A fine-tuned Marketing Machine is run in a way that allows for both reactive and proactive marketing strategies – as it should be.

Marketing teams of any size are tasked with a variety of “things to accomplish” – research, planning, analysis, branding, positioning, content creation, digital ad buying, the list goes on and on and on…..

A marketing team plays a vital role in a business by developing and implementing strategies to promote products or services, engage with customers, and ultimately drive sales and brand growth. And a Marketing (team) Machine needs to understand when it’s the right time to be proactive and when it’s the right time to be reactive in their marketing approach.

Reactive and proactive marketing are two distinct approaches to marketing that organizations use to address opportunities and challenges in their respective markets. Here are the key differences between these two approaches when it comes to 5 critical components of any marketing strategy: timing, initiation, decision-making, approach, and overall innovation within a marketing team and an organization overall.

1. Timing:

  • Reactive Marketing: This approach is responsive in nature. It involves reacting to events, trends, or situations that have already occurred. Organizations employing reactive marketing respond to customer feedback, market changes, or competitive pressures after they’ve happened. This is necessary in relation to PR and to unexpected outcomes of sales or marketing initiatives.
  • Proactive Marketing: Proactive marketing, on the other hand, is forward-thinking. It involves anticipating potential opportunities or challenges and taking actions in advance to influence outcomes. Organizations using proactive marketing are often planning and acting before specific events occur. This is necessary to show thought leadership, expertise, and to be known in the industry as an “influencer”. This kind of proactive approach to the timing of events is critical in building brand and subject matter expertise that long outlives the event, moment, or situation.

2. Initiation:

  • Reactive Marketing: This approach is initiated by external factors, such as customer complaints, market shifts, or competitive pressures. Organizations react to these external stimuli to address issues or seize opportunities. This can also become more apparent in sales organizations that don’t have a fine-tune or clearly outlined sales process. Reactive marketing like this feels like chasing a carrot on a string a lot – and while necessary, may not always be the best use of time. Preparation, communication and research done all the way up the organization can help mitigate this kind of reactive marketing.
  • Proactive Marketing: Proactive marketing is internally initiated. Organizations take the initiative to shape their strategies and actions based on their goals, long-term vision, and the evolving needs of their target audience. This is critical to allowing your marketing time to have more time to fine-tune messaging, research new markets, double-down on techniques and strategies that are working, and find ways to continue to push the brand and message forward. 

3. Decision-Making:

  • Reactive Marketing: Decisions in reactive marketing are made in response to specific triggers. These decisions are often more tactical and immediate in nature, focusing on addressing immediate issues. This again is necessary when required, but decisions and the marketing and sales roadmaps should already be established in order to remain consistent to both employees and you audience.
  • Proactive Marketing: Proactive marketing involves strategic decision-making. Organizations set long-term objectives, plan their marketing efforts, and make decisions that align with their overall vision and objectives. Partnering your sales and marketing teams as one Revenue Driving Team is a great way to group-think sales and marketing hurdles and gain buy-in that allows sales and marketing to work in lock-step and add to the bottom line of an organization.

4. Approach:

  • Reactive Marketing: This approach is often characterized by a “putting out fires” mentality. Organizations respond to problems and changes as they arise, which can lead to a more crisis-driven approach. Often times, tenured organizations are more prone to this – back when sales and marketing moved a little slower, you were able to take time and have a longer approach to marketing initiatives. This isn’t the case any more – businesses need to be moving quicker and studying more about their market and their competition to ensure they aren’t left behind! The right preparation goes a long way here.
  • Proactive Marketing: Proactive marketing involves a more strategic and preventive approach. Organizations actively seek opportunities and look for ways to stay ahead of the competition or address potential challenges before they become critical issues. This is the perfect way to incorporate subject matter expertise into your marketing and sales strategy. Getting your message out on all available and chosen platforms, seeking out opportunities to enter new markets, and so much more can help really create more proactive marketing situations and create lasting power.

5. Innovation:

  • Reactive Marketing: While reactive marketing can involve innovations in response to immediate needs, it may not foster a culture of innovation as strongly as proactive marketing. When creating reactive marketing strategies, you can stifle innovation and stunt growth in marketing and sales. 
  • Proactive Marketing: Proactive marketing encourages innovation and a culture of continuous improvement. Organizations that adopt this approach are more likely to seek new and creative solutions. Having the space and runway to create proactive and engaging strategies means innovation can happen more regularly and at a faster cadence. More time and brain space = more creativity!

A Marketing Machine should be operating more from a proactive and calculated space with reactive marketing strategies being decided and deployed when necessary. Working toward proactive marketing means have the right foundation (aka the marketing strategy!) and the space for your team to do the research and find the right way to continue to effectively talk to the audience while capturing the attention of a new audience to increase revenue.