The difference between strategy and tactics in B2B marketing

Alain Thériault – February 2, 2017
This article is a modified republishing of Exo B2B’s number 5 blog post of 2016
Let’s start with strategy. The marketing strategy supports and helps achieve a good part of the corporate strategy.
Whether it be internal, such as improving employer brand, or externally like deciding to conquer a new market, marketing strategy is how one will go about achieving the company vision. This is a long-term endeavor and you have to make the right choices along the way. Continually adjustment is necessary in order to maintain course. That’s why the marketing strategy needs to be reviewed annually to realign, if necessary.  It must match the intentions of the CEO or the Board of Directors.
That said, the ease with which companies now have access to a wealth of information brings about dramatic changes in strategies. New business models inspired by rapidly changing technologies force us to adapt our marketing.

tactics are framed by the mission, which is the “Why we do what we do.” So, do it right! Corrections must be prompt. We are in the small data category, which must not be forgotten. These tactics will be accomplished by performing a series of very precise actions. Tactics are confronted with reality in the field. If the intention is to conquer Rome, we know that several paths lead to it …

Now let’s have a closer look at the difference between strategy and tactics

Find the error in this statement: “Our strategy for next year will be to do more trade shows.”

Strategy or tactic?

In simpler terms :

Tactic : do things correctly (actions)

Strategy : do the right thing (intentions)

All that is tangible, visible and concrete are tactics. This is why it’s easy to fall into the trap of confusing strategy with tactics.

Therefore, participation in trade shows is tactical as it concerns implementation.

The strategy and intention would be to develop a new geographic area or a new market for a product or service.

The strategy should then be expressed as follows: “Our strategy this year is to expand into new geographic territories with our new product.”

Interdependence of strategy and tactics

Strategy is not worth much if tactical marketing and sales do not materialize it.

Let’s have a look at the relationship between the two and the pitfalls of being effective at only one of them. The following table shows the result according to the combination.

Strategy vs tactic table Exo B2B

differentiating strategy and tactics

Many put their efforts in a so-called “strategic” plan, as they engage in the development of tactics and an implementation schedule.

Before starting a tactic, we must ask ourselves whether this tactics supports the strategy and how? Here are some questions to ask in the context of attending a trade show …

  • Why invest in trade show participation?
  • Why direct marketing or inbound marketing?
  • What performance indicators will you use to measure your efforts?
  • Will these initiatives serve the strategy?
  • Which strategy to use?
  • What is my SMART objective for this tactic?

#1 : Develop a strategy

Developing a strategy is to:

  1. Make choices
    According to the business objectives set, you must choose what you will or will not do, depending on the objectives. Focus.
  2. Improve its chances of success
    Perfection doesn’t exist. Generate the best strategy you can and continually refine it.
  3. Combine rigor and creativity
    We must think outside the box and rely on data. We must continually make assumptions supported by evidence and put them to the test. Do marketing research if necessary.

Take a step back

Before you jump into a tactical schedule and call it a strategy, step back and ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What is the ultimate objective?
    Avoid generalities such as “increased sales”. Be specific. Here are some examples:


  2. What elements will guide you with regards to which actions to take?
    Do you have in hand, the results of a market research to justify an approach to the U.S. market? Does the Ontario market have the potential to absorb 2 times more units?
  3. What is the buying behavior?
    By what means do your buyers and decision makers seek your products and services?

Other issues must also be addressed. Consult our guide on the subject.


Doing things right is important (tactical). Doing the right things (strategy) has even more importance, even if it is not perfect.

During your next annual planning session, know when to step back and see the difference between strategy and tactics. And if you need help, we’re right there for you 😉


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