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Tactical marketing refers to the medium or context in which marketing takes place, rather than the actual content of a marketing message. Print advertisements, online interactive advertising campaigns, and product placement in film or television are all examples of the tactical aspect of marketing, rather than the strategic side of marketing, which governs the content of a message. Tactical advertising often takes place once a strategy is formed and in place, since it deals with the actual execution of an overall marketing plan.
It is often easiest to explain tactical marketing by contrasting it with strategic marketing. Strategic marketing essentially involves the content of a marketing strategy and message. “What” is being said in a marketing campaign, “who” it is targeting, and “how” it has been constructed to effectively appeal to that segment are all aspects of strategic marketing. Tactical marketing, on the other hand, involves the context of the message. When advertisements are placed in magazines, on Internet websites, or within a film, then the magazines, websites, and film are all considered aspects of the tactical nature of the marketing plan.
Tactical marketing is often approached as the means by which a marketing strategy is executed. If marketing research indicates that teenagers may be more likely to be interested in a particular product, for example, then the tactical aspect of marketing involves finding contexts that would reach that audience. An advertising campaign may be designed around strategic considerations, with print layouts and language that appeals to a certain market segment, but such considerations may be useless without effective tactical approaches. Since tactical advertising involves the way in which a message is ultimately relayed, a lack of tactical considerations may render a well-crafted message obsolete since it never effectively reaches the target audience.
There are a number of ways in which tactical marketing can be considered and executed during an advertising or marketing campaign. Letters may be sent in the mail to local businesses or residents to notify them about a new business or service that is becoming available in their area. The use of letters and mailers themselves make up the tactical side of such a marketing campaign, while the content on the letters is the strategic side of the campaign. Proper execution of both strategic and tactical marketing is essential to a strong campaign, since the message of the campaign must be well-crafted and delivered in a way that reaches the target consumer base.