Is Your Marketing Team Strategic or Tactical? Here’s How They Can Be Both

Marion Steward

I’ve rarely heard of a company that has never had to redo its website. We’re currently going through the process at my own organization. In a lot of ways, the website redesign is a basic undertaking, but if you dig a little, you realize that even this “simple” job requires both strategic and tactical thinking — just as every other aspect of your marketing strategy does.

Leaders must ensure their marketing team — and more broadly, everyone in their entire company — understands the differences between these two types of thinking and uses them both in a balanced way to guide them to success.

Strategies vs. Tactics

A strategy is not simply a goal or finish line, but rather the broad conceptual path or direction you take toward a specificlong-term business goal. Choosing a strategy is all about theorizing what’s probably going to give you the best outcomes and why. So if your business has a goal to grow, then in your marketing, reasonable strategies might include exploring a new market or developing a new brand. Strategies can also depend on factors such as your company culture or trends.

Tactics are the steps taken within the strategy. Choosing a tactic is all the short-term details, theactionable things you do to move forward on the specific path you’ve picked. When you focus on tactics, it’s all about execution, and that execution is usually visible and measurable in some way. If your strategy is to develop a new brand, reasonable tactics might include selecting a good slogan and logo or researching your target market. Tactics often depend on factors such as available resources, money, skills or technologies.

Strategies Motivate and Unify People Behind a Common Goal

If there’s one thing employees want in the modern work environment, it’s a sense of purpose. In that sense, one primary question constantly arising is, “Why am I doing this?” That is where a focus on strategy becomes essential. By regularly clarifying and repeating the strategy, you also can consistently remind them of what the goal is and why it matters. Those consistent reminders are necessary to keep people motivated and unified behind the goal and ensure that they subsequently take the tactical steps necessary to get where you want them to go. As they take those steps, you and your team should evaluate the benefits of each one.

Prioritizing Tactics with Clear Frameworks Moves Everyone Forward

After you’ve come up with your tactics, you’ll need to tackle them in a logical way. So implementing tactics well requires prioritization frameworks. The four big ones you can hang your tactics on include:

1. Project

• What are your resources?

• What’s the project value?

2. Investment

• What’s the budget?

• What will the cost or spending lead to?

3. Data

• What and why do I need to know?

• How will people use the information?

4. Innovation

• What are competitors doing?

• How does our own innovation help customers and allow us to build market share?

Creating your tactics based on these frameworks can ensure that each tactic makes sense in the larger path you’re taking. They also help you and your team figure out your order of operations and guide you toward your ultimate finish line. This guidance can reduce stress and conflict in day-to-day interactions and maximize your team’s productivity.

Balanced Planning Is Your Key to Doing More, Better

For your team to be successful, they need to both differentiate and create a balance between strategic planning and tactical planning. Strategy is a broad path that allows you to motivate your employees, build an overall brand framework and reinforce why your goals are important. Tactical planning, meanwhile, lets you dig into the details of how to move forward and ensures every step on your larger path is reasonable. It’s the highly motivated, unified teams that know exactly how to implement small steps that find the most success, so take the time to understand and implement both sides of the planning equation.

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