G.O.S.T. stands for:
- Strategic Initiatives
G.O.S.T. means that your marketing plan can be summarized on one page. This is a benefit worth its weight in gold on its own, but the framework provides three additional benefits.
- The simplicity of it forces focus on the team implementing it.
- It provides an easy way to ensure that the plan holds together and is consistent.
- It serves as a wonderfully simple plan summary. It is a powerful communications tool.
Let’s break down each section.
A marketing plan should be built around goals and objectives. There is no reason to write one without an objective. Goals and objectives need to be S.M.A.R.T., which stands for:
Marketing plans should be built on just one or two objectives. A plan with a dozen goals has no focus or sense of direction, and defining success becomes nearly impossible.
Marketing plans should ultimately be built around profit goals or objectives. After all, that is what most of us are here for, right? I realize not all business exist to produce a profit, so one must adjust accordingly. For non-profits, your primary goal could be a fundraising target.
I personally prefer the one-goal marketing plan. But secondary goals are acceptable. Remember, goals must be S.M.A.R.T., so being “innovative” won’t work because it isn’t measurable. Growing you share of the market from 25% to 40% though? Now you’ve got it!
The most important part of a marketing plan is the strategic initiatives. They are the heart of the plan. Strategic initiatives outline what the business will do to achieve the objective. While they are the action behind the plan, they are not the intended final outcome; that is the objective. They are also not the tactical recommendations; those are the tactics. The strategic initiatives are the overall actions of the plan. An objective is what you want to achieve. The strategy is how you get there.
A good strategic initiative has four characteristics. They should be:
- Directly supportive of the objective.
The best number of strategic initiatives for a business is three. There are two reasons for this. First, it forces great focus. This is essential for getting things done. Second, it is easy to communicate and remember three things. People tend to remember things in groups of three or four. This is why phone numbers are broken into groups of three or four numbers.
Example of strategic initiatives include:
- Increase Referrals
- Attract Competitors’ Customers
- Build Extended Usage (Baking Soda isn’t just for cooking, it can also be used to brush your teeth and deodorize your refrigerator)
All of these strategic initiatives are clear, action-oriented, measurable, and supportive of a profit-driven objective.
Tactics are the specifics of your plan. Strategic initiatives set the overall direction, and tactics provide the specific execution point.
For example, to increase referrals, you could:
- Improve the quality of your service
- Ask (simple, I know, but many don’t!)
- Offer an incentive
- Follow up
As I said in my previous post, many marketing plans are pointless. While useful marketing plans include more than just the G.O.S.T. framework, using it as the foundation of your plan means that it will do more than collect dust, and that’s a start.
My next article will focus on the other sections of the marketing plan.