Simply stated, a marketing strategy is the high level approach that you plan to use to achieve your objectives.
THE WORD STRATEGY COMES FROM THE GREEK WORD STRATĒGIA, MEANING "ART OF THE TROOP LEADER, GENERALSHIP" - WHICH EXPLAINS ALL THE MILITARY ANALOGIES IN STRATEGY BOOKS.
A strategy is tightly connected to your objectives, but it is important to note that you can choose different strategies to achieve the same goal.
For example, if your marketing objective is to “develop $1M in pipeline from mid-market tech companies”, your strategy might be: “Use targeted digital marketing to generate leads that are qualified by an inside sales team”. Another strategy to achieve that objective could be: “Leverage account based marketing to build opportunities within a named account list”.
Both approaches, while very different, may be completely valid for your target market. You might even use a combination of these approaches to achieve your objective.
It is important that your entire team is aligned to the strategy. For example, if you use the digital marketing approach, you need to make sure you have the appropriate inside sales resources and tools from product marketing to respond to the leads that will be created. You may need to pick just one strategy to conserve resources.
You can also define strategies at different levels. The examples above are strategies designed to achieve a specific marketing objective, but they can also be applied to your overall marketing plan.
HubSpot is a great example of a company that has a well defined, unifying marketing strategy. They leveraged content marketing to define a category of marketing they called Inbound Marketing. While they employ a wide variety of marketing tactics, they all fit nicely into their overarching content marketing strategy.
A comprehensive marketing plan will have an overarching strategy with compatible strategies to achieve the key marketing objectives in your plan.
Learn more about marketing plans in What are the Key Attributes in a Contemporary Marketing Plan?