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  • Writer's picturePete Steege

Marketing Strategies vs. Tactics: Respect the Difference!

What do you call the marketing stuff that your business does? Are they campaigns, programs, initiatives, or tactics? Whatever it is that you call them is not really that important, but I do want to point out two kinds of groups of marketing, things that are going on in your business. It's important to understand the difference because it affects how you deliver them and how you measure their results.

First, let's talk about marketing. I'm gonna call it marketing. That's the higher-level things that you're doing. Hopefully, there's a marketing strategy and plan, even if it's informal, driving the overall marketing effort that you have underway, and it delivers its results based on the cumulative effect of all the things that you're doing related to marketing. And it has a sustained effort required. So you have to keep going with all of those things at the right time, in relation to each other and also marketing. This overall effect takes time to make a difference. It pays off over a long period of time.

Because of all that you need to measure, you might benefit from measuring marketing with a financial measure, like financial ROI (return on investment). That is harder to do than some other measurements you might do for marketing. It takes more work partly because it's dollars and cents. So you have to translate money that you're investing, into marketing, into the marketing things you're doing, and then back into results returned to get that number. That makes sense when you're looking at everything you're doing, because you've got this amount of money you're investing in a year or another period, and you've got this staff or vendor group that you're applying to that. So it's easier to roll that up and, you know, average out the results and see, "Is my marketing overall paying for itself?"

On the other side, you have your tactics. These are the discreet things you're doing. Some are big, some are small, but they are individual things that are targeted at a specific result and a specific audience, at a specific point in time, at a specific point in their journey. It's very much designed to do something at one point in time or for a short period of time. It's a means to an end. Tactics support that strategy we talked about before. They are helping you "do" the pieces that add up to that bigger result. The other thing about tactics is they are right on the ground. They are at the tip of the spear. They are often best measured with behavioral results.

So rather than trying to convert what you're doing with each tactic into some dollar value (sometimes you can if they're buying something), it's often easier to focus on measuring directly the behavior change that you achieve with your customer prospect. That makes a lot of sense because marketing at its essence is about changing the experience to change the behavior of your audience. This marketing ROI I'll call it can also be simple. It could be a pass/fail in some cases - it's as easy as that. Don't overcomplicate that measurement because you want to make sure that the piece you've put in place to do a certain something does that thing. And that may be enough. It's important not to over-invest in measurement because you'll get all wrapped around the axle with all of the work to measure things, which isn't really what you want to spend most of your time doing.

My advice to you is to match your metrics with what it is you are trying to measure. You'll save time and you'll get more actionable results in the end.

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