Online Marketing Strategy & Tactic Are Not the Same

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It’s time to avoid the Stinkin’ Thinkin’ most businesses have about online marketing strategies and tactics.

If you surveyed 100 business owners, chances are, roughly half would say they thought marketing strategies and tactics were the same things. And when looking closely at the definitions of both words, you can see why people view them similarly. However, in truth, online marketing strategies and marketing tactics are two very different things. And in today’s marketing world, businesses must learn to utilize both tools in unison to attain any successful campaign. Thus, matching the right tactic to a specific strategy is critical.

Like in David and Goliath’s story, King Saul had a strategy to defeat the Philistine army. But unfortunately, he was using the wrong tactic. Although his tactic involved utilizing a host of soldiers to outnumber the Philistines, his men were too afraid to fight the Philistine’s giant.  Then along came a young shepherd boy named David with a slingshot and a rock. And it was this type of highly-focused tactic that actually brought down the giant! Fortunately for David, he defeated Goliath while also helping King Saul achieve his strategy to win the battle.

Thus, online marketing strategies really can work well, as long as you learn to utilize the right tactics. Yet, it would also help if you had an innovative plan in place well before implementing the process.

What does your business really know about online marketing strategies?

When it comes to marketing strategy, the first thing businesses must know is that they should take a forward-thinking approach. After all, a strategy is the long-term marketing action plan that companies put into place to obtain a desirable outcome. In the end, an online marketing strategy considers “how” a business will reach its sales goals; this is why planning is so vital. And as with anything in life, we will paraphrase Benjamin Franklin’s quote that says, if you ‘fail to plan, you plan to fail.’ Overall, a great strategy takes an innovative approach to your ultimate game-plan on how you’ll convert leads into happy customers.

There are three main aspects to an online marketing strategy:

1- Situation Analysis is the first step in strategy development. It refers to the methods professional marketers use to analyze your company’s internal and external environment. The analysis helps you and the marketing agency understand your ideal customers, capabilities, and overall business culture.

2- Marketing Objectives are the defined goals your company sets. They are another crucial component of your online marketing strategy. In fact, the objectives outline the marketing team’s intentions and offer clear direction for each member to follow. Objectives also must be measurable and offer executives information to review and support. This way, the team knows if they’re on track with their strategies.

3- The Strategy itself, is the ultimate plan that considers the question – How do we “get there” or reach the goal?

Online marketing tactics and strategies chart

Source: Smart Insights – Strategy VS. Tactics Chart

Here’s the truth about marketing tactics and how to use them.

As we formally call it, tactical marketing is the highly practical stuff that companies do each day to generate leads. For example, dispatching emails to potential customers or prospects is a tactic many companies use to promote products and services. Other instances include sending tweets and other social media posts or publishing blog articles. In other words, online marketing tactics determine what exactly your company will do and/or use to “get there” and implement the strategy.

Online marketing tactics also have three main aspects. They consist of:

1- Tactics – The necessary tools that your company will use as the details of the strategy.
2- Actions – Who will be responsible for which parts of the strategy and what exactly will they do?
3- Control – What and which measuring and testing platforms do you have in place to monitor the performance?

Top five differences between online marketing strategies and marketing tactics

So, here are the down-and-dirty differences between online marketing strategies and tactics. This way, you rid yourself once-and-for-all of the stinkin’ thinkin’ that both tools are the same.

1.    Strategy defines your competitive lead.

Companies should view strategy through the lens of how precisely you can contend with competitors is an excellent way to distinguish between strategies and tactics. For instance, going back to our David and Goliath story, you can think of strategy as your ‘rules of engagement’ in a battle.  In contrast, your tactic could be an airstrike or a brigade of ‘grunts.’ Both are incredibly effective; however, the strategy determines which one will more effectively and efficiently accomplish your goal.

2.    Strategy defines future direction, while tactics do not.

All businesses use tactics to run their online marketing because tactics happen organically. However, marketing strategy doesn’t happen organically; you must define it to know which tactics to use. It’s vital to define your strategy since this will ultimately specify the future direction of company goals and success. At the same time, a planned strategy makes your business successful and differentiates it from competitors.

3.    A strategy sets a specific long-term vision. Tactics are the short-term tools to use to help you obtain it.

Your company should have specific targets to work towards and something to review performance against. However, a common problem is when companies don’t have specific target deliverables because there’s no clear strategy, and businesspeople are focusing only on tactics. Consequently, you’ll want your strategy to define the link between vision, goals, objectives.

4.    Strategies also set particular long-term objectives.

Overall, the tactics you utilize should collectively support the general direction of your business strategy. They should also contribute to the overall aims of the company. The best way to confirm that your tactics are working in sync with your strategic objectives is to align them against various strategies.  We would also recommend building projections based on conversion models to ensure that strategic investments will give you the desired ROI.

5.    Marketing tactics do not define priority markets, audiences, or products.

Since marketing strategies help define the audience, priority markets, and products, you should apply Segmentation, Targeting, and Positioning (STP) at this point. Tactics will only involve formulating the best way to communicate your strategy to audiences. And typically, they won’t involve a strategic review of which ones provide the best audiences or product/market fit.  Another crucial part of STP is defining key audiences and online marketing personas.

There’s one other difference worth mentioning…

If you’ve been in business for an extended number of years, you’ll know that marketing strategies haven’t changed much over the last hundred years or so. Marketing plans and goals are pretty much the same in 2020 as they were in 1920. In other words, strategies are timeless; yet tactics must and always will change with the times.

For instance, what business doesn’t want to increase sales on their newest product? That goal is a timeless strategy that covers every service industry known to man. Take Ford Motor Company, for example, if it has a new car to offer, the overall plan is to increase car sales. So, whether they were promoting new car sales back in 1920, or today in 2020, the goal remains the same. Yet, in 1920, Henry Ford’s staff used large posters as a tactic to announce their newest car models. In 2020, they use simple and effective tactics of TV commercials and online marketing ads.

So, when you change the time frame, the strategy remains the same, but the tactics will likely change. How effective you become at developing strategy and applying innovative tactics for online marketing success may require some professional assistance.

In the end, you want to pursue clear and achievable objectives and implement tactics that support your strategy. Most companies concentrate solely on tactics without having precise objectives or conducting an initial analysis. However, learning to utilize both strategy and tactic will ultimately give you an edge on the competitors, as you’ll be doing what most businesses don’t do. Think about it? Did any Philistine use a simple rock and slingshot to win a battle?

Consider a partnership solution to online marketing.

Connect with BUILDINGBLOCKS to find out how we can serve as your fully-outsourced online marketing partner, or simply become an innovative extension of your existing team. Either way, we’re here to help you develop well thought-through and organized strategies that add to your bottom line. At the same time, we’ll provide the best tactics necessary to help you reach those goals.

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