Setting objectives for your business is critical to prevent your business from drifting away from any sense of purpose and towards a direction of uncertainty. Objectives set the foundations towards growth and development, however, many people and businesses fail to set any reasonable and attainable objectives – that’s if they set any at all. This, in turn, can cause serious negative consequences for the individual or business in the long-term. They instead formalize critical business ideas and objectives on a short-term basis as they see them arise. What this does is leaves them open to making poor decisions in the short-term which negatively effects long-term prospects.
We are going to help you understand how to develop objectives that actually make a positive impact on both short-term and long-term development. And we need to make clear that we state objectives in a much broader sense, and not just marketing objectives. Apart from the crucial objectives setting, we will lay out a clear and concise plan that allows you to understand marketing strategy and tactical planning that can be relatable to any business, including yours!
Many of you may know the importance marketing has on a business but, do not possess the ability and knowledge to affect positive change – we are going to change that now!
This clear marketing plan guide will not only assist you in identifying critical objectives and developing strategic and tactical plans that will lead to more effective marketing endeavours but, also aid your creative input when producing collateral and any and all communications that your business may purpose. Specifically, we’ll explain to you how to create messages that align with your branding, that have a strategic value, and which is created to influence and affect change in behaviour.
For a more thorough understanding of essential marketing processes, we suggest that you read part 1 of this two-part marketing guide first. Part 1 explains in a clear and concise way how to analyse your business environment, which will present to you factors that can affect real change in your business. It will equip you with the understanding to develop your brand – specifically, it looks at identifying your target market in a detailed manner, so that your marketing strategy (part 2) is focused, relatable and effective.
We also show you how to develop a brand identity so that your positioning in the market is firm and that your “voice” or brand is clear to whom you seek to present to – this will allow your communication and messages (part 2) to align more consistently with greater result.
This is a critical part of start-ups and business seeking to expand into new markets. For established brands or businesses this will have less of importance but, it should still be carried out occasionally as markets do change and without a review, your business may face some difficult challenges at some point in the future and you may be left exposed.
(Consumption habits exist that limit the potential customer base of your target segment)
For each market segment that you have chosen (that’s if you have more than one) you need to identify all the factors that will limit their use in your businesses services or products. This step identifies whether the market segment that you have targeted has any short-term or long-term prospects in terms of potential sales turnover and market share increase. It will also identify whether there are factors that your market segment seek when utilising similar services or products in which you or your business will struggle to compete with. Ultimately, it shows the long-term viability of the market segment you have aimed your marketing efforts towards.
From this assessment, you will be able to determine whether your marketing efforts will be wasted on your chosen market segment or not. Secondly, where there are factors that limit your chances of securing a lead or sales with a given market segment, you should highlight these when building a market strategy so that you do not waste time and resources pursuing an individual or group that are likely to fall flat. Instead, focus your energy and resources on specific individuals or groups that do not fall into as many of the factors that are highlighted in this consumer constraints section.
Let’s take an example: if you are a business-to-business (b2b) company that sells advertising space to sports brands, and which the space that you sell is somewhat prestigious and high cost – your segment will be high-end premium sporting brands that are established or seeking to get a foothold in this marketplace. The consumer constraints could be business capital available – or lack of. They could also lack the operational capacity to meet the demands needed in terms of sales and turnover to justify the high costs of said advertising space – this, in particular, is true for a new sports brand that wants to enter the higher-end of the market. In the future when the sports brand develops, this may not be the case, and it may open them up to being viable consumers. But at this moment you need to identify who these companies or individuals are and opt instead to focus your time and resources on the company’s that have the capital available and the operational capacities to justify high advertising budgets.
Examples of consumer constraints:
- Capital available
- Cheaper sources of adverting available
- Operational capacity cannot meet demands
Factors That Motivate Your Consumers To Use Your Services/Product Instead of The Competition
This part can form the basis of where marketing activity stems from. If you can identify the factors that motivate the consumer to use your services, you could have the ability to influence the consumer decision making so that it draws them towards your services – increasing the effectiveness of your marketing should lead to an increase in sales.
