Strategy is doing the right things. Tactics is doing things right.

One of the biggest and costliest mistakes many public sector organizations make is rolling out marketing communications tactics without a marketing strategy. Most organizations think marketing and immediately think tactics. But tactics without a strategy is a recipe for failure.

 “Great tactics will win you a battle, but great strategy is what wins you the war.”

A marketing strategy offers a high-level plan to achieve your goals and objectives.  It is a methodology, a train of thought that guides all future actions. The strategy is a platform upon which the tactics will rest.

In essence, the marketing strategy establishes the topological map. Once the topography has been defined, the tactics will create a road map.  The strategy sets the campaign direction and the tactics translate those ideas into reality. For this reason, strategy does not change very often, but tactics can (and do!). The strategy represents principles that will guide the tactical execution.

 Organizations don’t plan to fail … they fail to plan

Without a strategy, it’s easy for organizations to get caught up in chasing the latest marketing trends or switching tactics every week or month. Not only is that an exhausting way to do things, it also means you could be wasting time and money on tactics that will produce few results.

What happens when you develop and implement a marketing program without a strategy?

  • Lack of clear and consistent messaging. For marketing to be effective, you must create a consistent brand message. Without a strategy in place, it makes it much harder to determine compelling messages that will speak to your audience.
  • Difficulty achieving goals and objectives. In many cases, marketing programs don’t have well-defined goals and objectives. But, even if you do have specific goals and objectives, it will be difficult to accomplish them without a marketing strategy. It takes research, creativity and strategic thinking to build an effective strategy. Once you do your likelihood of success is that much greater.
  • Wasted budget. Without a marketing strategy, you could be wasting time and money on the wrong tactics. Taking the time to build a marketing strategy and tactical implementation plan on the front end will ensure your budget is being spent effectively.
  • Unfocused efforts. Marketing tactics should flow from your marketing strategy. It helps guide your decisions and makes it easier to determine where to spend your time and money. Without it, your efforts will be weak and unfocused. And, it’s a whole lot easier to get caught up in the marketing “tactic du jour”.

Strategy is as much about deciding what to do as it is what NOT to do.

So, how do you formulate a marketing strategy? Answer these three questions. If you don’t know the answers to these questions, you’re not ready to start implementing tactics:

1) Why do we do what we do?

Until you can get very clear about the overarching purpose for your government program, things will always seem a bit muddy. When you can grab onto your “why” you have the basis for every decision you make and a thread that can define your branding and positioning, which leads to marketing success.

2) Who do we do it for?

The tricky part about this one is that the answer should be as narrow as possible. If you nailed the first question, your job as a marketer is to go even narrower and start understanding who you want to reach. Look to your best clients. Find the commonality in this group and you should be able to develop a very narrow, ideal client profile that entails both physical description and ideal behaviour.

3) What do we do that’s both unique and remarkable?

The last piece of the puzzle is about what you do. It’s not simply about defining what products, programs and services you offer, but to find and communicate how what you do is unique in a way that your ideal client finds remarkable. That allows you to stand apart from everyone else that say they do the same things as you.

This isn’t as simple as it might sound. Most organizations don’t fully understand what their audience truly values. It’s not necessarily a better product or service. Those fall under the category of expectation and everyone can and usually claims them. The difference is in the details, the little things you do, the way you do it, how you treat your clients, how you make them feel. It’s in the surprises, the things that exceed their expectations.

To learn how to develop a successful public sector marketing strategy come join us in Ottawa on February 9 , 2017  One-Day Marketing 101 Workshop or contact Jim Mintz  at Office: 343-291-1137 Mobile: 613-298-4549  or

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