Marketing Strategy vs. Tactics and How Confusing Them Can Doom Your Business

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Marketing Strategy vs. Tactics and How Confusing Them Can Doom Your Business

Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.― Sun Tzu

Great tactics will win you a battle, but great strategy is what wins you the war. Time and time again I have seen businesses, even online-savvy businesses, die a slow death of great tactics and bad strategy. The reason it is so important to know the difference is because you can have so-so tactics with a great strategy and come out on top. But if you have a poor strategy, the best tactics in the world won’t save your business.


Patton talking about strategic leadership vs. tactical leadership.

Strategy vs. Tactics

In a nutshell, strategy is about picking the right goals or objectives and tactics is about how you go about achieving those goals or objectives. In a war, a strategist will say “we need to capture this city not that one,” but a tactician will say, “here is HOW we will capture this city.” The role of tactician is much simpler, because the objective is already defined. Strategy is as much about deciding what NOT to do as much as what to do.

How This Applies to Marketing

The biggest way this applies to marketing is “positioning,” which is a word you may have already heard. While marketing tactics are about focused on how to interact with your potential customers, marketing strategy is more about picking the right customers to go after. There are so many businesses in the world, and picking the right “niche” to call your own is the most important thing you can do to ensure success or guarantee failure.

Strategy Moves the Needle, Tactics Jiggle It

If your business is going “downhill” or you are struggling to gain traction, then marketing tactics won’t help you. You can optimize your website, squeeze conversions, and launch a new ad campaign, but while they may give short term results, you will find yourself still feeling like you are swimming up stream. When you have a great strategy, then marketing tactics always feel like you “have the wind at your back.” You still need them, but they don’t feel do desperate.


The Art of the Pivot

When businesses “pivot” it means they take their basic values and services and move them to a new niche or application. When a new promising business starts up, it may need to pivot two or three times before it finds itself feeling like it has found its groove. When a business is old, and finds itself in a changing world, it usually has to pivot and restructure to find relevance in the market. So many businesses refuse to even think at this level of strategy, and just keep buying the latest fad tactics in hopes of just “making it work again.”

Do You Find Yourself Running Against the Wind?

against-the-windMost marketing firms are tactics-focused. They will sell you new tactics for attracting customer or “‘increasing conversions.” Those things are great, but only if you already feel like your business is in the right place, and just needs more fuel. If you experiencing that “sinking feeling,” and you know what I am talking about if you are, then you need more than just increased conversions. CastABigger.Net is a strategy focused marketing firm, and we would love you help you get your groove back.

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Chris "The Brain"
Chris "The Brain"
Chris "The Brain" has an eclectic background of experience in design, software development, web development, business strategy, marketing and sales strategy, and content development. He has created and overseen marketing strategies for dozens businesses and was co-founder and President of Fat Atom Marketing in Carmel, IN.
  • Thanks for the concepts and perspective. I really buy into what you’r saying and have been working on this myself. I also challenge each of my clients to create a strategy based on what problems they solve or want to solve (I don’t let them tell me what they do…), who they do it for, and then develop why they do it. Thus, allowing them to differentiate themselves from their competition. It’s hard work, but that’s what separates the General from the Private.

  • cdreed1231

    Yes its best when it starts from the WHY. Thanks for your contribution!