Examples of factors that motivate consumers:
- Reassurance that your brand meets specifications/expectation
- Cost-benefit/Value: price reflects product/services offered or undercuts the competition (price leading) to which it is noticeable by consumers
- Brand conforms to personal beliefs/personality i.e using ethical brands
- First impressions: physical, verbal, digital – the landing page on your website
- SEO ranking
- Advertisements visible to consumers
- The strength of PR (have you seen United Airlines PR disaster?)
- Customer service
- Whether your business has specialist knowledge or specialises in a certain function
- The longevity of your service/product
- Integrity: can your consumer trust your business and does it show?
Sales and marketing go hand-in-hand. If you do not set marketing objectives from sales objectives you are simply wasting your time. The whole idea of developing a marketing strategy is to meet the sales objectives and if your sales objectives are vague with no clear, defined goals – such as ‘to increase sales’ – then you will be putting in a lot of time, money and resource into a ‘black hole’.
Sales objectives just like all objectives must be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time specific)
SMART goal setting brings about structure and trackability into your goals and objectives. Instead of vague intention, SMART goals create verifiably trajectories towards a specific objective, with identifiable milestones and an estimation of goal’s attainability. SMART objectives are one of the most effective tools for achieving goals, yet in the corporate world is one of the least used tools.
An Example of A Good SMART Sales Objective:
Let’s say month-on-month ‘Project A’ generates £100,000 in sales turnover. You are looking to increase this figure but, to what number? First look at what is attainable. If you have spent 50% of your time on ‘Project A’ and plan to appropriate another 25% of your time to this project, then maybe it’s feasible to attain £150,000 per month – that’s if time equates to higher sales turnover – it may not be the case in many instances. Then let’s say it will take you a few months to create real changes in the sale turnover, we now can decide upon realistic sales objectives…
The Sales Objective: To generate a minimum of £150,000 per month in sales turnover from ‘Project A’, within the next 3 months.
What are marketing objectives? Marketing objectives are specific goals that are set by a business with the aim of influencing individuals or groups. Specifically, marketing objectives focus on establishing changes in behaviour.
Setting marketing objectives is never a straightforward task as it involves some consideration. Your marketing objectives should be linked to your sales objectives as achieving the sales objectives is one of your ultimate goals. This is where analysis and strategy come into play.
First, look at each sales objectives individually. Determine what factors could go into attaining each sales objectives, then ascertain what resources and capabilities are available to you to attain those sales objectives. Once you have determined the resources and capabilities needed to attain each sales objectives, look at a number of resources and the level of capability needed to attain each goal or whether there is a combination of resources and capabilities needed to attain each sales goal. Finally, select the resources and capabilities available to you that are cost effective.
You should be setting SMART marketing objectives and goals just like the sale objectives, this will give your marketing objectives structure and trackability and it should link to the timeframe and goals of your sales objectives.
Take A Look At This List of Marketing Objectives:
- To capture a minimum of 0.00015% of the market share of sports advertising market within 3 months.
- To achieve a ranking on page two of Google organic search for the keyword term: sports advertising, within 2 months.
- Increase traffic to the website by 25% within the next 3 months.
- To increase social following from 10,000 to 15,000 over the next 3 months.
These are great examples of specific marketing objectives that could aid in achieving the sales objectives.
Marketing communication objectives focus on changing perceptions and emotion.
There are a number of models for sequential communication that we need to bear in mind when planning communications/messages so that the marketing efforts are concentrated and effective.
AIDA (Strong, 1925): Attention, Interest, Desire, Action.
(Cogtative – Affective – Cognative)
The base dimension is Cognitive, whereby the consumer is introduced to the product, gaining awareness, and knowledge. However, this itself does not give conviction towards a product. The next stage Affective is the establishment of emotional stimuli that perpetuates a connection and preference for a given product or brand. The final stage is the Conative, which delivers conviction and the desire to purchase a product.
