Previous two columns showed you how to prepare to take advantage of a down economy and weak competition by developing a simple but powerful marketing/communications strategic plan. If you’ve completed the plan, you should have a thorough understanding of your company’s Goals, Audiences, Messages and Vehicles. If you are sending the right Messages to the right Audiences, using the correct Vehicles you will achieve your Goals. However, the best strategic plan in the world is only as effective as the material that supports it. Regardless of whether or not your selected Vehicles are newspapers ads, radio spots, television ads, billboards, a website, direct mail, social networking or something else, you are only as good as the material your Audience receives. Today we begin another two-part column that focuses specifically on the tactical keys to successfully implementing your strategic plan. If all of the marketing materials that you develop meet the following criteria, you will have a successful marketing campaign. Successful marketing materials of all types (simply defined as those that achieve your goals) have the following four characteristics, what I call the Four C’s: Clarity, Consistency, Continuity and Creativity. We are going to start by discussing the importance of Clarity and Consistency. The next column will delve into Continuity and Creativity. Clarity is of critical importance and is broken into two segments: Clarity of Message and Clarity of Purpose. First, let’s look at Clarity of Message. Your Audience is bombarded with thousands of messages every day and for yours to break through the clutter and have the desired impact, you need to be very clear about what you want to say. I ask every client on every project a single question: “What single fact or idea should the audience remember or take away from the material?” You should be able to refer back to your previously developed Message (identified in the strategic planning session) to help you with this. Are you the fastest, bluest, cheapest or easiest or the only one that does “this,” or the first one who did “that”? What is your USP, your Unique Selling Point? Assuming (and it’s a fair assumption) that you can only tell someone one thing about your product or service, exactly what would it be? Now, focus on that, highlight that single thing and you have Clarity. Avoid the temptation to try and tell everyone everything. Second, Clarity of Purpose. What action do you want the reader, viewer or listener to take? Should they visit your website, call the 800#, stop by the store or clip a coupon? Don’t assume that they’ll know what to do or what you want them to do. Ask them and tell them. When you combine a clear Message with a clear call to action, you dramatically increase the odds of success. And Clarity is simple give your Audience a reason to take action and give them an action to take. Clarity leads to success. The second of the Four C’s is Consistency. This is often overlooked by those who manage their marketing and communication efforts as a series of individual projects rather than a campaign. Consistency means that you deliver the same Message across all channels: your website, ads (print and electronic), billboards, coupons, direct mail, sales meetings, executive speeches, employee newsletter, etc. If the Message you want to deliver is that you have the fastest gadget in the industry sell it! Use every opportunity to remind your Audience that you have the fastest gadget. In a surprisingly short period of time, something great is going to happen. Your customers and prospects are going to come to believe that you have the fastest gadget in the industry. As you develop new and improved marketing materials, you now have two criteria to judge them against. First, Clarity: Are you clear about the single message and the desired call to action? Second, Consistency: Does every marketing effort in your organization have the same Message? If you answer yes to both these questions, you are off to a great start. Next time, we’ll look at the final two criteria for developing a successful marketing campaign Continuity and Creativity. Scott Harris is the owner of Mustang Marketing, a full-service marketing agency serving the San Fernando Valley for more than 20 years. He can be reached at email address Scott@MustangMktg.com.