Step 3: Figure Out Where You Want to Go

In Step 3, you start to lay the groundwork for your communications plan. This step involves:

  • Reviewing your organization's mission, and using it to guide your strategy
  • Determining the best timeline for your plan
  • Drafting an overall objective, utilizing the SMART system

Let Your Mission Be Your Guide

Take a look at your organization's mission. What are you really setting out to do? If folks on your core strategy team aren't already familiar with your mission, make sure you take some time to review it and disseminate it. The mission of your organization should help guide your strategy overall.

Determine Your Timeline

You've heard of that maxim from productivity guru Stephen Covey, "Begin with the end in mind"? This is the point in the process where you define timeline for your plan. Are you trying to lay the groundwork for the next six months? Two years? Five years? 

It's a good idea to consider your own business cycle, fiscal year, and other factors to determine what timeline makes the most sense for you. You want the plan to be presenting a vision of where you want to be in X months/years. 

Draft an Overall Objective

Start thinking about an overall objective for the plan, or at least start to brainstorm one with your core group. Typically I find you will need to refine this later once the details have been determined. Here are some examples:

  • To refine and update the marketing initiatives at Amazing Nonprofit Organization, so that in two years we've raised awareness about our cause in the local community, increased engagement with our digital marketing materials, and built a stronger identity through more coordinated materials.
  • To streamline our marketing efforts for better return on our advertising and digital marketing expenses at Best Small Business Ever; with better coordination and simpler processes we hope that we can increase both foot traffic and digital traffic while investing less time overall on our outreach.
  • To launch the Institute for Brilliance in Higher Education and lay a foundation that engages with our target audiences and builds our communications capacity.
  • To sell 20% more tickets and raise 25% more in sponsorships for Our Fantastic Fundraising Event than last year, while also ensuring that our volunteers are better informed and have the materials they need to help coordinate, plan, and promote the event.

As you're trying to write your objective, make sure that your team is aware of the principles of SMART objectives; SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

Once you have the plan's overall objective in place, you're ready to start breaking that down into the individual strategies that will create your plan's framework. Check out Step 4: Map Out Your Best Route for more details.

Check out all of the posts in the
Communications Strategy Roadmap Series:

Communications Strategy Roadmap: 5 Steps to Success
Step 1: Determine Where You Are Now
Step 2: Survey the Landscape
Step 3: Figure Out Where You Want to Go
Step 4: Map Out Your Best Route
Step 5: Get On the Road