Marketers: Tactical Is the New Strategic

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Written by Digital Surgeons,
• 2 min read

One of my frustrations in working with marketing professionals is how often they say “tactical” like it’s a dirty word.

I understand where it’s coming from. It’s not easy to make your way to the C-suite much less keep yourself there. It’s a complicated job even before you consider pressure from shareholders, colleagues and the general public.

CMOs work hard to achieve their position, but, as the CMO Impact Study published last year shows, in many companies their C-suite colleagues don’t see them as real business peers, and their CEOs have doubts about the value they contribute. So ambitious marketing leaders need to establish themselves as strategic thinkers who can see around corners.

Meanwhile, brand managers and up and coming marketers looking ahead in their career see what’s happening and naturally want to be seen as visionary thinkers also. They calculate that they won’t have a reputation for strategy if their energy is spent on tactics.

It’s also true that much of the tactical side of marketing, like media programming, has been frowned upon and seen as commoditized. It’s possible to do so much at scale now that it’s tempting to use what I call check-the-box marketing. Do we have all the social media outposts? An influencer program? A content creation program? Check, check, check. But that approach is not authentic, not organic and will not unearth opportunities for innovation.

The problem with keeping tactical concerns at arm’s length is that dramatic transformations are taking place because of new digital technologies and business models, and they make a mockery of the difference between strategy and tactics. Anyone who says “tactical” like it’s a dirty word isn’t speaking the language of tomorrow’s business.