For the objectives to be relevant and effective they need to stimulate these three behavioural dimensions, as these are the foundations of how consumers make purchasing choices. If you desire you could and often should create a campaign strictly directed to just one of these processes.
There are key factors that will prevent us from determining accurate percentages to target within the communications objectives. The main factor is the lack of sales figures that we have for the target market, with no recorded marketing efforts to use as performance indicators. Once marketing efforts are recorded we can use them in future marketing plans to determine a more valid target size for each marketing communication objective.
There is a very rough rule of thumb you can follow to help you finalize the link of your awareness, and attitude communication objectives to your target market, sales objectives, and marketing objectives. General principles are very difficult to provide when describing the relationship between awareness, attitude, purchase intent, and actual purchase. However this is a starting point for defining the total target market goals for the numeric links between target market awareness, attitude, and purchase intent up through purchase or sales is the “50 Percent Happening” premise.
As shown in the following table, this very subjective premise suggests that you begin with the percentage of the total target market that you project to purchase (including purchases, past purchases, and past non-purchases) and add 50 percent of each level to the next. There are more exceptions than rules to this premise, but it is a beginning sequence to follow if you have no data.
Target Market Affected
Percent (Market Share)
|Target market size||1900||
*Note that each row from purchase number down through awareness increases by 50 percent.
In reality, you would almost definitely require higher awareness number compared to what is shown in the table as these small numbers almost never convert to any meaningful engagement or a sale for that matter. However, this is relative to the industry or the target audience that you are marketing towards.
The Marketing Communication Objectives
- To increase brand awareness amongst the primary segment to 0.0005% within 2 months.
- Improve the value perception of our services from 0% of the primary market to 0.0003% over the next 2 months.
- Improve the perception that our company is innovative and cutting-edge in advertising solutions towards 0.0003% of the primary segment within 2 months.
- Increase the perception towards 0.0003% that we are experienced within our field over the next 3 months.
- To induce a positive emotional response towards 0.00015% of the primary segment that will move a potential client to contact us for a consultation, to fully comprehend the cost-benefit of the services offered, to which they become a client over the next 3 months.
- To maintain the belief from the clients that we have their needs at heart, and that they will continue to help and service them with little disruption and with utmost integrity, so that the clients may one-day request additional services from us. This will be toward 100% of the clients serviced over the next 3 months.
You message strategy could be built around a number of premises. The first, you could develop a message based on the core persona and essence of your business. This is to an extent the brand message – what is it that the brand stands for and represents? To answer this question and to make sure that you are consistent with the message throughout all planned communications, take a look at (part 1) of this two-part marketing plan guide and specifically look at the ‘Developing Your Brand Platform‘ section. You should be able to use that section to decide upon the key brand messages that you want to propagate to your target market – this can be both a ‘soft’ branding aspect but, also from more technical aspect – such as the services you provide.
An example of the where ‘soft’ branding comes into play is when rival competitors that have identical services at the same pricing, can only differentiate by their brand identity (persona) and not by any tangible differences. Their message strategy in this instance would likely be focused on highlighting the brand’s persona, essence, beliefs, and promise but, they could still create messages that highlight the key tangible aspect of the business – such as the quality of the services offered and pricing.
The second premise could be structured towards specific campaign based messages. The types of messages may still and often do carry the ‘core’ brand message, but also includes a message with the purpose to change perceptions and hopefully behaviour within their target audience – based on timely campaign goals and objectives. For a campaign based message strategy, you need to determine the key features that should be communicated to the target audience so that it influences the audience, changes perception and then behaviour – this should all be focused on obtaining the goals set out in the marketing communication objectives.
A campaign based message strategy can be further and should be further developed. Looking at the AIDA (Strong, 1925) concept in the previous section, you can make campaigns tailored toward each stage of the journey that the audience follows to become a customer. From the Cognitive (Awareness/learning), to Affective (Feeling/interest/desire), to Conative (Behaviour/action e.g. purchase/ trial/ consumption/ sharing information/ usage). If you create campaigns that are designed specifically for each stage that the audience is in, the message will become more clear, the campaign will be more effective in influencing the audience and often this approach will be more cost-effective too.
