Strategic Marketing Planning for Printers (Part II)

Strategy and Tactics

In last week’s post we started a strategic marketing plan for the Jetson Printing Company.  We encountered George, literally stuck on Astro’s treadmill, outside the business.  Like many small business owners, George was overwhelmed.  His printing business is struggling and he’s spending a lot of time putting out fires and getting the daily projects out.  George knows that his business has to change, but it’s difficult to focus in the midst of mayhem.  He needs a plan and we’re helping him to put it together.

Last week, George and his team took some time out to brainstorm, and came up with a list of 9 Marketing Goals for 2014.  Here they are:

List of Goals

You’ll notice that the last 4 goals are crossed out.  George and his crew are smart enough to know that the first five items will be enough for them to work on in the foreseeable future.  If time permits, they’ll come back to Goals 6 – 9.

Today, we’ll look at the next step in constructing the Strategic Marketing Plan for Jetson Printing, mapping a strategy and developing tactics for each goal.

What’s the Difference?

It’s probably a good idea to define strategy and tactics before we start to build out George Jetson’s plan.  Webster defines strategy as “a careful plan or method for achieving a particular goal, usually over a long period of time.”  The definition for tactic is similar, but different, “a careful plan or method for achieving a particular goal.”  The difference comes down to itemization.  The strategy can contain several items or tactics, and each tactic is a means or device that contributes to the goal of the strategy.

If you need an easy example, remember the Trojan horse.  The Greek strategy was to secretly infiltrate the city of Troy and win the war.  The ruse involving the hollow horse was a tactic designed to get the Greek soldiers behind the city gates.

So, for our purposes, the strategy is the overview of how we intend to accomplish each of Jetson Printing’s goals and the tactics are the details that will be used to implement each strategy and achieve each goal. Clear so far?

Where do Strategies and Tactics Come From?

Remember the brainstorming session from last week? Chances are that George and his group mapped out much of the strategy and identified at least a few of the tactics during their discussion and prioritization of each of the goals.  It’s difficult to avoid the discussion of the “hows and whats” when the goals are identified.  Developing strategy and tactics is just fleshing out the “hows, whats, and whos” needed to accomplish the goal.  The “who” is very significant in this phase of planning.  It’s important to assign responsibility for each tactic – otherwise all of the planning will go for nought.  Without the “who,” there will be no implementation.

So, development of strategy and tactics is another good group effort.  Beyond the benefit of having several brains to provide ideas, assigning responsibility for the undertaking is much easier when there’s “buy in” from the group.  Let’s join George and his team as they develop the strategy and tactics to accomplish the first two goals on the list.

Putting it Together

There was a lot of agreement among the team about Goal 1.  George and his group understand that they need a realistic assessment of their current market position to guide their planning and their activities for the coming year.  They want to find out where they are and where they might go. Describing the strategy is pretty easy.  It goes something like this:

Strategy: Gather external input and data about the market for Jetson Printing’s existing products and services and for related products and services that are currently not part of our offerings.  Match customer and prospect demand with current capabilities. Identify opportunities and changes needed.

The Jetson Printing team also had no shortage of ideas for tactics to accomplish Goal 1.  After considerable discussion, they boiled the list down to 4 tactics:

  1. Interview our top 20 accounts – talk with key decision makers about their future need for print and how printed products will integrate into their marketing mix. Identify other print or marketing-related needs that might be filled by Jetson Printing.
  2. Talk with 5 – 10 business influencers in our market to gain their insights and learn about trends in our area. Identify areas of potential for Jetson Printing.
  3. Survey a list of prospects and smaller customers about their perceptions of our company and capability.  Evaluate knowledge of and interest in our current product/service offerings.  Identify key competitors and evaluate competitive position.
  4. Perform SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) Analysis after data is analyzed.


George Jetson at ComputerAs the Jetson Printing team discussed the tactics they would employ to achieve Goal #1, they realized that they were facing a quandary.  They needed an accurate assessment of their current market position to move forward with any of their other objectives, but they really didn’t have the capabilities in-house that they needed to conduct the surveys and gather the information.  What to do?

It was at this point that the group realized that their priorities needed adjustment.  Goal #2 for the company’s strategic marketing plan was “Get Some Help – Hire a Consultant or a Marketing Manager.”  The Jetson Printing team realized that expertise was needed first, so they changed the list and re-prioritized this goal.

During the discussion, the group also realized that they had given some additional definition to the objective of “getting marketing help.” The original idea had been possibly to hire a marketing “director” who could write some copy, do social networking, and maybe move up in the organization.  George wasn’t sure that would be enough, so he had amended the goal to add “hire a consultant.”  As the group discussed their quandary, they realized that they couldn’t afford someone full-time with the ability to take on the survey work they needed for their marketing assessment. George had met the owner of DP Marketing Services at Print 13, so there was also a ready solution to the quandary – hire Richard part-time on retainer to conduct the assessment.  He’d also gain an understanding of Jetson Printing’s customers and their capabilities that might be useful in accomplishing other objectives.

Built-In Flexibility

Setting polite pandering aside, here’s the point. The strategic marketing plan that you create is a work in progress.  Flexibility is built in and it’s not only likely, but probable that the analysis you’ll undertake will impact a couple of your goals.  Further, when you begin to put the plan in place, you’ll discover that some of your assumptions may be flawed or that there’s an opportunity that should take a higher priority.  Here’s the point: Change as you go, but be intentional.  Your plan should be rigid enough to guide your activity, but flexible enough to accommodate new possibilities.

Where We At?

George and the team have developed a strategy statement and tactics for each of the five goals that they identified last week and a worksheet for each of the goals has been added to our Strategic Marketing Plan Spreadsheet.  Here’s a screenshot of the Strategy and Tactics entry for our revised Goal #1.  Click the link or the image to take a look at the strategy and tactics that the Jetson team developed for each of their goals:

Jetson Printing Strategy and Tactics

Hopefully, you’re getting a sense both of the mechanics of developing a Strategic Marketing Plan and of the value of the process.  Developing this kind of outline helps you to refine your thinking and can add some order to the chaos that many small business and printing company owners manage each day.  Next week, we’ll bring costs and practicality into our plan with a discussion of Budgets and Timetables.

The Last Part

contactbuttonDP Marketing Services provides marketing services and support for printing companies. Part of our mission is to help our customers plan their marketing program and execute it with consistency. We hope you’ll take a look at our website while you’re here. If you’d like to talk about your business, we’d be most happy to get in touch. The first consultation is absolutely free and there’s no pressure. You can contact Richard Dannenberg by phone at 478-719-4029, by email at, or you can click the button to fill out a contact form here on the website.


Photo attribution: Hanna-Barbera, pilfered from the Internet. Forgiveness asked in lieu of permission