What comes first, the strategy or the tactics?

Has anyone ever told you that you need a marketing strategy? Maybe people have also recommended various marketing tactics to you? Did it sometimes sound like they were talking about the same thing?

What exactly is the difference between your marketing strategy and your marketing tactics?

Do you need both? (Clue: Yes, you do.)

What comes first, the strategy or the tactics?

Are these questions as obvious as they sound?

To answer that last one: Well, yes, but once people start talking ‘marketing’, it’s not always clear what the answers are. So, to clarity…

Questions marks on post-it notes

Strategy, tactics, what’s the difference?

Put simply, the strategy is the big picture that tells you what you want to do. Tactics are actions that bring specific elements of that picture to life. Example time…

Think about building a house. No way would you just grab a few tools and materials and get started.
No, first of all, you draw up a plan, a blueprint for how your house is going to look. That blueprint shows you where the walls will be, the windows and doors, the layout of the plumbing and wiring, and so on.

Once you have the blueprint, it’s clearer what materials you need to buy (bricks, cement/mortar, roof tiles, damp proof course, wiring, etc.) And you can decide who will do the various tasks, and when (e.g. maybe you’re a dab hand with the bricklaying but for plumbing and wiring you need professional plumbers and electricians).

The blueprint is the strategy. It tells you what you’re aiming to build.

The materials, tools, people and techniques are the tactics that, taken together and in the right order, result in the house shown in the blueprints.

Without the blueprint, the plan, the walls might be built in the wrong place, the foundations might not be strong enough to support the structure, and maybe you forgot the central heating.

Luckily, marketing is nowhere near as hard as building a house. Often you can do it yourself, and unlike building your own house the results can be better if you do. In fact, as we say so often around here: marketing your coaching is like a journey – both for you and your potential clients.

In journey terms, the strategy is a route from A to B, from someone who is unaware they have an issue that coaching might be a solution, to a client who has decided your coaching ‘product’ is the one for them.

The tactics are the activities you undertake, the content you provide, the messages you send… to guide that person from one state to the other; from A to B, making the journey you’ve mapped out in your strategy.

Blueprint plans

Your marketing strategy can be simple

A lot of marketing advice is complicated. There’s talk of funnels, conversions, CRM and CTAs… This doesn’t feel right for a lot of coaches so they often skip the strategy and go straight to the tactics bit. And that’s understandable. A strategy sounds complicated, and all that jargon!

It’s tempting to choose a marketing tactic and go – at least you feel like you’re doing something. But that can be a) counterproductive, and b) unnecessary.

When we say you need a plan we mean a simple plan. In fact, we’ve made a 1-page marketing plan just for coaches to show you how simple this strategy or plan needs to be. Get your free 1-Page Coach’s Marketing Plan template.

Coach's Marketing Plan Guide

Where to start?

In just one page, you can lay out your ideal client, key marketing message, ‘product’ (your coaching process), and how you will connect with, nurture, invite and delight your clients.

Use the 1-page template to formulate your marketing strategy.

It’s divided into three stages: before, during and after your marketing engagement with (potential) clients. This enables you to identify the tactics you’re going to use, and when. (Our template plan comes with a step-by-step guide, plus a content creation kit full of marketing tactics and ideas to choose from).

Arrow skipping the obstacles

But… Can’t I just use some Ads and skip the strategy bit?

It’s definitely tempting to just throw a few tactics at the wall and see what sticks. Especially if those tactics come recommended as having worked for someone else. Or you go the other way and spend your time drafting more and more elaborate strategies only for them to gather dust because they’re too ambitious or daunting to implement.

In reality, you want to be somewhere in the middle: a simple and easy-to-implement strategy containing manageable tactics that get you and potential clients to where you need to be: together.

Strategy AND Tactics

Shift your focus from marketingspeak, from sales and conversions. Don’t blindly follow what other people tell you worked for them (if their tactics worked, it’s almost certainly as part of a coherent strategy!)

Use your plan to guide people on a journey that is easy to follow and makes sense to them. Use your marketing tactics to enable them to understand more about their current situation, where they want to be, and how you might support them getting there.

Download our super-simple 1-Page Coach’s Marketing Plan template and start planning your strategy and tactics for better, bolder and braver marketing that works for you.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the idea of making a plan and you’re looking for some support then we have created a community for coaches as a space for coaches to talk about marketing, collaborate and reflect on how the process is making them feel. You can take a look around and see if it’s for you with our 14-day free trial.

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