When creating an effective communications plan, it’s important to recognize the difference between strategy and tactics. These two terms are often misunderstood, or worse, used as synonyms.
The strategy (or strategies)
Each communications, advertising or media relations campaign must start first with a clear understanding of what you want to achieve. Ask yourself, “At the end of all this work, what will we consider a success?” This helps define your overarching objective for the plan. If we’re crafting a plan for a fictional, hip retail shop, we might create an objective like this:
“We want to increase our month-over-month revenue with a special sale that features our unique Ottawa-first stock list.”
Now you can begin to articulate specific goals that will help achieve the communications objective.
In this case, the goals could look like this:
- Increase sales by $1,450 this month
- Feature our unique Ottawa goods in three local media outlets
- Increase the customer email list by 25%
Each one of the above bullet points will require the store to take specific communications actions.
Tactics, in short, are those specific actions you take. Each communications plan requires a unique set of tactics to be deployed. Ideally, each campaign you launch builds on the successful points of the last efforts your organization undertook.
If we focus on the goal to “Increase the customer email list by 25%,” we could outline several key actions:
- Inform front line sales team of the promotion
- Create an internal contest to see which salesperson can add the most new additions
- Ensure you ask each customer by using a value proposition based request (instead of “May I add you to our list?” try “We have a monthly email newsletter with special online-only deals. Would you like me to sign you up so you can take advantage of these discounts?”
Only once you’ve articulated your objective, goals and tactics will your communications plan yield better outcomes.
Ian Capstick is Founding Partner and Creative Director at MediaStyle. He is also a past recipient of the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce’s prestigious Forty Under 40 Awards.