By Lynn Corbitt, Account Executive
When you work with a marketer, chances are at some point they’ll use the acronym GOST. (And no, that’s not a misspelling of “ghost!) If they don’t use the acronym, then they’re likely just skipping that part and going straight to the four words themselves: goals, objectives, strategies and tactics. A great plan is more likely to deliver great results, which is what happened for one of our clients, Mercy Health.
Every solid communications, marketing or public relations plan includes the four GOST elements, but sometimes their meanings can overlap or feel a little ambiguous. Today we’re breaking down each of these so you can feel confident the next time your marketing team wants to discuss any of these concepts.
Your goal is probably the easiest term to understand, because it’s what you want to achieve. This is the spot for big-picture thinking. When you’re creating a goal, you want to be broad, but you don’t want to go too broad, because this should still be attainable. This should be a simple statement that captures the overall theme. A good example of a goal is “elevate awareness of the company among potential consumers in the region.”
Note that your goal doesn’t dig into how you’ll achieve it or even how you’ll measure it. That comes later. For now, we’re just talking big-picture desires.
Once you have your goal established, we need to figure out what it means to achieve that goal. From our previous example, elevated awareness is a broad phrase. In order to know if your marketing campaign is successful or not, we need to have parameters. These are your objectives. A good objective for that goal might be “increase unique website visitors by 10% by the end of Q4.”
Objectives are specific and detail-oriented, but they still don’t get into how you’ll achieve your goals.
When you get to the strategy level you can start thinking about how. Your strategies tell you how the goal will be accomplished. Typically you’ll have more than one strategy for a particular goal and objective. These strategies work together to make your campaign successful. For example, if we’re looking to increase awareness by increasing unique website visitors, strategy ideas might be social advertising, a referral campaign, tradeshows or media relations.
Strategies sound more high-level than objectives because they don’t have specific numbers and success markers attached to them. We’ll see those in the tactics.
Finally, this is the most specific part of the communications plan. As with strategies, there will likely be many different tactics for a particular goal. In fact, there might be multiple tactics for a single strategy. These tactics will hold the details of who your audience is, how they’ll be reached and why they’re being shown messaging. A tactic for the above example might be “E-newsletter: sent bi-monthly to audiences segmented by interest. Success is X% open rate and Y% click-through rate. To raise awareness of company’s capabilities.”
Tactics are hyper-specific and contain all of the information you need to track whether or not they’re successful.
Now that you know about GOST, you can be confident reviewing a communications plan or discussing one with your marketing team. Remember that they get more specific as you go down the list, and that you need all of them to have a complete communications plan. Have you heard these terms thrown around before?