Many clients and business professionals I speak with often confuse the two and regard nearly everything they do as strategic – well it sounds more professional for a start. But dig a little deeper and businesses rarely utilise a strategic marketing approach.
There is a considerable risk in the tactical approach.
Running a business from a tactical perspective always means that you are chasing one marketing campaign and launching straight into the next one. When I was launching a service provider into the health sector I came into the role of Marketing Director and found that their marketing department was very busy being tactical with no overarching strategy. There was no reason for many of the tools that were being employed other than to “be seen by our customers and maybe we’ll get a few sales”.
So the company had gone from one conference or trade show to the next trying to showcase their service. Short term the tactical marketing strategy had a limited success. A handful of leads were generated and of that a small percentage converted.
The strategic approach
Now I’m not saying that what I did was brilliant or even clever, as someone who has always got to the route of a problem quickly we discovered that by the nature of the tactical approach the customer leads that were being generated were next to useless. Here’s why.
In the National Health Service staff change roles and responsibilities frequently. The single biggest problem with the marketing tactics that were being employed was that it targeted individuals that were only usually in their role for one year. This was significant because it meant that each year the sales team had to go out and start the sales process all over again with brand new prospects who had never heard of our organisation before.
First thing I did was identify the target decision makers in each area of the country and started to build a marketing campaign around the existing relationships that we had and leveraging that for strategic referrals and relationship building. Recognising that resources were limited I approached a company who was in a similar space with a complimentary service and formed a joint venture. This meant that they were also marketing our product in front of the customer even when we weren’t there. I called it a pincer movement.
By embedding our service into the heart of the appropriate NHS service at a strategic level the company saw a rise in profits from £48k in year one (at which point I was brought in) to £3.4million by year 3.
I’m pleased to say that we were able to do this at a time when the NHS was being completely reorganised with a reduction in spend of up to 50% in the areas that the company was working with.
My advice would be that by focusing on tactics you will only ever achieve the level of success that tactics will bring.
A strategic perspective in your approach will bring the rewards you really are aspiring for.