Step 5: Get On the Road

We've arrived! It's time to sit down and draft your overall implementation plan, by building-out the outline you started in Step 4. We're almost there!

The format of your plan may vary. I recommend starting with a basic text document that captures your ideas; you can always turn the plan into a slide deck or plug your tactics into a project management system of some kind if that's what will work best for you.

Your plan should include:

  1. Your overall SMART objective for your plan (as determined in step 3)
  2. A summary of your target audiences (perhaps include full audience profiles, and/or your SWOT matrix from step 2, as an Appendix)
  3. Each strategy, followed by the tactics with the details about how you will achieve each strategy, broken into manageable, discrete pieces; here's an example of the the format I prefer:

Strategy 1: Create a coherent visual identity and messaging system to allow us more flexibility across our communications channels

Tactic 1.1. Graphic Identity
We will hire a graphic designer to create an identity that we can use for X, Y, and Z. We will work with Amazing Graphic Design Firm.
Timeline: By Q3 of this year
Resources: Director of Marketing with Graphic Designer; Budget of $1,000
Metrics: Have a logo in-hand that meets our specifications
Status: Specs are approved internally and we've contacted Amazing Graphic Design Firm for a quote

Make sure that within this document, you've set some priorities and that items such as "Resources" are achievable by the people you've indicated and within the budget you've set for yourself. 

Depending on the makeup of your organization and the team working on your strategy, you may need to engage with additional members of leadership, present this draft to a board, or further refine with other stakeholders before you're ready to put your plan into action. Once you've had the necessary sign-off and approvals, congratulations! Now the real work can begin.

Staying on Track

Once you've put all of this work into your strategy, you also need to develop a system for making sure you're consulting the strategy from time to time so that you actual get where you've set off to go to. This strategy shouldn't sit on a shelf, unused and useless. It's a working document and you should treat it that way.

I like to set a quarterly reminder for myself to update the "metrics" and "status" section of each tactic. Think about what interval for review makes the most sense for you. Of course, with anything, you can't measure what you don't track, so this plan can help guide your data collection and analysis for your activities. It's very satisfying to be able to update the status of your work and see the progress you've made over time. 

And if unexpected things come up that impact you're ability to execute your plan -- which, of course, they pretty much always will -- you can make a note of that in the document itself and adjust the tactic details accordingly.

Ideally, this plan reflects the priorities and capacity of your organization. Often, when a new person enters the mix or leadership changes, you may need to share, discuss, and ultimately refine the plan. New ideas, projects, and initiatives inevitably come up over time, and may pull focus from your plan as well. But at least you can see whether and where these new ideas fit into your overall strategy, and get a concrete sense of how something new will impact everything else.

It's also good to keep an eye on what's working well and what isn't performing as expected, so that you can shift priorities and resources over time to capitalize on success and move away from or refine ideas that aren't working.

Anyone who has working in marketing and communications for any length of time knows the value of being able to set realistic expectations for the implementation of great new ideas that crop up. Having a plan doesn't mean that you can't be flexible, but it does mean that you can be responsive to new ideas and confident about what you'll be able to achieve.

Ultimately, creating a strategy for your marketing and communications can help your organization be more efficient, effective, and successful in its efforts to understand and engage with the people you're trying to reach. So now that you have your roadmap in hand, it's time to get on the road!


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