Strengthen Your Marketing Plan with a Strategic Planning Framework
Your marketing plan is a crucial component of your business plan. And if you want your business to soar, you need a marketing plan that supports a long-term goal and well-defined objectives. Because it is easy to become overwhelmed in the planning process, we recommend using a framework to keep you focused. Developed by Rich Horwath, the GOST Framework is easy to follow and forces you to understand the often-confused terms (goals, objectives, strategies, tactics) that form the acronym.
Goal: What You Want to Achieve – 30,000 Foot View
Do you have an overarching goal written down? If not – stop right there. If you are charged with piloting an airplane you need to know your destination or your target. You must define what you want to achieve.
Example: To Become the must-have magazine resource for model airplane enthusiasts.
Notice, the goal was not written as “Sell more magazines.” Thinking long-term is key. A “must-have magazine resource” means you add value, and have achieved the status of as a trusted resource. Your magazine is the go-to for your market. Think beyond one-year subscriptions.
Objectives: What You Want to Achieve – Altitude Specific
Next, you need to decide what reasonable objectives are most likely to help you reach your goal. Use the SMART acronym “specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound” to help define your objectives.
Example: Achieve a 35% YoY increase, or $1Million, in new subscription sales by end of the second quarter.
In this example, the percentage increase may appear high, but is achievable based on your market research for model airplane enthusiasts. Your marketing and sales team now has a clear objective and can prepare a flight plan.
Strategy: Your Approach – Your Flight Plan
Before you head down the runway, you need a flight plan or strategy. Your strategy is the how – how you will approach your target. First, consider what benefit you provide your audience, and plan how you will communicate that benefit. Before you launch a direct mail campaign (tactic) or a Facebook promotion (tactic), you need to plan how you will most effectively reach your audience with the right message, at the right time, through the right channels. How will you help them understand the solution you provide? During your research you have identified what could be a key target market: model airplane enthusiasts new to the hobby. Creating a targeted message for this audience will help engrain your magazine in their eyes.
Example: Allocate resources to create and promote limited-content subscriptions.
Your marketing strategy is how you will allocate resources to support your objectives and overarching goal. With the goal to be the “must-have” resource supported by a challenging sales objective in new subscriptions, your strategy says how you will entice new subscribers – through limited content that will entice people for more.
Tactics: Your Approach – Takeoff and Landing
Now that your flight plan is prepared, you’re ready for takeoff. Your tactics will support your strategy with specifics. Your magazine offers a combined print and digital subscription, so your tactics include both print and digital content.
Example: Create a trial subscription with content geared specifically to new hobbyists. Promote the content and limited subscription through an integrated campaign comprised of direct marketing, advertising, and social media that drives people to the website. On the website, create a targeted landing page aimed at converting visitors with a complimentary 14-day trial. A video will depict three generations of family members enjoying the hobby and inspiring others to give it a try. Once signed up for a trial subscription, use email and direct mail to promote the content and the discounted yearly subscription if purchased within 30 days of trial expiration.
The tactics are specific, and intended to support your timely objective. If you find your not hitting your objectives, try adjusting your tactics before changing your strategy. Since your strategy includes the allocation of resources, let’s discuss budget.
Budget: Ensure Adequate Fuel reserves
Financial decision making is part of marketing. Understandably, you want to see a return on your investment. Determining what tactics best support your strategy and fit within your budget is key. Your flight plan may call for a measured approach, like starting with a “pilot” campaign to test messaging effectiveness.
Measurement: Monitor Your Trajectory
Taking a strategic approach is critical to achieving your goals, and your tactical plan must help you achieve your objectives. During your flight, you must test and measure along the way to help you confirm you’re on target. Your strategy guides you, but you need to have the flexibility within your plan to change how you’re getting there.