A kinesiologist, a mechanical engineer, and a linguist walk into an advertising professor’s office… It sound like the beginning of a bad joke, however I have the privilege of serving as the faculty adviser for UTA’s chapter of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity and recently hosted a Philanthropy meeting in my office. I found myself falling into one of my early Strat Comm 1 lectures to help process through some problem solving they had come to discuss. I figured if it was useful enough to share with them, perhaps someone here might find it useful as well.
One of the principle concepts in Advertising (and Public Relations… or general planning for that matter) is establishing the Mission, focusing on the Objective, hypothesizing the Strategy, and developing Tactics in an acronym known as M.O.S.T.
Mission – This is the established purpose of the business, product, organization, cause, candidate, etc. A Mission Statement is different than a Vision Statement as the Mission Statement establishes why the organization exists whereas a Vision Statement gives direction for where it is going in the future.
In application of the above example, Kappa Sigma doesn’t have a specific “Mission Statement”, however they do have a page detailing out what they hope to achieve as an organization.
Objective – The objective identifies the primary purpose of the project or campaign, or perhaps the problem that you are setting out to solve. To often, people will allow themselves to loose focus of the primary objective and focus on secondary objectives because they may be more interesting or more fun. However being able to identify the single most important thing that you want to accomplish will help you figure out a direction that can often be supplemented with secondary objectives. Objectives need to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Bound (S.M.A.R.T.) to truly be effective. It is also important to identify things that you have control over so that you can be successful. For instance, if an advertiser establishes their objective as “I want to increase sales by 5% in the next quarter”, they may be setting themselves up for failure. The advertising campaign may be wonderful, however perhaps the product isn’t great, the pricing structure is wrong, or it’s inconvenient to purchase. Establishing goals that put more emphasis on how you will help increase sales, such as “growing awareness”, “changing perception”, or “encouraging retrial” may be more achievable for you.
In application of the above example, the Philanthropy Committee’s primary goal was to find an opportunity to meet the annual minimum number of dollars raised for each brother in the fraternity (a minimum of $30 per person). If there were opportunities accomplish their secondary objectives of incorporating other social organizations and/or focusing on the national philanthropy of Military Heroes, that would be ideal, however neither of these were identified as the primary objective for this particular event.
Strategy – Once you have a clearly defined primary objective, you can start developing a strategy for how to solve the problem or accomplish the goal. Your strategy is somewhat of your hypothesis of what you think will be a successful approach to addressing the established objective. This is more of the “how you plan to accomplish it” rather than your “what you plan on doing to accomplish it” (which is your Tactics… but I’m getting ahead of myself). A good format to start with for writing Strategies is “I want the [Target Audience] to [Verb] [Goal]”. If your Objective is to “Increase awareness of our product by 3% in the next quarter”, an example we might use when writing an advertising strategy could be “I want college educated Millennials in North Texas to know the benefits of using our product over our competitor’s”. Once you have established the framework of how you plan on approaching the problem, you can move on to the actions you’ll take towards solving it.
In application of the above example, we might have said that “We want brothers of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity at the University of Texas at Arlington to have the opportunity to raise donations of at least $30 per brother during the Fall semester by partnering with outside organizations on their established fundraising activities.”
Tactics – Tactics is the all encompassing umbrella for how you plan on accomplishing your strategy. Everything from printing t-shirts to starting a facebook page to establishing an ambassadors program all fall under tactics. Too often, people try to start with tactics. Someone may have a great connection for a partnership or an idea for an app, however if you start with tactics, you may not be optimally approaching the way to solve the problem… or even worse, you may be solving the wrong problem all together! Although your tactics are what will ultimately be the deliverable actions, it’s important to be intentional and deliberate about why you are doing them. First know what your Mission is overall, then identify the potential solution for problem or opportunity in your Objectives, followed by establishing how you plan on achieving the goal through your Strategy, which will ultimately dictate your tactics.
In application of the above example, partnering with the Salvation Army to sponsor volunteers for 1 location for 1 week to ring the red bell to collection donations was a proposed tactic for accomplishing the established Objective through the proposed Strategy.