Proactive and Reactive Marketing Strategies: What They Are and When to Use Them

Is your marketing strategy proactive or reactive? If you don’t know, you should. Both approaches play an essential role in your success.

Do you feel like you are always in “break-fix” mode with your content? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be a step ahead and know your investment is paying off?

I’ve got your back. This article will define both strategies, the importance of using both, and when you should use them.

What is a proactive marketing strategy?

Proactive marketing is agile, data-driven, and adaptable. Research provides insight about what’s happening with competitors and in the industry.  This shapes the path your marketing takes before the campaign is generated. You adjust the campaign in real-time instead of waiting to see the end results.

Characteristics of proactivity:

Future-oriented: a long-term focus, anticipate future events, poised to act, and shape the market.

Taking the initiative: in-depth market research, adapting to customer intelligence, and creating new opportunities.

Driving Change: find latent, unarticulated needs, anticipate future needs, and estimate how needs evolve.

What does it look like when you implement a proactive strategy?

  • You have a great understanding of your readers and competition.
  • You chart your data and adjust the campaign as needed.
  • External and internal factors that may affect the business are considered as well as data.
  • Key messages are refined to address current and predicted marketplace events

There are three proactive strategic categories of focus: customer, competition, and innovation.

Your customers want you to solve problems for them. Proactive, customer-focused content will show your customers that you understand their struggles and have solutions.

Your potential clients are looking at your competition, so you should be too. Integrate content that answers the question, “Why should I spend my money with you instead of them?” If you can answer this question before they ask it (proactively), you move them further down the sales funnel.

Most of your proactive content will focus on why you are the best fit for the potential customer. Innovation-focused content is used to introduce and educate on products, services, or new industry discoveries. image

What is a reactive marketing strategy?

Reactive marketing is just that – reactive. Your content will be developed in response to something unforeseen. The problem exists, and you need to provide a solution.

Characteristics of reactivity:

  • Provide information: updates, crisis management, respond to customer actions, industry and company changes.
  • Strengthen trust: meets immediate needs, reassures you have the situation under control, relevant to your audience.
  • Coping with competition: new products, refuting a claim, provide a better solution.

Reactive marketing efforts will depend on what you are reacting to.

In a crisis, you need to react quickly and accurately. If you want people to turn to you in their moment of need, you must provide information when they need it.


If there is an industry change or discovery, provide insight into what is happening, why, and how you address it.


Company announcements are reactive. When you announce a new product, price, or hire, you want to get it out to everyone. The news may influence your proactive content, but the announcement is reactive.


Fun posts about things like National Ice Cream Day are reactive. You are reacting to something that has happened or is happening. Make sure that the post fits your audience. These reactive posts show you are real and enjoy sharing fun moments. Check out this calendar full of “holidays” to use in posts. 


What does it look like when you implement a reactive strategy?

  • Your message changes as the situation changes.
  • Data evaluation happens after the campaign to see the response.
  • When competitors act, you react.


Which strategy should I use?

Being proactive is a crucial step of your marketing plan; however, there are situations when being reactive is the best tactic. Simply put, you need both.

How do you optimize your marketing plan by including both strategies?

Look at your content and figure out which strategy you are using now and how it is performing. This information will help you see your weak spots. Then, develop your proactive approach for all three orientations, including your timeline and sales stages.

You also need to be proactive in preparing your reactive content. What? You won’t know the specifics of your content until the event you are reacting to happens. However, you can prepare generic responses that you can quickly customize to fit each situation.

For example, let’s say your business experiences a cybersecurity leak; how will you address it? First, organize the goals of the response and voice. In the cybersecurity example, you need to reassure your customers that they are safe and share what you are doing to prevent it from happening again. Next, save some keywords and phrases that match your brand.

When planning your budget, leave “reactive strategy” funds for when you need them.

Using both reactive and proactive strategies, you are addressing needs happening now and influencing what happens next. Once you have your plan, you need to implement it efficiently.

Whichever strategy you apply, remember to follow best practices for keywords, SEO, audience, platform, etc.

Use Missinglettr to schedule proactive campaigns that drip out over 12+ months as well as one-off posts as they come up. Learn more about how experts use Missinglettr to support their marketing strategy.

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