The key to a successful plan is to ensure it is appropriately conceived. Are you developing a Marketing Communications Plan? An Event Plan? A Website Plan? In all cases, there are three harmonizing components that are foundational to the success of your plan.
Articulate what you need to achieve. Goals are statements of intent such as “increase revenue” or “build a reseller channel.” Goals are nothing without objectives. Ask yourself [and your team] the question, “How will we know when we are successful?” Objectives are SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound.
Why are goals and objectives core to a plan? Taking time to articulate what you need to achieve ensures that you spend valuable resources (people, time, and money) on only the most appropriate strategies and tactics that will deliver the desired outcomes.
Define the ideal profile of the target audience(s). The profile includes verticals, titles, demographics, pain points, likes/dislikes, media that resonates-any criteria that ensure you are communicating with the right person. In the case of the three plans mentioned in the introduction, you may also want to include dis-qualifiers. Here’s a concrete example of what I mean. You are developing a Marcom Plan and researching tradeshows. Your software product does not support the MAC operating system. The attendee profile at XYZ Expo 2010 is: 80% MAC shops, 10% Windows, 5% Linux; and 5% Unknown. Time to leave this website, and look for a better fit.
Why is profiling the audience core to a plan? Identifying the audience ensures you hone in on only the most appropriate vehicles that will deliver the required return on investment (ROI).
State the funds allocated to the plan.
Why is budget core to a plan? There are upward of a hundred different tactics that you can employ to connect with an audience. Knowing how much you have to spend ensures you choose tactics wisely and that they achieve a healthy ROI.
One cannot develop a communications plan without articulating these three elements: goals and objectives, audience, and budget. Leaving out any one of these components will lead to a flawed implementation and unhealthy ROI.