we can discuss the differences between the two.

By now, it should be clear that strategic marketing is your overall marketing plan, and tactical marketing is the implementation of that plan.

This means strategic and tactical marketing help achieve the same business goals but do so in different ways.

From that perspective, it is already clear that one should influence and reflect the other. Yes, there are differences between the two, but — if you successfully planned out both — there should also be similarities.

A strategy involves general principles, while tactics include specific activities that reflect those principles. A strategy is your theory; tactics are your practice.

A strategy also comes first, while tactics come second.

That means you should always consult your strategic plan when devising your tactics. Otherwise, having a marketing strategy at all doesn’t make much sense as you won’t be actually using it. Well, not intentionally, at least.

A cooking metaphor might be appropriate

Understanding marketing concepts without seeing them in practice can be difficult.

That’s why I’ll compare strategical and tactical marketing to something you do daily: cooking.

Imagine you want to make a chicken burger — which we’re using here as a metaphor for your marketing objectives. It’s what you want to achieve and where you want to be.

A chicken burger and the ingredients you need are a part of your marketing strategy. Ingredients are your KPIs, your macro topics, etc.

Now, how you’ll make your burger is outlined in your recipe. Cooking recipes are much like the tactics you’ll use to achieve your predefined marketing objectives.

Your recipe will tell you the exact steps you need to take to make a chicken burger: mix, roll, heat, cook.

Your marketing tactics tell you what you have to do to achieve your marketing objectives — such as growing your audience or establishing authority: advertise, improve SEO, create lead magnets.

Is creating a strategy and a tactic really worth it?

By now, you probably realize that creating a detailed marketing strategy and tactics takes a lot of effort, time, and (mostly) money.

Both involve conducting thorough research and analysis of your findings, let alone the actual creation of your plan.

Questioning the importance of having a strategy and tactics is not only normal — it’s wise.

So… is it really worth it? Let’s first zoom in on the numbers.

Marketers who document their strategy have a 313% higher chance of reporting success. (CoSchedule)

Marketers who define objectives are 429% more likely to report success, and 81% achieve their goals. (Convince & Convert)

59% of most successful B2Cs (Content Marketing Institute) and 62% of most successful B2Bs (Content Marketing Institute) have a documented content marketing strategy.

Now, let’s clarify why most marketers that have a documented strategy (and, most likely, tactics) have a much higher chance of success.

Detailed and well-thought-out plans will help guide your everyday marketing activities. You’ll get a clear direction and know exactly where you want to be and how to get there.

You’ll also minimize the time and money you waste on ineffective and inappropriate marketing activities.

For example, if your goal is to establish authority in your industry, then it would be best if you focus on creating valuable content rather than on, say, organizing giveaways.

This helps you save a lot of resources you’d waste on irrelevant activities — and dedicate them to what matters instead.

What to Include in Strategy and Tactics for Your Business

Now that you understand the importance of having a plan, you’re probably curious to see how you can create a winning strategy and tactics for your business.

Here’s what you can include in each.

Strategy is all about:

  • Marketing objectives
  • KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)
  • Target audience
  • Macro and micro topics
  • Marketing channels
  • Resources and timeline
  • Brand

Tactics are all about:

  • Publish valuable content
  • Place advertisements
  • Set up a website
  • Create a lead magnet
  • Send a newsletter
  • Offer special discounts
  • Organize a giveaway
  • The host lives on social media

Again, what you’ll include in your tactics is entirely up to your strategy.

You can use all the tactics I mentioned above or pick a few you want to focus on to achieve your unique marketing goals.


Your business needs both strategic and tactical marketing to achieve set marketing objectives.

One should reflect the other. When reviewing your tactics, anyone should be able to tell what your objectives, KPIs, and other elements of your strategy are.

It works the other way around too. Your strategy should always dictate what your tactics look like.

Strategy and tactics are both essential links in the marketing chain. Without either, the chain inevitably breaks.


Originally posted by me on Medium. Main Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

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