By Eric Dickmann

March 9, 2023

Marketing Strategy, Marketing Tactics

Having a clear understanding of the distinction between strategy and tactics is vital for businesses to ensure their marketing plans are set up for success. Strategy provides the direction and vision for the business by outlining long-term goals and how to reach them, whereas tactical activities are the specific steps taken in order to implement this strategy. Without a clear strategy, chances are that some of these tactics may be misdirected or ineffective.

At a basic level, strategy is top-down, focused on what the business should do, with particular attention paid to which markets to operate within. Tactics are considered more as bottom-up implementation - certain actions are taken to reach goals outlined in the strategy. For example, a company’s broad strategic goal might be to increase market share, which could lead to implementing tactical activities such as reducing prices or launching new products. Understanding these nine key differences between strategy and tactics is essential for successful marketing plans — otherwise, business initiatives will become unfocused and potentially unprofitable.

As a small business owner, it is essential to have an effective marketing strategy that can help you reach your goals. A well-structured plan should contain the right blend of traditional and digital strategies to succeed in today’s competitive marketplace. To create an effective plan, start by identifying your target audience, understanding their needs and wants, and determining how best to reach them.

An effective marketing strategy should include a combination of different techniques, such as building relationships with customers, using social media platforms to promote your service or products, developing content tailored for specific audiences, and leveraging advertising and SEO strategies to maximize visibility. Additionally, don’t forget that measurement is key; track progress over time with metrics like leads generated or sales made to ensure that your campaigns are delivering desired results. Define clear KPIs upfront so that you are able to measure your progress against them accurately. Taking a strategic approach will undoubtedly benefit your small business in the long run.

Marketing Strategy vs. Marketing Tactics

When looking at strategy vs tactics, it's important to understand that both are important components of a company's overall marketing plan, but they serve different purposes and operate on different levels.

Building a long-term strategy outlines how a company will achieve its marketing goals. It involves analyzing the target market, identifying key customer segments, and creating a plan to reach them. A marketing strategy defines the overall approach that a company will take to promote its products or services and establish a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Marketing tactics, on the other hand, are specific actions that a company takes to execute its marketing strategy. These can include advertising, public relations, social media marketing, content marketing, email marketing, events, promotions, and other activities aimed at reaching customers and achieving marketing goals. Tactics are the day-to-day activities that marketing teams undertake to implement the broader marketing strategy.

In summary, a successful marketing strategy is a high-level plan that guides a company's overall marketing efforts, while marketing tactics are the specific actions taken to execute that plan and achieve its goals. A strong marketing strategy informs the selection and execution of effective marketing tactics, which in turn help to achieve the overall marketing objectives to reach prospective customers.

The Marketing Strategy

The key to successful marketing for small business owners is creating a comprehensive marketing strategy that takes into account the limited resources and budget at their disposal. A well-crafted strategy will focus on leveraging these resources to create effective, cost-efficient methods to target customers and build relationships with them through content marketing, social media marketing, influencer partnerships, and more. It’s important to consider details such as positioning, messaging, target audiences, costs of implementation vs. goals set, metrics for tracking success, and other relevant data when crafting a marketing strategy.

In addition to helping small business owners create an effective but cost-saving campaign, having a carefully crafted plan allows them to maximize every dollar spent on advertisement, unlike traditional ads, which are often viewed by audiences who may not find value in the message shared or the product being sold. This strategy also allows small business owners to stay ahead of their competitors by actively engaging customers online instead of relying on ads. Through this type of campaigning, goal-oriented metrics ensure that each promotional effort is tracked so any efforts that yield poor results can be quickly addressed before more money is wasted.

When it comes to small business marketing, budget is an important factor to consider. For any small business, the competition and customer attention can be quite fierce, but with the right strategy, it’s possible to stand out from the crowd and succeed. Knowing how much and where to spend your limited budget is not always easy, however, and in order to build an effective plan, you must assess each potential marketing channel as objectively as possible. In order for your small business marketing campaign to be successful, it's critical that you experiment, evaluate, and scale your marketing budget wisely.

