A marketing or communications plan can be like an octopus. There can be lots of tentacles going in many different directions. You jot down notes. You hash out ideas. And you go around and around in meetings that never seem to end.

Almost everyone talks about the first necessary component of marketing anything, be it a product, service or event. That component, of course, would be: Who is the intended target audience?

But here’s the question that is often forgotten when developing any marketing or communication plan: “For us to call this a success, what results are needed?”

This is a question that must be addressed early. Very early. Like, right after the target audience question. Include this as part of your early marketing or communications planning and you will be well on your way to setting targets and building a plan to reach them. The key words here are success and results.

Don’t just think in terms of financials or attendance. Think in terms of specifics. Maybe, if it’s communications oriented, you want to achieve three feature stories in local media. If it’s marketing related, you might want to capture 1500 email addresses for a mailing list.

Yes, it’s basically goal-setting. But this is about getting more specific. So, go ahead, ask yourself “For us to call this a success, what results are needed?”