The Number One Small Business Marketing Mistake – Part 2

Marketing mistake 2

By Chris Ripley

Last week I talked about the number one small business marketing mistake – failure to have a strategic and tactical marketing plan – and I concentrated on the strategic marketing plan. This week I’ll focus on the tactical plan.

If you think this all sounds like a military exercise your on the right track. Think about the strategic elements of a military campaign. In Afghanistan we wanted to rid the country of Al Qaeda. That was our strategic goal. To rid the country of Al Qaeda we needed to have ground tactics, air tactics, and intelligence tactics to accomplish our strategic goals.

The same is true with your business. What are your strategic goals? They may be to increase sales in a particular geographic market. It could be to get more business from your current customers. Maybe you want to get more business from online customers and people searching online.

The tactics will be the tools you use to accomplish your strategic goals. This list of marketing tactics is almost infinite. They include:

  • Direct mail
  • Online advertising
  • Social media marketing
  • Promotional products
  • Newspaper/magazine/print advertising
  • Networking/referrals

How should decide what tactics to use? Should you spend your money with the ad salesperson who calls you most often and drives you crazy? Should you spend your money with the media you like the best?

No, you should use the tactics that come from your strategic plan. When you were creating your strategic plan and asking your customers and prospects where they go to get more information about your product or service you were learning what tactics to use that have the best chance of being successful bringing customers into your business.

If many of your customers told you they found out about your business doing an online search for your product or service you may want to think about increasing your online marketing efforts. If they came to you from a referral from another customer maybe you should run some sort of referral generating campaign with your current customers to inspire them to refer more customers to your business.

How should you organize your tactical marketing plan?  I recommend creating a spreadsheet (see example) with the months of the year on the top and the various marketing tactics you plan to use on the left hand side. On the top of the page just below the months you could put your marketing budget of the month (you have a marketing budget, don’t you?) so you could see what you have to spend every month.

tactical marketing plan

Tactical Marketing Plan

This format works well for my clients. We can easily see what we did last year and what we have planned for the next few months. We don’t complete the entire tactical plan at the beginning of the year and leave it alone. We’re constantly updating the plan every time we get together based on the current market conditions. If a great deal is offered by a particular medium we can react and add it in. If we see response dropping in a particular medium we can pull back and deploy resources in another area. You should do the same.

Next week I’m going to spend some time on your message. I’ll give you a fool-proof “Marketing Formula” you can use to be sure you always get the best results from your marketing and advertising.

Chris Ripley is a Waldorf-based marketing and business development consultant and author of “Online Marketing 101” available at and He is an adjunct professor at the College of Southern Maryland and the University of Phoenix. His Web site is and you can find him on Facebook at or Twitter at chrisripley. You can contact him at or 301-328-2113.