The Crucial Role of Strategy


Truth be told, about twice a year I double down on this issue and get a bit soapboxy. This spring I thought I’d give all my friends and family a break and write about it instead of bringing it up at family dinners.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the excitement of tactics—the allure of digital newsletters, the frequency of social media posts, and the creativity of advertising campaigns. However, diving into these activities without a solid strategic foundation is similar to deciding to drive across the country without a map, GPS, or your trusty iPhone. Strategy is not just another layer of marketing; it is essential. The map, so to speak that makes your marketing efforts relevant and meaningful, no matter your industry or audience.

Understanding Strategy vs. Tactics

So what is it that I double down on? Making sure clients, prospects, colleagues and friends understand the difference between strategy and tactics. Together they often get intertwined in the rush to see tangible results. Strategy is the ‘What’ and ‘Why’ of your marketing efforts—it defines what you hope to achieve and why those goals are important. It’s your overarching objective, the guiding star of all your marketing endeavors. Tactics, on the other hand, are the ‘How.’ They are the tools and actions—like newsletters, social media posts, or advertising—that you employ to reach your strategic goals.

Imagine strategy as the blueprint of a house; it dictates the structure, design, and functionality. Tactics are the construction materials and techniques used to build the house according to that blueprint. Without the blueprint, you might end up with a structure, but one that possibly misses key elements like a solid foundation or functional bathrooms.

The Pitfalls of a Tactic-First Approach

Many businesses fall into the trap of a tactic-first approach. In initial consultations, the conversation often steers towards the frequency of digital newsletters or the number of weekly social media posts. While these are important, they lack impact without understanding what they are meant to achieve. For example, increasing your social media activity is a tactic, but if it’s not aligned with a strategy aimed at enhancing customer engagement or building brand awareness, and if those are not aligned with your end goals for the growth of your business, it may not contribute meaningfully to your business objectives.

Crafting a Winning Strategy

So, how do you craft a strategy that ensures your marketing tactics have the maximum impact? Start with clear, measurable goals. What do you want to achieve for your business through your marketing efforts? Is it increasing brand awareness, generating leads, or enhancing customer loyalty? Once your goals are set, develop a strategy that aligns with them. This strategy should not only specify what you aim to achieve but also why these objectives are crucial for your business growth.

Strategy Empowers Tactics

While tactics are essential as they represent the actions and processes of your marketing efforts, they should not be confused with strategy. Without a well-defined strategy, tactics can become disjointed and ineffective. Remember, the real value in marketing lies not just in completing various tactics but in achieving strategic goals through these tactics. By focusing first on your strategic ‘What’ and ‘Why,’ you ensure that the ‘How’ has a clear direction and purpose, making your marketing efforts not just active, but impactful and relevant to your business.

Want to talk strategy? Shoot me an email or give me a call. It’s one of my favorite activities! ~Elizabeth