“Is this a strategy or a tactic?”


It’s fair to say when you find yourself working in the digital advertising world, you’re going to find yourself doing a lot of, well, “doing.”

We live in a day and age that calls upon businesses to do everything. You have to post on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter—and make sure you have ads up on Google, Instagram, Facebook, Taboola—the list goes on and on. And I’m here to tell you, as a strategist, when everyone is asking for every platform in the book, you need to take a deep breath and ask everyone’s favorite question – but, why?

Why ask why?

A great digital marketing campaign grows from a great business strategy. Period. And tactics that are typically asked of digital strategists aren’t always rooted in great strategy. In order to help you successfully navigate the world of strategy vs. tactics, we’ve made this fun(ish) little quiz to guide you through. Let us begin.


“Let’s do a Facebook ad.” Strategy or tactic?

Tactic. This is a pretty straightforward one. Suggesting a particular course of action on a platform is a tactical decision. When this comes up in the planning stages of a campaign, ask why they think this channel is a good fit to get at the heart of the business goal. An example could be, “I know you want to run a Facebook ad about your greenhouse, but what business goal are you looking to achieve through this ad?”

“Let’s do Google search campaigns around our hero products.” Strategy or tactic?

This is a tactic, folks. Tossed some extra words in to trip you up. The strategy in this scenario is centered around the decision to focus on hero products. The tactical execution is playing to win on this strategy by going with Google Search.

“We need to get on Twitter.” Strategy or tactic?

Tactic. You may think it’s a strategy, but this is a tactic. The strategy for a campaign of this kind would be,Let’s go where our target customer is likely to engage. Research shows, our audience retweets and favorites content associated with the agricultural industry. Promoting our whitepaper ‘Tractors are Good,’ on Twitter is the social channel with the most conversion potential.”

“Let’s close our sales gap by using existing content around a parallel product.” Strategy or tactic?

Strategy! It solves a business problem (sales gap), it’s clear on how to execute (use existing content), and it leaves room for tactical exploration. The partnering tactic in this example could be serving an ad for an “Is your potting soil supporting your plants?” downloadable guide on Facebook after someone has bought a planter off of your website. It leverages a piece of content you have that helps inspire people to look into purchasing your soil after they’ve bought a planter.

**blog break** I bought plants at Home Depot this weekend which is why this blog is now ~plant themed~

“We need to remind our customers that our ferns are buy-one-get-one half off.” Strategy or tactic?

Strategy. This business has a lot of ferns and is trying to move some ferns fast, and they know the best way to get the ferns off their hands is to push this BOGO fern message out everywhere. The decision to put the ferns on blast helps solve the problem of moving ferns, and the strategy is easy to execute. Google Display, Facebook, Google Search, and YouTube could all be great tactics to help sell those damn ferns.

“We need to do emails better.” Strategy or tactic?

This is neither kids. Saying “let’s do this better” doesn’t really help solve a business problem or create tactical opportunities. A great strategy is clear and easy to execute, like “we need to put our ‘Green Thumb Weekly’ content out in front of our customer base more regularly.” A great tactic is measurable and drives to the strategy “let’s set up an email campaign using the ‘Green Thumb Weekly,’ and add customers to our marketing automation when they checkout.”


How did you do? 6/6? I knew you’d get them all right, you smartie.

And if you didn’t get all 6, take some time to reflect on your own projects. What strategies are driving the tactics you’re currently running? Do you see some opportunity to help better solve your client’s goals? Thanks for reading, and remember, ferns are buy one get one 50% off.