Not sure you understand the difference between a marketing strategy and tactics? You’re not alone.

In any business, the words strategy and tactics are used frequently and often interchangeably. They both play an essential part, and each is imperative to the success of the other, but they do have different meanings and purposes – especially when it comes to marketing. 

We see a lot of entrepreneurs, coaches, course creators, and small business marketers, in general, using a bunch of different tactics because that’s what they see others doing. But they often forget that a strategy should be driving which tactics you use and how the tactics all work together. 

With a random selection of tactics, but no strategy guiding them, your results might look like this:

  • Your emails have low click-through rates, and high unsubscribe rates 
  • You’re spending money on ads but not getting any conversions
  • You’re creating blogs and social content, but you don’t seem to get any web traffic or leads for the effort

If you’ve experienced any of this, no need to worry, we are going to walk you through how to choose the right marketing tactics based on your business goals and strategy.  A strong marketing strategy and the correct tactics work hand in hand; one needs to follow the other to achieve your business goals. 

Digital marketing goals, strategies, and tactics (oh my!) 

Before we explain the difference between a strategy and a tactical plan, here is a quick reminder: you should always start with your business goals… they need to be defined before understanding what your strategy will be, and in turn, what tactics will work best.

So – what are you trying to achieve in your business and marketing? Your goals are the primary outcomes you want to generate. You should also set a measurable target to go along with this. If you can’t measure something, did it even happen?! (OK, in some cases, yes, but for digital marketing purposes, we always want measurable goals 😉 )

If you are struggling to set your business goals – we got you. At the end of this blog, we have an offer that will not only help you create clear business goals but crush them! 

So we start with our goals, which helps us define our strategy, which we turn into a tactical plan (made up of multiple marketing tactics). 

Marketing strategy vs tactics… what’s the difference?

In short, a strategy is your high-level, longer-term plan that will help you achieve your goal, and a tactical plan contains the actions you’ll take to actually execute the strategy.

To dive a bit deeper, a marketing strategy is your game plan; it highlights a clear set of choices that define what you are going to do and not do, forming a clear strategic direction for your marketing. We like to think about our strategy as the business milestones we want to achieve.

As an example, for Proof, our Q2 goal was to launch and sell X courses. So the Q2 strategy revolved around growing our audience and email list, plus launching and selling the new course. Once we identified our goals and milestones, we could then determine the tactical plan (and tactics themselves) to help us achieve that.

A tactical plan then is the who, what, where, when – or said another way, your to-do list to execute your strategy.  And a tactical plan contains the marketing tactics you use to reach your ideal customer / audience, connect and engage with them, and convert them. 

There are hundreds of different tactics, especially in digital marketing, and this is where we tend to see people getting overwhelmed. But before your mind starts spinning, let’s talk about…  

Creating your tactical marketing plan  

Which tactics should you choose? How do you know what will work? What should you spend your marketing budget, time, and efforts on? To determine the most effective tactics, start by thinking about:

1.Your ideal customer:

Knowing exactly who you are speaking to will help you determine which tactics to use because you’ll know where they are and how you can reach them. To learn more about identifying your ideal customer, check out our blog post: Identify Your Ideal Customer by Answering These Four Questions 

2. Your customer journey:

There are four phases in most journeys: Awareness, Consideration, Conversion & Loyalty. Successful marketing tactics move your customer from discovering your company to considering your product / service as a solution to their problem to finally becoming a customer (and hopefully brand advocate). So it’s important to know which phase of the customer journey you are focusing on:

  • If your customer is in the Awareness phase, you will likely want to increase your reach with your ideal customer and get in front of more eyeballs. So a good tactic to use would be organic social content, educational blog content, etc.
  • If your customer is in the Consideration phase, then you’re going to want to ensure your site content answers all the questions they might have so that they can easily move to the convert phase. So here, the “tactic” is simply your website itself.

3. Your marketing budget:

While traditional marketing channels come with a higher price tag, digital tactics can fit all budgets. If you’re working with a minimal spend, stick to one or two channels and one product / goal. This will make your spending go further.

To save time and money choosing the right digital marketing tactics for your business, download our free Menu of Marketing Tactics.

We’ll help you understand your goals, budget and segments even further and walk you through how to target your audience online effectively. 

Arm and Hammer’s marketing strategy

Two hundred years in the making

One of the best examples of using effective marketing tactics comes from the creators of a little yellow box you probably have in your pantry, fridge or laundry room. For over two centuries, Arm & Hammer’s Baking Soda has been a household name, and here’s why. 

Not so long ago, in the era of poodle skirts and full-time homemakers, Arm & Hammer’s target audience/customer was the women of the house, who subsequently did a lot of baking. They already had a loyal following, dating back to the 1860s and had a boost in sales in the 1930s from publishing dessert cookbooks and recipes that could only be made with their product (hello, content marketing).

But anyone who has done a little bit of baking – or attempted to – knows that most recipes only use a tiny amount of baking soda. That, coupled with the long shelf life, was not exactly creating an urgent need to buy.

Fast forward a few years; society evolves, changing the average household dynamic and how products are marketed to consumers. Now, Arm & Hammer could have quietly faded away, but instead, they changed their strategy to coincide with the changes happening in society to stay a household name.

Their goal was to generate more sales by generating demand in new ways.

Their strategy would reposition the product as an eco-friendly and chemical-free cleaning solution, in addition to encouraging new (and more frequent) uses of the product. This new strategy then turned into fresh marketing tactics (pun intended).

  • Arm & Hammer created a small cardboard wheel, the “Dial to Easier Living,” that had instructions for all the different ways you could use their product (seriously, what a good idea!) 
  • They marketed baking soda to keep food fresh in the fridge but also suggested another box for the freezer and recommended that a new box be purchased every 30 days (this is what we call demand generation!)
  • They added baking soda to laundry detergent and toothpaste, marketing it as an eco-friendly or chemical-free cleaning solution.

This is how you keep a brand relevant for nearly two centuries. 

Now we understand that you might not be selling a product or a packaged good, but the message still stands. Evolve your strategy to stay current and aligned with your goals, and utilize effective tactics to support and execute your strategy.  

You might not have two hundred years of marketing experience, so we are going to help you out…


Build Your Dream Business: Get Clear on Your Goals, Strategy & Tactics


The days of questioning your marketing tactics, losing sight of your goals and delivering low converting content are OVER! Achieve all your business goals with our step-by-step, fool-proof business strategy & tactical planning toolkit. 

The Business Booster Blueprint will help you:

  • Set clear business goals – then crush them! Whether that means growing your business, sales, leads, engagement, or all of the above… it’s all about intentional planning
  • Get clear on your ideal customer, their needs, challenges and desires, and build out a customer profile, so you know exactly who you’re speaking to and how to reach them
  • Map out your customer journey and create content that answers all your ideal customer’s burning questions, which leads to increased website traffic and higher conversion rates
  • Craft a quarterly business strategy that translates into a monthly tactical plan, so you have clear to-dos to intentionally build your dream business
  • Focus your time and energy where it will drive business results, giving you more time and freedom as you achieve your financial goals

There’s nothing more motivating than creating a plan, sticking to it, and realizing just how much you are capable of!