Difference between marketing strategy and tactics


It is sometimes confusing distinguishing between strategies and tactics as they refer to interdependent aspects of marketing activities. Basically, strategy refers to major decisions that impact the competitive position of a firm, whereas tactics are the activities that support and deliver the strategy.

As an example, one aspect of a firm’s strategy could be to build strong brand equity. In this case, its supporting tactics would include TV advertising, social media involvement, in-store point-of-sale material, and publicity.

Definitions of strategy and tactics

Strategy is often thought of as how to the organization will compete in the marketplace. That is, how will it offer customer value and differentiate itself against competitor offerings. Therefore, a suitable definition of strategy is:

Marketing strategy is the development of a related program of marketing mix activities that leverages and builds a firm’s competitive advantages, in order to achieve their stated goals, through enhancing customer satisfaction and exploiting market opportunities.

If you look at the beginning words of this definition of marketing strategy (that is, “the development of a related program of marketing mix activities”) you will see that it is actually referring to tactics. The various marketing mix activities are tactics that the firm uses to implement its strategy.

Therefore, tactics can be defined as:

Tactics are individual marketing mix decisions that, when effectively integrated, implement the strategy for a firm.

You will note that this tactics definition also refers to strategy, as they are utilized together; strategy sets the framework and tactics drive the implementation.

Difference between marketing strategy and tactics

In the following table a series of possible marketing strategies are presented along with the tactics that could be used to implement that strategy. What is important to note is the difference between the strategy and the tactic – strategies are more general and top-level, whereas tactics are more precise and are at a more detailed level.

Possible Strategy = Strong Customer Relationships

Supporting Tactics

  • Staff recruitment and training
  • Loyalty programs
  • Special/exclusive offers
  • Customer ‘club’ or special facilities
  • Regular communication


Possible Strategy = Intensive Retail Coverage (Being in many retail stores and having good in-store placement)

Supporting Tactics

  • Trade promotions (deals, discounts)
  • Sales force (training, commissions)
  • Retailer relationships
  • Point-of-sale (POS) materials
  • Logistics (reliable supply)

Possible Strategy = Strong Brand Equity

Supporting Tactics

  • TV advertising
  • Social media activities
  • Sponsorships
  • Quality product range
  • Selective retailer exposure

Possible Strategy = Low Price Competitor

Supporting Tactics

  • Low cost corporate culture
  • Supplier relationships (good deals)
  • Efficient production and logistics
  • Economies of scale (large operations)
  • Low cost premises and staff
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