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How to Develop a Tactical Marketing Plan

By: Andrea Panno

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 with 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.

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

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 strategic marketing tactics used to achieve those objectives.

Business Goals -> Strategic Marketing Objectives -> Strategic Marketing Plan -> 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 tactical marketing plan 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 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 Strategic 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 strategic 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: Strategic Marketing Strategy

Now for the most essential part of your tactical marketing plan —the strategy. This section is by far the most critical piece of your tactical marketing plan because, as coined by leading B2B marketing agency 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.

  • The goal of the awareness stage is to create recognition for your brand. Strategies that work best are content marketingpublic 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 works best, and because the probability of converting these leads into clients is greater than at the awareness stage, you’re more likely to see return-on-investment.

With these stages and tactics in mind, you can engage in genuinely strategic marketing. 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 Tactical Marketing Plan

Tactical marketing planning can be broken into two categories, foundational and ongoing. Foundational strategic marketing tactics include ensuring your website is up to date and representative of current branding and ensuring your brand’s overall look and feel is accurate and compelling. If you’re not sure if your brand needs a refresh or not, here are some helpful ways to find out. Ongoing tactics are those that morph and evolve over time.

“When making your tactical marketing plan, 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, consider which months pose the best opportunities to generate news and coverage.”

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 looking for guidance, our experts are always available to consult with you about how to best use digital marketing, public relations, social media, and traditional marketing tactics.

Section 5: Your Next Steps for Strategic & Tactical Marketing

Once your tactical marketing plan is finalized, it’s time to get into execution mode! Remember, the whole point of putting all that effort into a tactical marketing plan upfront is to mitigate common pitfalls 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. Instead, 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 tactical marketing plan is always preparing 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, extra resources are just a call or click away.

Have quick questions about your strategic marketing plan and tactics? Contact Sagefrog Marketing Group today.

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