Fortunately, there is now a plethora of great tools available that allow businesses of all sizes to improve their bottom line without breaking the bank. From social media analytics tools, email campaigns, content creation software, and beyond – there are endless possibilities when it comes to optimizing your online presence and using effective digital marketing strategies. Discovering which of these channels will work best for your business may take some trial-and-error effort, but once you have determined which area resonates most with your audience, then you can begin experimenting with learning more about them in order to refine user targeting even further. Creating a well-thought-out strategy along with consistently testing results will increase the chance of larger returns on investment.

Elements of a Marketing Strategy

Establishing a viable marketing strategy for a business is an important step toward long-term success. To start, the company must identify its target market and create a strong core brand. This should include the image of the business, key messaging about its products or services, and any other messaging that could create a better customer experience. Additionally, forming an action plan for how to reach your goals in the next five years is essential to steady growth. This may include setting short and long-term objectives as well as developing strategies around how to use the best new technologies, such as social media advertising, content marketing, and data analysis. By building an effective strategy and planning ahead, companies can make sure they stay on track with their goals while reaching potential customers in ever-evolving ways.

A strategic marketing plan typically includes the following elements:

  • Situation Analysis: Analyze the company's internal and external environment, including market trends, competitor analysis, customer insights, and SWOT analysis.
  • Target Market: Identify and segment the target market based on demographics, psychographics, and other relevant factors, to understand the needs, preferences, and behaviors of the target audience.
  • Positioning: Determine the unique value proposition of the company's products or services and how it differentiates from competitors in the minds of the target audience.
  • Marketing Objectives: Set specific, measurable, and achievable marketing goals that align with the overall business objectives, such as increasing sales, brand awareness, market share, or customer retention.
  • Marketing Strategies: Develop a set of broad, long-term approaches to achieving the marketing objectives, such as product development, pricing strategy, distribution channels, and promotional activities.
  • Marketing Tactics: Develop a detailed plan of specific actions to be taken to implement the marketing strategies, including advertising, public relations, social media, content marketing, events, and other promotional activities.
  • Budget: Allocate resources and determine the budget required to execute the marketing plan effectively.
  • Evaluation and Control: Establish metrics and benchmarks to measure the success of the marketing plan and regularly evaluate and adjust the plan based on feedback, market changes, and other factors.

By including these key elements in a strategic marketing plan, businesses can develop a comprehensive and effective approach to promoting their products or services, reaching their target audience, and achieving their marketing objectives.

The Tactical Marketing Plan

The purpose of building a tactical marketing plan is to create a detailed roadmap that outlines the specific actions that a company will take to achieve its marketing objectives. A tactical marketing plan helps businesses to implement their marketing strategies in a structured and organized manner and ensures that everyone involved in marketing initiatives is aligned and focused on the same goals.

Some of the key benefits of building a tactical marketing plan include:

  • Improved Focus: Helps to focus the marketing efforts on specific objectives, target audiences, and channels, making it easier to prioritize tasks and allocate resources effectively.
  • Better Coordination: Helps to align the efforts of different teams involved in marketing, such as sales, product development, and creative teams, ensuring that everyone is working towards the same goals.
  • Clear Accountability: Assigns responsibilities and deadlines to specific team members, making it easier to hold them accountable for their actions and measure their performance.
  • Resource Allocation: Helps to allocate resources such as time, budget, and personnel, ensuring that they are being used effectively and efficiently.
  • Measurable Results: Establishes specific metrics and benchmarks for success. Tools like Google Analytics make it easier to measure the effectiveness of marketing efforts and make adjustments as needed.

By building a tactical marketing plan, businesses can create a clear and actionable plan that helps them achieve their marketing goals, engage with their target audience, and build brand awareness and loyalty.

Elements of a Tactical Marketing Plan

Marketing tactics are the steps marketers take to reach their ultimate goal of acquiring and maintaining customers. Tactics are informed by a strategic plan, which is part of the larger marketing strategy. Tactical planning encompasses all aspects of a campaign, from advertisements to market research to personal selling. The key is to find what works best for each company or organization in order to make a successful impact on the desired target audience.

