How to Develop a Real (And Really Smart) Tactical Marketing Plan

Think back to the last tactical marketing plan you developed for your company or the last tactical marketing plan presented to your team. Did it take the form of an irrelevant strategy document with a 30,000-foot-view of your industry, or in another 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 confuse marketing managers and miss the mark for business executives expecting results.

A tactical marketing plan breaks down your broader business goals into clear marketing objectives that can be achieved through a series of marketing strategies and correlating tactics.

 

Business Goals ⇒ Marketing Objectives  ⇒ Marketing Strategies ⇒ Marketing Tactics

Use this guide to build and format your next tactical marketing plan.
Tactical Marketing Plan Guide:

  1. Your Business Goals & Situation Analysis
  2. Your Marketing Objectives
  3. Your Marketing Strategy
  4. Your Marketing Tactics
  5. Your Next Steps

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 structure and depth, but a good baseline situation analysis for your tactical marketing plan should cover:

  • Business Goals
    The 1-year goals you have for your business, such as revenue growth and service expansion
  • 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
    Your previous or current marketing efforts, including what’s worked best and why, if applicable
  • 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. Here are some examples of how all new 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 three new clients

Business Goal: Introduce a new service line

Marketing Objective: Create and analyze market need for a new service

Section 3: Your Marketing Strategy

Now for the most important part of your tactical marketing plan: 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.” There’s no point in moving ahead with executing tactics if you haven’t given critical thought 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.

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 email marketing and content marketing to share sell sheets and case studies.
      • The goal of the decision stage is to convert leads into clients. To do this, you need to reduce any risk associated with choosing your brand over others. Paid advertising that offers demos, free consultations and guarantees is the best strategy for this stage, and because the probability of converting these leads into clients is greater than at the awareness stage, you’re more likely to see a greater return on investment.

With these three buyer funnel stages and supporting strategies mind, you can develop your marketing strategy. Here are strategies we deemed best for the sample marketing objectives in Section 2.

Marketing Objective: Generate national awareness

      • Strategy: Raise awareness for the brand with integrated marketing campaigns
      • Strategy: Increase industry recognition through event participation and public relations

Marketing Objective: Acquire three 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 and analyze market need for a new 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 down into two categories: foundational and ongoing. Foundational tactics are things like making sure your website is updated and representative of your brand and ensuring your overall look and feel is accurate and compelling. If you’re unsure if your brand needs a refresh, review the components of an effective modern Brand Strategy document. Ongoing tactics typically support long-term strategies and objectives, such as continual event marketing to support ongoing acquisition of a certain audience.

Start by pinpointing monthly opportunities for executing your marketing tactics. If increasing industry recognition through public relations is one of your strategies, think about which months pose the best opportunities to generate news and coverage using specific tactics. When a thought leader in your company is speaking at a large industry, this would be a prime opportunity to work public relations into your TMP.

Use the chart below to identify the tactics that best support your marketing strategies. Most companies find that using all the tools available to them through their marketing agency and internal marketing team is the smartest way to quickly accelerate success. However, depending on your objectives and resources, there might be some tactics that take precedent over others throughout the year.


Section 5: Your Next Steps

To finalize your monthly calendars (which are most effective when planned and solidified only two quarters, or three months, at a time), make sure the benefits of these tactics truly 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, social media and traditional marketing tactics.

Once your tactical marketing plan is finalized, it’s time to get into execution mode! Remember, the purpose of all the work that goes into developing a TMP is to mitigate marketing fire drills that forever plague companies small and large. If you’re a marketing manager, stick to the plan, and when new ideas do arise from your team members, don’t just say yes and start executing. Rather, refer to your business goals, marketing objectives and strategies to see how and where these ideas will fit into your existing plan. Some 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.

One other important thing to remember when following your TMP is to always prepare for execution at least one month prior. If you’re preparing tactics in the same month they’re scheduled for, you’re behind—and experience has taught us that it’s hard to catch 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. Schedule a consultation with us to discuss your current marketing efforts and goals.

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