Strategies are critical, but great tactics sell the sundae
You don’t need a marketing degree to understand the importance of planning when you launch or take over a business. Working from a strategic plan that creates “the big picture,” you’ll next move on to the tactical part of your mission: coming up with clever and inventive ways to support that big picture. It may help to replace the word tactical with “action,” because that’s exactly what you’ll be conceiving. Use this article as a springboard for your own creative ideas. It’s your business. Make it a venture that’s as successful as it is your own.
1. Begin with a clear idea of what your strategic business plan seeks to accomplish by setting measurable objectives. For example, your goal is to start a company that sells ice cream bundled with toppings in a single package. Your market is anyone who loves ice cream–and particularly those who don’t want to purchase two products to make sundaes. Anticipated results of your strategic plan are to convert consumers of other ice cream brands to yours. That’s your strategic plan in a nutshell and it will serve as your guide for conceiving tactical moves.
2. Draw up a time line to support your tactics. Included in this time line should be a carefully orchestrated series of actions that will introduce your product or service to the world. These types of tactical dates would appear on your time line: an official product/concept launch date, collateral roll-out schedules, special event dates, publicity efforts, retailer/distributor incentive programs and proposed marketing roll-outs for consumers and retailers. If you determine that an action needs to be taken, you must include it in your timeline to make certain it’s not forgotten.
3. Establish a budget that supports or exceeds your planned tactical moves. You’ll need to figure print and broadcast expenses, incentive programs, publicity costs, printing, social media and Internet advertising, event planning, and marketing administrative costs, to name a few. If it’s included in your strategic business plan, then supported in your tactical business plan and scheduled for roll out by your timeline, you must create a line item in your budget to accomplish each step.
4. List the resources you need to get your tactical plan up and running. Using the example of ice cream with toppings, consider these actions: institute FSI couponing, run ads in food magazines, send samples of the new product to food critics, launch charitable give-away plans to garner PR, reward supermarket chain managers for better freezer positioning or give ice cream distributors a sales goal that makes them eligible for a prize. The people and tangibles associated with each are considered a resource and must be included in your tactical plan.
5. Launch individual tactical efforts on schedule. Timing really is everything if you hope to reap the benefits of your efforts. Again using the ice cream example, the well-organized tactical plan means retailers receive product at the same time that coupons appear in publications, buzz about an ice cream with toppings in the same package goes viral and distributors show up to stock supermarket and independent grocery freezers to qualify for an incentive. Auxiliary to all of this, having media cover your PR or charitable event in conjunction with each of these tactics puts the proverbial cherry on top of your business plan.
6. Evaluate your tactical plans as soon as it’s feasible. Use the experiences–good and bad–as educational tools. You will have learned valuable lessons in achieving long- and short-term tactical goals and your payoff will be celebrating the attainment of your measurable objectives, knowing that your tactical moves made the entire business plan a red-hot success.