A properly organized nonprofit marketing plan supports itself like a pyramid. For each goal, there are objectives; every objective has strategies; and each strategy has tactics.
However, all too often the terms goal, objective, strategy and tactic are used as interchangeable ways of saying the same thing. Plainly put, they are not - and the resulting lack of precision can be problematic.
A goal is a "statement of being" for the plan. While the completion of the goal signifies the end of your plan, the objectives, strategies and tactics are the means to that end.
Compared to the goal, objectives are more focused and specific, and the best-formulated objectives express results as measurable outcomes. Think in terms of the awareness, attitude or action that you hope to invoke. Often there are multiple objectives in support of a single goal. Meaningful objectives start with action verbs and have four parts. They:
- Identify a specific audience being addressed,
- State a measurable outcome,
- Set an attainment level, and
- Set a timeframe.
Strategies are where the rubber meets the road. Rarely is one strategy enough to fully accomplish an objective. Likewise, it is not unusual for a single strategy to serve multiple objectives.
Tactics are the specific tools you use to implement your strategies. News releases, brochures, media pitches, e-newsletters, blogs, Web sites, surveys, focus groups, and videos are just a few examples that spring to mind. It is the truly creative part of the plan's authors to decide exactly which tactics are needed to successfully implement the chosen strategies.
A good marketing plan is interlinked from top to bottom. Without good tactics, a strategy will not successfully complete an objective, rendering the success of a goal limited.
A true marketing plan forces the authors to employ the right mix of experience with critical thinking. With this understanding of the key differences between goals, objectives, strategies and tactics, the end result is a plan that can be executed successfully.