There is a big difference between a strategy and a tactic. Strategy is your overarching methodology for achieving a goal and guides your decisions about how to go after it. Those decisions are your tactics – the tools and activities you employ to make progress against your ultimate objective, and can be quite varied depending on what you are undertaking. So, where does online video fit? Is it a strategy, or, is it a tactic?


If online video is your strategy, then it is your living, breathing product marketing ecosystem. In this case, video is not only used for marketing, but it is also your product, or at least part of it. You center key business decisions around the ability to generate more video content, which helps sell your existing videos, and that you can leverage in new video products, and so forth.

Take for example, a professional services firm that sells online training courses. Video is the main component of their product, and there are supplemental PDFs and presentations for their video program. To market their courses, the firm seeds snippets of their best ideas on Youtube, social media, and actively participates in online forums for small businesses. They also implement video in their email marketing campaigns, and use it to improve their onsite SEO and search rankings. Those shorter versions of their videos are used for lead generation, helping to grow the firm’s email list. Any webinars, conferences, or speaking engagements for their in-house experts are recorded, edited, and repackaged as fresh material for their online marketing videos and training products. This is an inherently scalable product marketing cycle for a professional services firm. When you treat online video as your strategy, it is seemingly self-perpetuating, and guides nearly every step your business takes.


Video as a tactic is a very different beast. It is part of your brand-building arsenal rather than your raison d’etre. So what does that look like? Taking another example, an online clothing retailer trying to increase conversion rates in a highly competitive market will use video in a very different way than our imaginary professional services firm. For retailers, you generally have two choices: be the low cost option in the market, like Forever21, Old Navy or H&M, or be differentiated, like Club Monaco, J Crew, or All Saints. In either case (though somewhat less so for differentiated players), you are fighting for every dollar, and each notch in conversion rates makes a big difference. Online video is one of your best tactics because it has been shown to increase online shopper confidence by 57%, and Zappos found it increased conversions by anywhere from 6% to 30%.

In this illustration, our retailer might not use video in its email marketing campaigns or to grow its email list because leads are less important than for a professional services firm. However, the retailer might use it for building its brand on social media, and will definitely want to post it on product pages to improve shopper confidence, basket size and conversion rates. Since producing video is not the retailer’s main goal, it is a tactic employed to further its strategy of selling more clothes to more women.

Are you using video as a tactic, or as a strategy? Tell us about it in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter!