By Chris Shaffer
Ad2 Reno Treasurer & Eye-Com Corporation Marketer

Most organizations have a general idea of what they would like their marketing efforts to accomplish. But spelling out those goals and how they will d

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o it in a marketing strategic plan can yield significantly better results and make it manageable.

Identifying goals and objectives helps prioritize efforts, and creates a means of measuring success. Having clear aims to shoot for gives staff a clear understanding of what they should be working on and what’s off mission.

There are multiple ways to structure a plan, but this is a common and effective way to break down the big picture into a series of actionable steps. Typically, each objective supports the goal, each strategy supports an objective and each tactic supports a strategy. This helps to make sure your efforts are aligned with your over-arching goal(s) to help you focus on achieving it. With communications plans often covering public relations, marketing, and advertising, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. But breaking it down into specific actions using strategies and tactics makes it much easier to chart your path forward.

The easiest way to explain Strategic Communications Planning is by comparing the way you plan to the way a military plans for war (yes, we admit it’s a bit of a stretch, but trust us, communications IS a WAR).

Imagine it is December 8, 1941, the day after the Japanese have bombed Pearl Harbor, and you are the commanding general of the American mili- tary in charge of fighting back. To plot out the strategy, you must plan all of your goals, objectives, strategies, and tactics to combat the Axis.

Goal

Goals are the over-arching thing that you wish to achieve. They can be extremely broad, and are designed to give you an overall direction to head in.

  • Military Analogy: Defeat the Axis and end the war.
  • Organization Example: Be the go-to source for information about
    writing strategic communications campaigns.

Objective

Objectives are much more specific than goals. When you are writing objectives, it is important to remember that they should follow the principles of a S.M.A.R.T. goal (See related story “Make Your Goals S.M.A.R.T.”).

  • Military Analogy: Take 10 miles of beaches along the coast of Normandy, by no later than June 6th, 1944.
  • Organization Example: The marketing department is responsible for obtaining 15 new customers per month for this fiscal year. (Person in charge: Ima Tiger)

Strategy

Strategies are how you will achieve your objective.

  • Military Analogy: Use a fleet of amphibious ships to land troops on the beaches.
  • Organization Example: Collect contact information for 100 new sales leads and potential donors per month for this fiscal year. (Person in charge: Tom Shoes)

Tactic

While strategies are the thoughts and ideas that you will use to accomplish your objectives, Tactics are the actions you will use to implement your strategies.

  • Military Analogy: Use the 101st United States Airborne division to take out the German artillery covering the beaches of Normandy, so that the boats can land safely.
  • Organization Example: Use a combination of paid advertising and media relations campaigns to reach 10 percent more potential new customers each quarter. (Person in charge: Fonzie T. Bear)

Related Stories

Even More Resources…

More resources on this and other topics are available from Reno-based M3 Planning, a strategic planing firm and the authors of “Planning For Dummies.”

About the Author

- I am a recovering adrenaline junkie turned tech geek - I started out as a breaking news reporter and have since dove headlong into the wondrous world of website design, marketing and multimedia production.

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