Strategies, tactics help beat rivals

score Question:
I've tried newspaper, radio, TV and mass mail advertising, and none seems to work for me. I don't know how people can say it does a great job for them in increasing business. The only result I get is a decrease in funds. What do you have to say about that?

Do you know where your objectives are? What are your marketing goals for the next 12 months? Are they to increase sales revenues, cut the cost of goods, trim expenses or enhance bottom-line profits? Do you want to add products or services? How about investigating new target-market niches or expanding into a new geographical area?

Whatever your goals, they must satisfy these very important criteria:

  • Be in writing.
  • Be realistic and attainable.
  • Include a time frame for achievement.
for example, ":I want to increase sales" is not a good goal. It is not specific or measurable, nor does it have a time frame for achievement. On the other hand, "In the year 2000, I want to increase sales by 20 percent over the 1999 revenues" is a goal. When January 2001 rolls around you can review performance and determine if that goal was reached.

You need strategies and tactics, which makes it sound like war. Marketing is often compared to military operations. Like the Army, we create strategic plans and tactically strive to annihilate the enemy, the competition.

Some sample strategies:

  • To create an awareness of our product and its benefits with the target market
  • To offer the safest, most environmental friendly pest control services in our marketing area.
Of course to do this you must be specific, identifying the actual target group of customers in the area you wish to serve. The idea is to design a strategy that encompasses the "big picture" and reflects the philosophy of you and your company.

As opposed to the big picture strategies, tactics are definite action steps that are implemented. These tactics are focused toward the fulfillment of the strategies.

For instance, lets look at the first sample strategy. As a tactic, we choose to run a series of print ads in the local paper and in the magazines that are read by our customers. By the very nature of them seeing the ads, potential customers become aware of the company, its products and the benefits received from the product.

Advertising in a newspaper or magazine, running commercials on TV or radio, joining the Chamber of Commerce and mailing out brochures are examples of marketing tactics.

After mapping out your tactics, determine the type of investment needed to accomplish each tactic. Then design a 12-month spreadsheet with tactics in the left-hand column. Place the dollar amounts to be spent on each tactic under the appropriate monthly column [along the top] that you plan to perform this tactic.

If you intend to send direct mail postcards bimonthly, then in every other column, place the amount invested for printing, postage and mailing lists. At the far right of the spreadsheet will be the total cost of each marketing tactic for the while year. At the bottom will be the total market expenses for each month.

After selecting goals and planning your marketing strategies, tactics and budget for the next year, determine whether the total expense is affordable. If the amount is too high as a percentage of sales or restricted by cash-flow problems, you may need to adjust the plan or revise the marketing process or modify your goals.

Bill Bryan is a counselor with the Service Corps of Retired Executives. SCORE offers counseling, workshops and seminars on small business operations. You can reach Bryan through SCORE, 515 N Court St. 815-962-0122, for information and appointments.

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