Marketing Strategy Before Tactics

By Brandee Johnson


I regularly talk to clients who are eager to get started on their marketing efforts. During our first consultation, they are already anticipating the email campaign, social media posts or other actions we will take to help them earn brand recognition, generate leads or simply build up their businesses. But, it’s important that we slow the process down and get to the really important matters, instead of allowing our tactical planning to get ahead of strategy.

There are four main components that every business owner should identify prior to establishing
any sort of marketing plan. It’s a roadmap, of sorts, for a long journey.

Compare it to a road trip:

For a road trip, you know you have to have a vehicle, fuel and money. (These could be the tactics you’ll use to get to your destination.) But, having these things doesn’t mean that your road trip will be successful. To get anywhere, you have to know where you’re going. You have to establish an end point...or a goal. And, depending on that goal (or destination), the tools you need to get there may vary greatly.

Start with the “WHY”

The first component I tell clients we have to identify is their “why.” This can be found by answering a few questions:

  • Why are you doing business?
  • Why did you start your services?
  • What do you and your company stand for?
  • What is your purpose?
  • What should customers’ end results be?

Once a client can answer the “why” of being in business, we have a good start. There are three key steps to writing your brand story- find them here

Define the “WHO”

Next, clients should isolate their target audience. To establish the audience we’ll talk about:

  • Who are you selling to?
  • Who do you want to sell to?
  • Who are the preferred customers who may be referring the business to other prospective customers?

Establishing a defined demographic for a customer/client base is necessary and it should be very specific. Business owners have to know who they are targeting with any marketing campaign.

Also at this stage, we’ll work with you to establish the staff culture and outlook.


I encourage clients to dig deeply into why customers choose them over competitors. To get to a deep understanding consider:

  • Do you provide a unique product?
  • Do customers choose you for reasons other than your products, such as customer service or added benefits?
  • What makes your business stand apart?

At this stage, I usually encourage clients to consider what their customers value -- this is what makes you different or unique.

For instance, there may be many grocery stores in a community. So, I would ask the store owner why his customers come there. Is it convenience? Service? Wide selection? Value? If you don’t know what you’re doing well, you’re missing out on opportunities to market what your true value is. 


Beginners Guide To Buyer Personas


Set your GOALS

The last step to establishing strategy is to determine what a client’s goals are for the marketing plan. Without identifying what you want to accomplish, it’s impossible to develop an effective means of action.

  • Are you looking to drive top of funnel leads, nurture leads into customers or increase bottom of funnel close rates?
  • Are you building brand recognition or awareness?

The goals will give direction to what tactics should be used.

In my 15 years in the marketing industry, I’ve seen many campaigns fail when they skipped past these four elemental concepts. They are the keys to successful, sustainable marketing efforts.



Topics: Digital Marketing

Brandee Johnson

Written by Brandee Johnson

Brandee Johnson is an avid marketing expert with a passion for helping businesses achieve growth through data-driven marketing programs. She believes in building marketing systems and starting with strategy before tactics.