When you’re building a digital marketing strategy for your business, it’s important to understand the definition and differences between strategy and tactics. And failure to invest time and effort into both can leave a business short when it comes to the growth they’re looking for.
What are the differences between strategy and tactics?
The best way to understand this is to use the analogy of planning a holiday. A strategy is your over-arching plan – where you want to go, when you want to go and how much you want to spend to get there.
For example, you might want to spend two weeks in America during the summer and you have a budget of $2,000 per person. The tactics are the finer details of this plan – where in America you want to go, who you’re going to fly with and how you’re going to allocate your budget to travel, accommodation, hire cars and so on.
How does this translate into your business?
For a business perspective, your strategy might include such elements such as how many leads you need to attract every month, who your target market is and what channels are best to communicate through. Google Ads, for example, might be a key part of your business strategy and it’s important to identify that at an early stage. But when you get to the tactics level, it’s about the keywords you want to target, the banner ads you’re going to produce and the copy you’re going to use in the adverts themselves.
The same is true with SEO. If you’re working with an SEO consultant then you know that SEO is a key component of your ongoing strategy. Even understanding the right keywords might be part of this first step. But building content and backlinks isn’t something that needs to be focused on at the strategy level.
Why focus on both strategy and tactics?
One without the other is a waste of time.
A strategy without tactics leaves a business paralysed with inaction. Imagine what would happen if you wanted to take that holiday to America, planned it all out and then never went and picked which airline you were flying with? Well, the same thing would happen with a business. Top line strategy is a great starting point, but you then need to figure out how you’re going to implement all these ideas you’ve come up with.
The reverse is often worse. Setting up a Facebook Ads campaign without understanding the goals for that campaign or the target market it is supposed to appeal to, can result in a lot of wasted money. Many businesses have fallen into the trap of ‘quick fix’ tactics that result in high costs and low results, or worse still, someone getting the sack.
It is vital to have both in place for the successful growth of your business.
How to build a successful marketing strategy
A strategy is definitely the starting point for success, and ideally a comprehensive plan that extends out over the next twelve months. When we build a strategy, we start with five comprehensive questions:
- Who are we targeting?
- How are we going to attract them to our website?
- How are we going to turn them into an enquiry?
- What will we do with them once they’ve enquired?
- How are we going to continue engaging with them once they’ve stopped being a customer?
Now each of those questions has a lot of other secondary questions to them and as we work through them, a detailed strategy evolves from the discussions. What we avoid at this stage, is the small tactical decisions that are needed to execute – they can wait until later. We know we’ll need a content plan in order to attract customers to the website and engage them on social media, but we don’t need to decide blog titles at this stage.
Test & learn with tactics
With your tactical execution, it’s vital to measure and adjust as you implement. Tools like Google Analytics are important to understanding what results you’re getting from your actions. This will result in changes and improvements to the tactics, but not necessarily any new actions within the strategy. Tactical changes can also be made quickly and easily whereas bigger strategy decisions should be given more thought and discussion.
The first step for any business is a clear strategy, but for ongoing success, the tactical implementation needs to be well done and monitored ongoing. Whatever part of your business you’re looking to improve, these steps can offer a clear way forward and a better chance of future success.