Don’t feel dumb if you ask this question. We took a few weeks in my masters program at WVU to dive into this very question. In marketing, almost everything is squishy and this is probably the squishiest part.
I bopped around my favorite sites and didn’t find anyone with a really concrete definition of “strategy” vs “tactic” (even the dictionary is pretty ambiguous) so let’s work with this one:
A strategy is what you will do. A tactic is how you will do it. Sometimes I have to go through a few examples to get the distinction right. For example:
Strategy: Use online marketing communications to support current in-store promotions.
Tactic: Create calendar for regularly scheduled email campaigns with promotional messaging.
Tactic: Implement Facebook campaigns 2 weeks prior to store promotion.
Once you really know your key customer characteristics, your marketing strategies should be broad statements of the direction and goals you’ll choose to reach them. Your tactics are the activities that get the job done…the things that actually go on your to do list.
Now, in your version of marketing, what’s the definition of a strategy vs a tactic?