One example of effective marketing tactics is content marketing, where companies create valuable and informative content that helps draw potential customers into their brand's world through tactics like search engine optimization (SEO) for organic traffic. In addition, social media can also be used as an effective digital marketing tactic when done correctly, as it allows marketers to reach millions of potential customers quickly and cost-effectively. Online advertising is another way to directly target potential clients with ads tailored specifically to them by collecting data from their past behavior online and on other platforms. Ultimately, no matter the tactic chosen, understanding how it fits into the overall marketing mix contributes greatly toward creating positive results for the business or organization.

A tactical plan for B2B companies typically includes the following elements:

  • Product/Service Offerings: Clearly define the products or services offered by the company, including their features, benefits, and pricing.
  • Target Market Segmentation: Identify and segment the target market based on industry, company size, job titles, and other relevant factors.
  • Customer Persona Development: Create detailed profiles of the target audience, including their needs, pain points, goals, and behavior patterns.
  • Content Marketing Plan: Develop a plan to create and distribute relevant and valuable content using digital marketing tools that address the needs of the target audience, such as blog posts, white papers, case studies, and webinars.
  • Social Media Strategy: Define the social media channels, tactics, and influencer marketing campaigns to be used to build customer engagement with the target audience on social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and others.
  • Email Marketing Plan: Develop a plan to use email marketing to nurture leads, promote products or services, and communicate with customers.
  • Sales Enablement: Develop sales tools such as sales collateral, product demos, and presentations that help sales teams effectively communicate the value proposition of the company's offerings.
  • Events and Sponsorships: Identify and participate in relevant industry events, trade shows, and sponsorships that provide opportunities to engage with the target audience and build brand awareness.
  • Account-Based Marketing (ABM): Develop a targeted marketing approach for key accounts, including customized content, events, and communication plans.
  • Metrics and Reporting: Establish metrics and benchmarks to measure the success of the marketing plan, such as lead generation, conversion rates, and customer retention, and regularly evaluate and adjust the plan based on feedback and results.

By including these key elements in a tactical marketing plan for B2B companies, businesses can develop a comprehensive and effective approach to promoting their products or services, engaging with their target audience, and achieving their marketing objectives.

Finding the Experience You Need to Build a Marketing Strategy

Not all businesses have the executive role of Chief Marketing Officer. This is especially true of small and midsize companies. In those firms, they might have a VP of Marketing, Director of Marketing or even a Marketing Manager. The title really doesn't matter. The concept of a fractional CMO is an experienced marketing manager who can help create a comprehensive strategy and manage tactical execution.

If you're looking to grow, chances are you'll find significant value engaging a fractional CMO to help build an effective marketing strategy and tactical execution plan.

How a Fractional CMO Can Help

A fractional CMO can help businesses build a marketing strategy and tactical marketing plan by providing their expertise and experience in the field of marketing, on-demand on a part-time basis. They can conduct a thorough analysis of the business and its competitors, identify target markets and customer segments, and develop a marketing strategy that aligns with the business goals and objectives. They can also develop a tactical marketing plan that outlines the specific actions and initiatives needed to execute the marketing strategy, including identifying the appropriate marketing channels, messaging, and budget allocation. A fractional CMO can also provide guidance and support in implementing the marketing plan, measuring its effectiveness, and making necessary adjustments to ensure its success. Overall, a fractional CMO can bring a fresh perspective and valuable insights to help businesses build a strong and effective marketing strategy that drives growth and success.


While marketing tactics are important for small businesses, it's the strategy that will truly set you apart from the competition. Take the time to understand your audience, define your unique selling proposition, and create a plan that aligns with your overall business goals. By doing so, you'll be able to build a sustainable and successful business that stands the test of time.

It's time to grow your company!

Learn how a fractional CMO can help your business grow!

Contact us today to learn more about our Virtual CMO advisory service.

Eric Dickmann

About the author

Eric Dickmann is the Founder / CMO of The Five Echelon Group, host of the weekly podcast "The Virtual CMO" and YouTube series "Work-Life" and a fractional CMO for a variety of small and midsize companies. An executive leader with over 30 years of experience in marketing, product development, and digital transformation, he has worked with large, global companies and small startups to develop and execute marketing strategies to bring innovative products to the market.

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