Integrated Planning

Grow your brand by aligning business strategy with communications planning.

Diana Lillicrap 1.25.2017

Most organizations know that a strategic plan can bring clarity and focus to a company. But if you’re looking to grow your brand or create incremental changes with measurable outcomes, make sure you integrate your strategic plan with your communications plan.

A typical strategic plan includes:

  • Your vision (direction/what you are trying to achieve)
  • Your mission (purpose/why you exist)
  • Your values (beliefs and principles of your culture)
  • Your strategy (plan of action you intend to use to deliver on your vision, mission, and values)

A typical communications plan includes:

  • Your goals and objectives
  • Your target audiences and marketplace considerations
  • Your intended messages
  • Your planned strategies and tactics
  • A means to measure and track results

A process to integrate

So where do you begin to integrate these two plans? True integration means getting out of the traditional silo-approach to business and collaborating across all areas of your organization. Start by involving your communications and marketing leaders along with other key business areas into the business planning for your company. By being part of the process, each area will feel a sense of ownership for the overall strategy, which will make it more likely to be successful. Plus, through the process, you can gather early input that will help you focus on what’s most important and realistic to accomplish with the teams and resources you have.

Next, build or adjust your communications plan based on the new understanding and commitment to the big-picture strategy. Make sure you are directly aligning what you want to be, why you exist, and the values of your stakeholders with your audiences’ needs and marketplace opportunities. Then, create messages, determine communication strategies, and plan the appropriate communications tools to accomplish your goals. And don’t forget to define ways you plan to measure results and adjust the plan to improve it over time.

Keep it simple

Although the process involves multiple players, it’s important to realize that the tools you use to define your decisions and the final integrated plan you create to keep you on track doesn’t have to be complicated. Don’t create a 30-page report that frankly, no one will ever read again. Integrated planning should be straightforward and clear. In fact, the trend for these types of integrated plans are to make them visual.

Here’s an example of one such plan.

This was done by ICAH, the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health. On a single page they’ve identified their vision, mission, and values and what they plan to accomplish. They’ve used clear language and simple images that are focused on target audiences and measurable outcomes. What’s more, they now have a useful tool to use not just in planning, but in ongoing implementation.

Ready, set, integrate

Ready to be more strategic and see results? An integrated planning process is one of the most effective steps you can take. You’ll build consensus, create internal brand advocates to accomplishing your goals, and generate a strong road map for success.

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