At times I’ve found myself saying, “these are tactics in search of a strategy” in response to requests from colleagues. Those requests included “we need videos,” “let’s add more pages to the website,” and “we should send more emails.”

First let’s define what I’m talking about:

  • Marketing Strategy – the overall plan or approach to deliver against the goal. This is inclusive of the value proposition, competitive analysis, key messaging, and target audience details. You need to understand your sales funnel and define your marketing objectives.
  • Tactics – the activities, or ways, to deliver against the strategy and are one element of a marketing plan.

Why do people generate tactics rather than strategies? It’s easier. It might be more fun. If you aren’t a marketer you might not understand the difference. Or you might not see the need for a strategy when your competitor is outselling you and you need something fast.

The worst thing I did as a child was throwing wet paper towels up at the ceiling of the pool’s changing room. I stuck around to see if it stayed up there – fun. And if it fell flat, I grabbed the evidence and threw it away. But did I worry about who did the clean up on the new ceiling art? No. Using tactics without a strategy is like that – throwing up ideas – and walking away not knowing if it will stick or fall flat to the floor.

Who wants to throw away an opportunity for the sake of expediency? Who wants to waste budget and time cleaning up the mess of failure? When we work hard to become relevant to our customers, do you want to take the chance to become irrelevant when the competition is out there ready to take advantage of your misstep? I think not. So let’s all take the time to develop marketing strategies before tactics.

Wondering about what a marketing strategy is – take a look at this.

I’m curious about examples you’ve seen where tactics failed because of a lack of strategy. Let’s see what lessons we can learn from those.



Photo by: Amy E. Mikel. Szechenyi Thermal Bath, Budapest. June 2015.



Chan, Jonathan. No Plan = No Customers: How to Build a Profitable Marketing Strategy. Foundr. February 15, 2019.