How would you create a campaign for each stage of the AIDA model? To influence each stage of the model you need to consider what factors motivate the audience to move through to the next stage.
Take a look at each stage of the AIDA model: Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action. A rough starting point for each type of campaign has been laid out below:
Awareness: The campaign may focus on the brand persona, identify, and essence.
Interest: The campaign may highlight key features of the product or service offered.
Desire: The campaign may highlight value, consumer benefits, differentiation from the competition.
Action: The campaign may give the audience a sense of urgency and/or direct them to the point-of-sale.
Try listing a few messages that you want your audience to understand from your communications. Examples from a sports advertisement company may look like this:
Branding message: We are a premium brand with a modern, innovative outlook.
A campaign based message on the ‘Desire’ stage of AIDA model: We will give you access to more of your target audience than any of our competition, and at the lowest price.
Remember that messages can be visual, verbal or communicated through other means – your job, no matter what medium you utilise must ensure that you produce a clear message that your audience can decipher, for your communication to be effective.
Time to get creative! Turn those messages into something great. Images, advertisements, blog-post, press-releases, the list goes on…
To help you craft your communication we must fully recognize the tone and style so that any messages – copy or visual designs – are coordinated into one effort that aims to fulfil the overall message strategy and reinforce your positioning.
We use appeals in messages to give ‘style’. Some common appeals are as follows:
- Emotional Appeal (personal, social, fear, humour)
- Sex Appeal
- Music Appeal
- Scarcity Appeal
- Rational Appeal
- Brand Appeal
- Adventure Appeal
- Bandwagon Appeal
- Youth Appeal
- Plain Appeal
- Statistic Appeal
- Endorsement Appeal
- Masculine/ Feminine Appeal
- Sensitivity Appeal
Carefully constructed message appeals will affect the behavioural response of the consumer, which will aid in achieving the communication objectives, so keep these in mind. Make sure they are appropriate for your brand and product/service too, established global brands have made poor choices in the past when choosing appeals for advertisements, leading to PR disasters.
Listed below are 19 different marketing strategy considerations:
- Target market strategies
- Pricing strategies: Low cost or differentiation?
- Building the market or stealing market share?
- National, regional, and local market strategies
- Growth and product strategies
- Naming strategies
- Packaging strategies
- Seasonality strategies
- Spending strategies
- Competitive strategies
- Distribution of product and penetration or coverage strategies
- Personal selling, service, and operations strategies
- Promotions and events strategies
- Advertising strategies
- Media strategies
- Interactive media strategies
- Merchandising strategies
- Public relations strategies
- Marketing research and testing (R&T) strategies
Your marketing strategy will depend upon a number of criteria. First, the strategy must be able to meet the objectives. This means developing a strategy that gives you access to your target audience in the most effective and cost-effective means. Following from this your marketing strategy must conform to your marketing budget set.
Using the list of marketing strategy considerations you should decide upon the most effective means to engage your audience. The strategy considerations often integrate with one another in the wider strategy. For example pricing strategies – where a product could be of low-cost, may integrate into advertising strategies at some point, specifically during a marketing campaign, to promote the products low-cost feature.
Your strategy should start becoming clearer at this stage as long as you have followed this guide through vigorously including part 1. Developing the strategy is based on these logical steps laid out previous and applying rational thought to determine how to attain the objectives with your budget, time, resources and other expertise available – though I understand it’s never as simple to apply this!
Let’s use an example to better understand marketing strategy development: Almost any business will and should have an interactive media strategy. Without an online presence such as a website, your business will seem either a bit of a dinosaur or not a legitimate business. For this reason, we will go through some basic elements that you could include into your marketing strategy, in particular, the interactive media strategy.
