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Strategic Marketing
May 2, 2024 - By Corey Smith

Is Your Marketing As Strategic As You Think?

I’ve been in some form of marketing for the better part of my life. Yeah, I’m getting up there in years but I also started young. I sold newspapers door-to-door as a paperboy in the 80s. I ran a printing press when I was 16 in 1990. I worked for a radio station in the mid-90s. I started doing print and then web design beginning in the late 90s.

For me, some level of marketing has influenced the way I think and operate for as long as I can really remember.

In 2007, when I started my digital agency, Tribute Media, I had no idea where it would go. I definitely had high hopes, and it’s become more than I ever dreamed. I knew that I could provide some amazing services but still felt like I had a lot to learn (I still do). I have worked hard over the years to really understand how marketing works and, more importantly, how the different elements of marketing fit together.

Being able to join forces with Hawke Media last year has been amazing and I couldn’t be more grateful.

At Hawke, we know this concept of marketing elements working together as strategic marketing. Others might call it full-stack marketing. Whatever you call it, you probably understand one thing—employing all elements of marketing is critical to success. If you didn’t already know that, now you do; and your world is about to get a whole lot bigger and more complex.

When you are doing marketing properly, not only are you going to have different elements working together, but you’re going to need two different types of people doing the marketing as well. These two types of marketers are the “Tactical Marketer” and the “Strategic Marketer.” Rarely, you’ll find that a marketer can serve as both. However, you’ll find that, in these instances where you do find an all-in-one marketer, they still have a strong pull toward being one or the other. Let’s take a look at the differences and similarities between the tactical marketer and the strategic marketer.

The Tactical Marketer

Tactical marketing is the list of things that need to be done. It’s a list of performances. When someone is focused on sending emails, writing blog posts, posting on social media, setting up paid search, etc, they are tactically marketing.

When you hire an agency and their list of deliverables is their measure of success then they are tactically thinking. Here are some examples of what you might receive in a tactically driven contract with a marketing agency:

  • 4 emails per month
  • 6 blog posts per month
  • $10,000 per month in ad spend
  • 5 social media posts per week

Yes, those things are important. And, yes, you can be strategic in how you do those things (many marketers are not). However, most marketing is done very tactically, whether it’s done internally, outsourced to a solo operator, or sent to a marketing agency. Most people have a hard time thinking strategically about marketing, so they just use their checklist to make sure the list of deliverables are completed… irrespective of meeting the goals (if the goals are even defined).

Don’t get me wrong, tactical marketing (and tactically thinking about marketing) is a critical part of marketing. I’m a firm believer that Strategic Marketing Requires Tactical Understanding.

You just need a balance… the right balance.

If your measure of success is primarily tactical, then you are a tactical marketer.

The Strategic Marketer

The idea of strategic marketing is holistic. It’s designed to tie elements together. It’s not a bunch of individuals who are unique in their efforts trying to do their own part and hoping it fits together. Here are some examples of what you might receive in a strategically driven contract with a marketing agency:

  • 10 leads per month
  • Increase website conversions by X% each month
  • Increase of sales revenue by X% each week

I mentioned above that you can be strategic in performing tactics. If you have, for example, a social media campaign plan, you can strategically decide when to post and what to post. Even then, however, it’s still a tactically driven plan.

The true strategic marketer is focused on how things fit together to accomplish your key goals. This marketer will focus on how the campaign strategy ties many elements together. Some agencies who are good at this call it multi-channel marketing.

Most strategic marketers will start with a key element of the campaign and build from there. They may start with a product sale and build search, social, and email components together to serve that common purpose. Or they may start with a content offer and drive traffic to that through blogging, social media, video, and paid search.

If your measure of success is primarily results-driven, then you are more likely a strategic marketer.

Which Marketer Are You (or Which is Your Agency)?

Determining your focus will help you start to understand if you are tactically or strategically focused.

We need tactically focused marketers. We need those that understand how to write blog posts so that they appeal to people as well as search engines, or create social media content that effectively drives traffic to your website, or put together all of the elements that are needed for a successful paid search campaign.

We also need strategically focused marketers that know how to tie elements together to generate new leads, create sound content plans, and decide the right paid search campaigns to implement.

So the crux is that you need both. If you’re missing the strategic marketing mind on your team, then you need to fill that gap to give your tactical efforts the best shot they can have. This balance is why Strategic Marketing/Full-stack marketing works.

Strategic Marketing + Tactical Marketing = An Effective, Cohesive Approach to Marketing


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Corey Smith
In 2007, I founded Tribute Media, an agency dedicated to amazing web design and inbound marketing. In the years since, I've authored two books and helps 1000s of business grow online. In June 2024, Hawke Media purchased my agency and I'm proud to be a part of the Hawke Media family. As a Managing Director, my primary focus in on helping businesses grow through strategic marketing consulting. Want a consult? Drop a meeting on my calendar.