Have you ever embarked upon a new whizz bang marketing program without first sitting down and plotting out your marketing objectives? I know I have.
Have you ever decided that you need a brand new website, or a new set of brochures, without first taking stock to determine how all this new marketing collateral will actually improve the bottom-line of your business? I know I have.
We’ve all been there. It’s easy to do. But let’s make a pact. Let’s not rush headlong into expensive (and sometimes extraneous) marketing campaigns anymore. Instead, let’s promise each other that we will first sit down and plot out our marketing objectives from now on. It’s easy to do (particularly with our how to guide below).
Do we have a deal?
What are Marketing Objectives?
Simply put, marketing objectives clearly define exactly what it is that you want to accomplish by implementing marketing activities. Marketing objectives are a set of goals that should be achieved by a business within a specified timeframe, in the promotion of its products or services.
Marketing objectives might include areas like increasing product awareness amongst a specific target market, increasing brand awareness, or educating consumers about product functionality and features. The list is endless.
The Importance of Setting Marketing Objectives
It is essential to understand the importance of setting objectives for your marketing activities. Understanding the importance of setting objectives will help you set meaningful goals and create marketing campaigns that are linked back to your broader business objectives. It will ensure that you create marketing campaigns that demonstrably contribute to the bottom-line of your business.
Setting marketing objectives is important because:
- Clear objectives provide a specific, unified target for you and your team to work towards, focusing all marketing activities on one outcome and eradicating inefficient use of resources and budgets.
- Specific objectives ensure that your business and employees have a clear, defined direction, and know how to achieve greatness.
- Objectives motivate leaders and employees, acting as powerful catalyst when it comes to rewarding employees for successful project completion.
- Most importantly, marketing objectives provide a means by which to evaluate the success of a project, and learn from your mistakes.
Factors to Consider When Setting Your Marketing Objectives
To ensure that you are setting effective marketing objectives, there are a number of important factors to keep in mind. And, there is a handy little acronym to help you remember exactly what these factors are. You need to ensure that your marketing objectives are SMART: Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.
Taking the SMART approach to setting marketing objectives will ensure that your marketing activities are managed effectively. Best of all, you’ll be able to determine how successful your marketing activities have been, and whether you have delivered the benefits you were after in the first place.
Let’s take a look at each characteristic one-by-one.
Specific: Have you crafted your marketing objectives precisely? Have you stated exactly what it is that you are hoping to achieve? Objectives should not be vague or overarching or too broad. Ask yourself:
- Exactly what is it that I am going to do?
- Who is my target audience?
- Have I used verbs (doing words)?
- Will my objectives lead to the outcomes I want and need?
Measurable: You need to be able to quantify each and every marketing objective. Ask yourself whether you can use a unit of measurement to determine the level of success in meeting your objective. Can you measure a market share percentage or increased revenue figures? Ask yourself:
- How will I measure the success of my marketing activities?
- How will I know whether my activities have had any impact?
- Realistically, can I get my hands on this data?
Achievable: You need to be able to complete your objectives within a reasonable amount of time. If your marketing objectives are too complex, or focus too much on long-term goals, break them down into simpler, shorter-term goals. Ask yourself:
- What are the specific tasks I need to undertake?
- Do I need to break these tasks into smaller, easy-to-implement jobs?
Realistic: Be realistic. Are your objectives reasonable? Or are you setting your sights too high? If you’re a brand new start-up with no market share at all, setting a target of $10 million in revenue within the first six months is probably fairly unrealistic. Set targets that your employees are going to have a chance of meeting. Ask yourself:
- Is this really even possible?
- Can I actually get this finished within my proposed timeframe?
- Can I overcome any problems, issues or constraints?
- Do I have the resources and budget for this?
- Have any of my competitors been able to do this?
Timely: Give yourself an end date. Don’t make marketing objectives open-ended. You need to determine when you want to achieve your objectives by. Then, when you reach that end date, measure your success rate. Learn from your mistakes and implement a new, improved marketing campaign, with new objectives. Ask yourself:
- Have I given myself a specific deadline?
- Is that deadline really achievable?
So, now that we’ve got all that straight, let’s take a look at some examples of SMART objectives, and some that are perhaps not-quite-so-intelligent.
Not so good: Increase brand awareness.
Spot on: Achieve 50% brand awareness among target market with 18 months.
Not so good: Increase profits.
Spot on: Increase sales by 30% by 31 July 2014.
Not so good: Grow each year.
Spot on: Attain constant annual growth of 10% revenue during each year of operation.
One last tip, once you have set your marketing objectives, take the time to explain them to your employees. Demonstrate to your employees how they can make a valuable contribution to achieving these objectives. Provide employee incentives for delivering on challenges. Get everyone involved, and make everyone responsible, for the success of your business. Engaged employees are higher performing employees. Higher performing employees mean a more successful business for you.
P.S. Don’t forget about our pact!
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