Interactive Media Strategy (for a sports advertising brand):
- Utilise the company website to funnel leads and convert them into customers.
- The website will be the ‘centre’ for all of our communications efforts. Any external vehicles will aim to direct the audience to the website as there is complete control over the message communicated to the audience without interference from a third party.
- The website should direct the audience to a clear call to action (CTA), to further engage them and bring the audience through from the cognitive state through to the affective, so that they better understand the services offered. This may be aided by using a blog to better facilitate the desire to choose the services offered, by supplying them with information that would entice them somehow.
- For the website we should create a clear and inviting call to action (CTA) and direct the audience to further communications by either personalized emailing or personal selling; through contacting the company by telephone. Due to the type of business, a sale will only be carried out through two-way dialogue, fully discussing cost-benefits and technical specifications in a professional manner. Once at this point, we can influence the potential client to a larger extent, therefore the emphasis on the CTA is imperative.
- Social media will carry communications and will lead in reaching and building an audience. Here we will create awareness of the brand and services and stimulate discussions and positive behaviour towards the brand and services. Social networks such as Twitter and LinkedIn would be the predominant used social networks as they are directed towards and have a large business-to-business (b2b) client base.
- Create promotional campaigns that satisfy each stage of the AIDA model so that the audience gets drawn through the sales funnel to the point-of-sale.
Tactical plans involve the nitty-gritty. How are you going to achieve the strategic objectives and what timeframes or schedules are you going to use – these are just some of the considerations needed in tactical planning.
To execute your objectives marketers use the marketing mix (also known as the 4 P’s). They are the set of controllable tactical marketing tools that a company uses to produce the desired response from its target market.
The Marketing Mix:
- Payment periods
- Credit terms
- Public Relations
- Direct Marketing
- Sales Promotion
- Personal Selling
- Interactive Media
How should you use the marketing mix? The product and pricing will usually be determined by your positioning (check part 1 of this 2 part marketing plan guide to find your positioning), however, this is not always the case.
One such example is a premium brand offering short-term discounts on products to increase purchasing by consumers, who would not otherwise buy the product at its original price. The marketers aim here may be to increase market share by enticing these new consumers to repurchase in the future, once the discount has expired.
Your product, brand, and pricing should already be established and your target market should be chosen and understood, especially at this late stage of the marketing planning process. However, it’s always a good exercise to double-check that your product and pricing align with your chosen target market and that they will aid in securing the objectives set.
You need to be able to get your product to the right people, and there are many methods to achieve this. ‘Place‘ in the ‘4 P’s’ is critical not only to get the product to the intended people but, the control you have on the final ‘presentation’ and delivery of your product.
You may want your product in every shop to give it the biggest reach – sales may increase somewhat because of this, however, being ‘everywhere’ may taint the brand’s image as being too accessible. There’s the factor that if you try to pursue this way of thinking, you may lose some control over the final delivery and presentation of the product and brand towards the consumers of the product. An example here would be wholesalers – they increase your reach but, you may be sacrificing the brand’s image with the consumer who interacts with the wholesalers, as these wholesalers may not and usually won’t be trained to promote the brand exactly to your specifications.
Third parties have their own agenda, so you need to decide whether the brand and sales would perform better if the distribution was more controlled. Apple Inc is a great example of this; they have their own Apple store’s all around the world, where their Genius’ promote the products to specifications laid out by Apple’s corporate team.
The promotion that makes up one of the 4 P’s is perhaps where many of you will be requiring assistance. Promotion is often perceived as the only aspect that marketers deal with in their field of work, which just isn’t the case, as you now know.
How should you start with promotion planning within the tactical plan? Establish and review your budgets allocated for promotion, that is the first step. Choose the most cost-effective means of promotion, this is the best advice for long-term success when promoting your brand, service, or product. Take Jared Kushner who ran Trump’s presidential campaign ‘like a Silicon Valley startup’ as a great example of cost-effective marketing. The goal would be to establish the lowest cost per acquisition (CPA) possible.
