Objectives are at the heart of everything we do. We use them to determine how successful our activities are. Yet many marketers fail in setting effective marketing objectives when they write a marketing plan.
Marketing objectives are goals, in a sense, telling us what needs to be accomplished by our activities in implementing the marketing plan. They help us determine how successful we are. However, bad objectives will get you nowhere at best, and sometimes they might create a wrong sense of accomplishment where there is none.
Keep this in mind, how can you plan a vacation to France if you don’t know where France is, how to get there, how long it will take you, and what to expect? Imagine doing it with incorrect information and end up in Minnesota, though you thought you were on your way to France.
TIP 1: Keep it real
It’s very important to be realistic when you set your marketing objectives. Don’t try to bite off more than you can handle. Under-promise and over-deliver works great in this concept.
This is a big point to take home for entrepreneurs who are getting started. Entering a market with huge competitors gives you an easy excuse to bite off way more than you can handle. You’re a baby in this situation, so take baby steps. Chip away small segments of market from your competition. Constant drop of water will mold a rock.
TIP 2: Make it measurable
Objectives help us determine degree of success of our marketing activities. For this reason they have to be measurable. If you can’t be clear about your progress and success you won’t be able to communicate with your client or boss. This ties in with Return on Investment (ROI). Being able to have solid numbers to support your success will make you look good. Having numbers, instead of proverbial “increased sales”, will make it easier to create visuals for presentations and communicate your success with other.
Using percent in this situation is not advisable, you need to be even more basic and to the point. Don’t be ambiguous, is a good way to put it. “Increase sales of CRM software from $100 million to $150 million” Bam! Clear, concise, and “spreadsheet” measurable.
TIP 3: Set a time limit
This ties in with the previous tip directly. You need to set a time limit upon which to gauge the success of the marketing efforts. Not only does it offer a specific measurement, but it also sets a deadline for these objectives. Once you reach the deadline you look back and use it as a measurement to see how successful your marketing efforts went.
You need to be specific in this case as well. You need a start and end date. Don’t use general business time frames such as quarters. Set regular dates to eliminate confusion. For example, January 1, 2011 to December 31, 2011.
TIP 4: Set a reference point
A reference point, or a benchmark, is past data upon which you measure your current success. In a nutshell, it puts your objective into context. For example, you can use last year’s sales, last quarter, or any other data that you might have. In our previous CRM software example, $100 million in sales was last year’s number. So, this year we need to reach that number and than keep going until we hit our new target – $150 million.
A good and effective marketing objective is realistic, measurable, has set time limit, and uses a reference point (benchmark).
Increase sales of CRM software from $100 million in 2010 to $150 million between January 1, 2011 to December 31, 2011.
Are your marketing objectives effective? Do you have any tips on setting good and effective marketing objectives? Share in comments please.
Photo by Volker Neumann