Wax Marketing Blog

Is that a strategy or a tactic?

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?





  1. Allan Camper Says :
    Posted on January 18, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    Hi! I usually get strategy and tactic interchanged and didn’t give it much thought. Glad you clarified them!

  2. prostate cancer treatment
    Posted on January 18, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    If you were to ask anyone, they probably wouldn’t know the difference. This is a really fresh article, just to clarify things up. Thanks for this!

    • bonnie Says :
      Posted on January 20, 2012 at 8:44 am

      Even the dictionary doesn’t make much distinction George. But in marketing it really matters.

  3. Holliday Vann@Cultural Commentary with a Bite Says :
    Posted on January 19, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    As a person who loves words, I could not resist getting in on this discussion. Funny thing is, I never thought about the difference between the two words. “Strategy” sounds like the steps taken after long consideration. “Tactics” has an air of desperation about it and also implies that the steps taken might even be illegal or immoral! Thanks for clarifying. Fun topic!

  4. urmah packages
    Posted on January 20, 2012 at 8:42 am

    Nice info. I will like to add one more thing that a strategy is relatively long-term in nature but this is not the case with a tactic and yes tactic is more practical in nature.

    • bonnie Says :
      Posted on January 20, 2012 at 8:43 am

      Good point about strategy being more long-term. What’s long-term in marketing these days, in your opinion?

  5. IT solutions and services Says :
    Posted on January 21, 2012 at 12:21 am

    A very good difference, often my team manager use to tell, “come out with new strategy”, now you clearly defined the difference between strategy and tactic.Thanks a lot

  6. Gil@free traffic
    Posted on January 22, 2012 at 11:20 am

    Wow I bet most people will have a headache on this. I usually use them both in the same way. But when you think of it,
    It’s this for me:
    strategy – used more in businesses or marketing
    tactic – used more in military or games

    • bonnie Says :
      Posted on January 22, 2012 at 11:39 am

      It is headache-y I agree. But do you think of the words “strategic” and “tactical” as being synonymous too?

  7. Website Strategy
    Posted on January 23, 2012 at 3:32 am

    Excellent post on an often confused subject. This article provides its Marketing Strategy vs. Tactics. It is important to actually figure out how compatible a subject is for a certain social media channel. Really like the way you’ve used examples to explain.

  8. Umrah packages
    Posted on January 23, 2012 at 5:03 am

    The best way to work out is to first make a strategy and then follow tactics to implement this strategy.

  9. Caribbean Medical Schools Says :
    Posted on January 25, 2012 at 1:14 am

    Excellent post and good advice for any sort of blogger.

  10. Monique Says :
    Posted on January 31, 2012 at 3:05 am

    Thank you for the post and a nice example 🙂 Tactics is just what you do to implement your strategy, given the latter is directed into the far future 🙂

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