At times you may want to spend ‘big’ on advertising campaigns such as broadcast media (TV and radio) which may help ‘jump start’ brand awareness. This is fine if you have the budgets available, the expertise to make effective advertising campaigns and a strategy that utilizes that campaign to drive sales in the long-term.
Many startups would be better off including more focused promotion tools into their tactical plans such as pay-per-click campaigns as they are targeted, scalable, cost-effective, and comes with an abundance of data that can be utilised to make better data-driven marketing decision for long-term success.
Examples of Marketing Tactics:
(Using a sports advertising brand as an example)
- Create a social media awareness campaign directed towards the chosen target market with a £1000 budget set for 3 months. Using Twitter and LinkedIn to target employees working for sports brands, in particular, the target audience would be marketing managers, marketing directors or other key decisions makers. Set the advertising campaigns to deliver with ‘working hours’ to maximise the reach of these key players and to minimise cost.
Let’s explained why this marketing tactic was chosen: In the marketing objectives section of this guide, the example states ‘To increase social following from 10,000 to 15,000 over 3 months‘. Using the tactic above they should hopefully meet one of their marketing objectives. We also now need to consider whether a £1000 budget is enough. It depends on your company’s circumstance, your audience, and the effectiveness of your Twitter and LinkedIn campaigns to engage. Higher engagement rates will lead to lower cost per head overall – so, go and test multiple adverts to find the most cost-effective, then scale this up.
Now check the marketing communication objectives in this plan…the example set states ‘To increase brand awareness amongst the primary segment to 0.0005% within 2 months’. We know that 0.005% equates to just over 8 people so that said, they have far exceeded one of their communications objectives by 4992 people, just doing one promotional activity alone.
As you should have grasped by now – awareness doesn’t mean conversion into paying customers. A higher awareness may lead to more conversion but, often the conversion rate remains consistent somewhat when scaled. Your next activity would be to take these people that are in your sphere of influence (followers) and conduct follow-up campaigns to get more of these to convert to paying customers.
- Create a selection of blog posts over the next 3 months such as case studies that show how the company has improved the bottom line of our clients. Post on social media throughout the day with the aim that our followers will click and read them. Post just before the ‘working day’ begins to catch those who read through their social media accounts before work and subsequently post during ‘breaks’ – such as between 12-1 and during other peak times throughout the day. Vary the content type and test to see the most effective. Place a clear call-to-action on each blog post to get readers to further engage with us with the aim to convert them.
Justification of this marketing tactic: It supports the marketing objective ‘Increase traffic to the website by 25% within the next 3 months‘ it also supports the marketing objective ‘To capture a minimum of 0.00015% of the market share of sports advertising market within 3 months‘. In respect to the marketing communication objectives, this marketing tactic will support the ability to achieve many of the set marketing communication objectives – with the aim to change perception and emotion – this tactic does just that.
Remember, your strategy and tactics must be able to meet your objectives!
Evaluating Your Marketing Activities
If you cannot monitor your marketing activity and analyse your results then you may be wasting your time and money. Use key metrics available to you to make data-driven decisions, this will lead to cost-effective campaigns and better allocation of budgets and other resources in the long-term.
Below are key indicators that may be used to assess the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns:
These measures may include:
- Leads (qualifies enquires)
- Customer retention and loyalty, including lifetime value
- Online market (or audience share)
- Brand enhancement
- Customer service
Digital Marketing Effectiveness
Key performance indicators (KPIs) for an online presence include:
- Unique visitors- the number of separate, individual visitors to the site
- Total number of sessions or visits to the website
- Repeat visits- average number of visits per individual
- Duration- average length of time visitors spend on the site
- Subscription rates (opt-in emails, newsletters and the response rates for these e-newsletters
- Conversion rates- the percentage of visitors converting to subscribers (or becoming customers)
- Attrition rates through the online buying process
- Churn rates- percentage of subscribers withdrawing or unsubscribing
- Click-through rates (CTR) from third-party sites to your own
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