Understanding Marketing Strategy vs Tactics: A clear distinction


Marketing plays a vital role in the growth and success of any business. It’s the driving force behind attracting and retaining customers, increasing brand awareness, and achieving organisational goals. However, to effectively navigate the complex marketing landscape, it is crucial to have a clear understanding of the distinction between marketing strategy and tactics.

In this article, we will look at the importance of marketing strategy for business growth and clarify the difference between strategy and tactics.

Importance of marketing strategy for business growth

Marketing strategy forms the foundation upon which all marketing efforts are built. It provides a roadmap for achieving business objectives and guides the allocation of resources.

A well-defined marketing strategy is essential for several reasons:

Direction and Focus:

A strategic approach ensures that marketing activities are aligned with overall business goals. It helps organisations stay focused on their target audience, value proposition, and long-term vision.

Competitive advantage:

A strong marketing strategy enables businesses to differentiate themselves from competitors. It establishes a unique brand identity and positions the company as the preferred choice for customers.

Resource optimisation:

By identifying the most effective marketing channels and tactics, a well-crafted strategy helps optimise the allocation of resources, such as budget, time, and manpower, and help to ensure you maximise your Return on Investment (ROI).

Clarifying the difference between strategy and tactics

Before delving deeper into marketing strategy, it is crucial to understand the distinction between strategy and tactics. , they represent different levels of planning and execution.

What is marketing strategy?

Marketing strategy refers to the overall approach and framework that guides an organisation’s marketing efforts. It involves making informed decisions about how to reach and engage target customers.

Key components of a marketing strategy includes:

Market research: Uncovering valuable insights – Customer, Industry, Competition

Market research is the foundation of a successful marketing strategy. It involves gathering and analysing data to understand customer needs, market trends, and the competitive landscape. By gaining valuable insights, businesses can identify opportunities, mitigate risks, and make informed decisions.

Persona development: Creating Ideal Customer Profiles (ICPs)

Personas represent fictional representations of target customers based on demographic, psychographic, and behavioural characteristics. Developing personas helps businesses understand their customers better, tailor marketing messages, and deliver personalised experiences.

Segmentation & Targeting: Dividing the target market

Market segmentation involves dividing the target market into distinct groups based on common characteristics, such as demographics, e.g. age, income, job title; psychographics, e.g. lifestyle, personality or beliefs; or behaviour, e.g. purchases, usage or decision-making process. Targeting then involves selecting specific segments that align with the company’s value proposition and are most likely to respond positively to marketing efforts.

Positioning: Value Proposition, Establishing a unique brand identity

Positioning defines how a brand distinguishes itself from competitors in the minds of customers. It involves crafting a compelling value proposition and communicating it consistently across various marketing channels. Effective positioning establishes a unique brand identity that resonates with the target audience.

While marketing strategy provides the overarching plan, marketing tactics are the specific actions and activities employed to execute that strategy.

Understanding Marketing Tactics

Tactics are the practical steps taken to achieve marketing objectives and engage with customers. Some common marketing tactics include:

Content marketing:

Creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience.

Email marketing:

Using targeted email campaigns to communicate with prospects and customers about your offering. This involves sending (or pushing) personalised messages, newsletters, promotions, or updates directly to individuals’ email inboxes

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO):

Optimising a website’s content, structure, and technical aspects to improve its visibility in search engine results. This includes keyword research, on-page optimisation, link building, and other strategies to increase organic traffic and rankings.

Social media ads:

Using targeted advertising on social media platforms to reach specific audience segments and drive desired actions, such as website visits or product purchases.

Influencer marketing:

Collaborating with influential individuals, often social media personalities or bloggers, who have a significant following and influence within a specific niche or target audience. By partnering with influencers, businesses can tap into their credibility and reach to promote products or services and gain exposure to a wider audience.

Why strategy-first is so important

So, while marketing strategy provides the overall plan and direction, the tactics are the practical actions used to execute that strategy.

Diving straight into marketing tactics without first establishing a solid marketing strategy can cause a range of problems. Without a clear plan in place, businesses risk wasting resources on randomly selected tactics that may not align with their goals, resulting in missed opportunities and a lack of meaningful results.

Likewise, without effective tactics, a strategy remains only as theory. It is only when strategy and tactics are aligned, and work hand in hand that marketing can have a truly game-changing impact on a business.


In conclusion, a robust marketing strategy is the cornerstone of business growth. It provides direction, establishes a competitive advantage, and optimises resource allocation. By understanding the distinction between marketing strategy and tactics and ensuring they are working together, organisations can align their marketing efforts with strategic goals and maximise their impact.

To refine your marketing strategy, consider the following next steps:

  1. Continuously conduct market research: Stay updated on industry trends, customer preferences, and the competitive landscape to make informed decisions.
  2. Refine and expand personas: Regularly revisit and refine your customer personas based on new insights and changing market dynamics.
  3. Evaluate and adjust segmentation: Monitor the performance of different market segments and make adjustments as needed to target the most responsive and profitable segments.
  4. Review and enhance positioning: Regularly assess your brand positioning and value proposition to ensure they remain relevant and resonate with your target audience.
  5. By maintaining a strong marketing strategy and aligning tactics with strategic goals, businesses can position themselves for sustained growth, increased customer engagement, and long-term success.

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