Updated on Dec. 18, 2018
Before a company launches a marketing campaign, redesign, or any other project, online or off, the first step is to define a strategic plan. In theory, this plan then serves as a reference point to guide all the company’s actions going forward. As Avinash Kaushik heavily emphasizes, the reason marketing campaigns fail is often related to the lack of a clear strategic plan.
Ok, but what exactly does that mean? Well, essentially it means identifying what your goals are and how you plan to achieve them, including the tactics and strategies you’ll use.
I’ve noticed though, on a number of projects I’ve worked on, that people often get these concepts mixed up. What’s more, if each one isn’t spelled out in sufficiently concrete terms, the ideas can be difficult for internal teams to understand and use. As Graham Kenny points out in this excellent article, a strategic plan is sometimes confused with a list of goals – when in fact, it should be a reflection on what success means for the company or organization, and how they plan to optimize for that success.
Before getting into the particulars of each element, here’s a diagram that illustrates the basic hierarchy of a strategic plan:
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We’ll start from the top, and work our way into the specifics:
The mission of a company, piece of content, or campaign should provide a top level answer to the essential question: Why does the company exist? What is it trying to accomplish? The mission of a website might be stated using terms like this: inform, sell, compare…
Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. And Facebook’s mission: to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.
To illustrate each term, I’ll use the example of a humanitarian organization. It’s mission? To end hunger worldwide (not a bad mission!).
When a company’s mission is well understood and properly integrated, it makes it easier to define objectives, strategies, and tactics in the long term.
Your objectives determine what you want to achieve: increase market share, improve profitability, grow brand awareness in a particular region… Each objective needs to be measurable and time-bound.
For example, in the case of our humanitarian organization, objectives might include increasing donations by 20% in one year, or maybe increasing community engagement through social media by 10%.
Each objective should have associated strategies: what approach(es) will you use to reach your objective?
For example: Create celebrity partnerships to support the organization’s initiatives, invest in optimizing the website to increase online giving…
Tactics are the tools, the actions, the operational aspect of strategy: what concrete action needs to be taken tomorrow, to reach our objective at the end of the year?
For example: creating storytelling videos on world hunger, doing A/B testing on your online giving pages, sharing photos with engaging captions…
Key performance indicators (KPIs) are used to measure your company’s progress towards its objectives. These are the metrics to watch, and they are what will ultimately let us know whether or not our strategic plan was effective.
For example: Conversion rates, task completion rates, engagement rates.
The target is the number you need to reach to achieve your objective. In my example, I included the target directly in the objective: 20% for the increase in donations, 10% for the growth in engagement.
Here are a couple of case studies, including the strategies developed for each client:
Fundraising strategy: https://www.adviso.ca/clients/fondation-jean-lapointe/
Page optimization: https://www.adviso.ca/clients/protegez/
So, was all this more or less what you’d had in mind when you used these terms before?