How to Develop a Tactical Marketing Plan

Think back to the last tactical marketing plan you developed for your company. Or, if you’re a business owner, recall the last tactical marketing plan presented to you. Did it take the form of a needless strategy document at a 30,000-foot-view of your industry, or at the other extreme, did it detail an unsystematic set of tactics to be executed?

The intent of a tactical marketing plan (TMP) is commonly misinterpreted, which has led to the creation of many disjointed plans over the years that miss the point for marketing managers and miss the mark for business executives.

What is Tactical Marketing?

Unlike its higher-level counterpart, strategic marketing, tactical marketing is about the specific tools and techniques your company will use to meet its goals. A tactical marketing plan breaks down those business goals into marketing objectives, then details the marketing strategies and tactics that will be used to achieve those objectives.

Business Goals -> Marketing Objectives -> Marketing Strategies -> Marketing Tactics

Use this guide to build and format your next tactical marketing plan.

Section 1: Your Business Goals & Situation Analysis

To start, conduct a situation analysis to determine where the most opportunity lies for your company. The information gleaned will be the input needed to form SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and trackable) marketing objectives. Situation analyses can vary in their structure and depth, but a good baseline situation analysis for your TMP will cover:

  • Business Goals
    The 1-year goals you have for your business such as revenue growth, service expansion and so forth
  • Current Clientele
    The general size and scope of agreements with your clients and how most of them were acquired
  • Industry Standing
    Your perception in the marketplace, including any highly marketable team members or accolades
  • Marketing Efforts
    Your previous or current marketing efforts including what’s worked best and why, if applicable
  • Target Audience
    Size, location and industry of clients, partners and media you want to attract and convert
  • S.W.O.T.
    Your company’s greatest strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats

Section 2: Your Marketing Objectives

With the information from your situation analysis in-hand, cross-reference your business goals with your company’s strengths to form SMART marketing objectives. See examples of how marketing objectives should support your business goals.

  • Business Goal: Expand service area nationally
    • Marketing Objective: Generate national awareness
  • Business Goal: Grow revenue by 10%
    • Marketing Objective: Acquire 3 new clients
  • Business Goal: Introduce new service line
    • Marketing Objective: Create market need for service

Section 3: Your Marketing Strategy

Now for the most important part of your TMP—the strategy. This section is by far the most critical piece of your TMP because, as coined by Sagefrog’s CEO and Co-founder Mark Schmukler, “strategy without tactics is a daydream; tactics without strategy is a nightmare.” Meaning, there’s no point in executing on tactics if you haven’t given critical thought and research to the reasons behind them.

At this phase of development, you’ll want to consider the buyer funnel’s three stages: awareness, consideration and decision.

tactical marketing modern buyer and seller funnel

      • The goal of the awareness stage is to create recognition for your brand. Strategies that work best at this stage are content marketing, public relations and event marketing.
      • The goal of the consideration stage is to help your leads understand the benefits of your product or service over other options. Strategies include sell sheets, checklists and tip sheets.
      • The goal of the decision stage is to convert leads into clients. To do this, you need to reduce their risk of choosing your brand. Paid advertising that offers demos, free consultations and guarantees work best, and because the probability of converting these leads into clients are greater than at the awareness stage, you’re more likely to see return-on-investment.

With these stages and strategies mind, you can develop your marketing strategy. Here are strategies we deemed best for the aforementioned marketing objectives.

  • Marketing Objective: Generate national awareness
    • Strategy: Raise awareness of the company with integrated marketing campaigns
    • Strategy: Increase industry recognition through event participation and public relations
  • Marketing Objective: Acquire 3 new clients
    • Strategy: Distinguish the company from competitors by communicating differentiators
    • Strategy: Leverage relationships with existing customers for case studies and testimonials
  • Marketing Objective: Create market need for service
    • Strategy: Educate key markets about the service through free demos and consultations
    • Strategy: Gain recognition as an authoritative service provider with thought leadership

With the overarching strategy for how you’ll accomplish your marketing objectives developed, now you can move on to identifying the specific tactics you’ll need to execute.

Section 4: Your Marketing Tactics

Marketing tactics can be broken into two categories, foundational and ongoing. Foundational tactics are things like making sure your website is updated and representative of your brand as well as ensuring your brand’s overall look and feel is accurate and compelling. If you’re not sure if your brand is in need of a refresh or not, here are some helpful ways to find out. Ongoing tactics are those that are used in different ways over time.

When making your TMP, pinpoint opportunities to execute your chosen tactics on a month-to-month basis. For example, if increasing industry recognition with public relations is one of your strategies, think about which months pose the best opportunities to generate news and coverage.

Use this chart to identify the tactics that best support your marketing strategies. Most companies find that using all the tools in their toolbox is the smartest way to accelerate success. However, depending on your objectives there might be some tactics that take precedent.


tactical marketing buyer journey

To finalize your month-to-month calendar (which, pro-tip, is most effective when planned for only two quarters at a time), make sure the benefits of these tactics really will support your marketing objectives. If you’re still not sure, our experts are always available to consult with you about how to best use digital marketing, public relations and social media and traditional marketing tactics.

Section 5: Your Next Steps

Once your TMP is finalized, it’s time to get into execution mode! Remember, the point of going through the work of developing a TMP to begin with is to mitigate fire drills that forever plague companies small and large. So, if you’re a marketing manager, stick to the plan, and when new ideas do arise, don’t just say yes and start executing. Rather, refer to your business goals, marketing objectives and strategies to see how and where they’ll fit into your plan. Some ideas might not make the cut, but for those that do—plot them strategically on your calendar in a way that doesn’t disrupt the rest of your plan.

The other important thing to remember when adhering to your TMP is to always prepare for execution at least one month prior. If you’re preparing tactics in the same month they’re plotted for, you’re behind—and experience has taught us, it’s hard to catch back up. To avoid this, identify what’s causing your delay. If it’s capacity, know that extra resources are just a phone call or click away: at Sagefrog, we pride ourselves on being a modern marketing agency recognized for expedient strategy and quality work, plus extreme accessibility that makes our full-stack expertise seem just a cubicle away.

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Have quick questions about your tactical marketing plan? Contact Sagefrog Marketing Group today.