13 Platinum Ways to
Set Your Marketing Objectives
A base in Direct Marketing is having a measurable set of objectives. A direction. A focus. A reason for creating your marketing program
in the first place. Something to accomplish.
It's not so important what your objectives are. It is very
important you have some. It's not key that you reach all your objectives,
either. It is key you know if you reach them or not. The real
tragedy of any program is not in not reaching your goal. The real
tragedy is in having no goal to reach.
So, to assure success, you must have a specific set of Marketing Objectives.
Toward this end I've pulled together A Baker's Dozen collection of
ideas to guarantee you will;
Objective Concept #1 - Good Objectives must be brief enough to be
Length or volume is not the issue. Quality - not quantity - is.
Your objectives should easily fit on one side of one piece of paper.
Very possibly half a sheet of paper. Or even less.
Marketing Objectives come close to a mission statement in concept.
At least they are to support or carry out your corporate mission statement.
When your objectives are short they are much more likely to be understood.
And they are much easier to change as your marketplace changes. As
you will change them!
Objective Concept #2 - Good Objectives must be clear enough to be
And I might add, not so vague they are un-measurable.
Saying "I wish to increase sales" is not stating an objective.
A dream, yes. A hope, maybe. A desire, sure. An objective ... no!
Objectives are much more specific in detail and direction.
Each objective for each program and project must be so clear that
everyone in your organization understands it with a single reading.
And no further explanation.
i.e., simple words, short phrases, maybe a few bullet points. Brief
and clear - so those who must make it happen know what to do, when
to do it, how to do it, and the budget available to make it happen.
Objective Concept #3 - Good Objectives must be flexible enough to
allow adaptation to the current circumstances
Ready ... Aim ... Fire!
And then evaluate. As it is very likely in this fast paced and changing
marketing world in which we live, you will need to change your objectives,
In some organizations this is a tough call. You plan 6-12-18 months
ahead - and now you need to make a change. For some that is a nearly
impossible task. As "The Plan" says one thing ... and now
you want to do something else. Yet, being adaptable is a mandatory
trait for successful DM in the 21st Century. Meaning, your objectives
must be flexible.
Objective Concept #4 - Good Objectives must be clearly defined &
Here are a few examples of what you may have as a clearly defined
...a specific per-centage of market share or market penetration
- as long as you translate the per-cent to money in sales &
... a level of sales turnover by product or product group
...a set number of new accounts within a certain time frame
... a specific number of revived accounts over the next calendar
or fiscal year
...break into X number of new business or SIC codes during a set
... begin operations in specific and new marketplaces geographically
...establish a rate of financial growth from your current customers.
Each of these objectives is clear enough to define with numbers or
money or both. And you can "prove" each within a certain
Objective Concept #5 - Good Objectives must be important enough to
help you reach your overall goals
H. L. Hunt summed it up as well as anyone when he says . . .
I. Decide what you want to do, set your objectives
II. Decide what you'll give up to get those objectives
III. Decide your priorities as they relate to all you want to or
need to do against those objectives, and
IV. Get on about your work.
Of course, what Hunt did not say is that you do need to be walking
in the right direction to begin. Almost anyone can get from here to
there ... yet, is 'there' where you need to be? If not, don't go that
way. Even if the ride will be fun. And maybe even profitable.
Be certain your objectives are designed to get you to where you need
Objective Concept #6 - Good Objectives must be specific - numeric
... and, not per-cents.
Why? Because everyone cheats with per-centages. I have - you have
- everyone has. We use per-centages when we don't like real
numbers. Real, live numbers are facts. Per-cents are generic. Use
real numbers to achieve real objectives.
One way to help cement real vs. generic is to ask questions. Ask "What
market share - how much?" Ask "What increase - how much?
Ask "Where?" Ask "What markets? Which consumers?"
When you have specific objectives you can look for specific answers.
Objective Concept #7 - Good Objectives must be measurable
"More" only sets the direction. It does not say how far.
Frequently in marketing & sales we talk about an increase over
the last quarter or last year results. This is fine - as long as you
put specific monies and/or numbers against "more". Plus,
we must include a timetable.
"More" can be . . .
- Number of units, or customers, or prospects or almost anything
- Return On Investment figures, what you will earn back, and by
- Cost-to-sales ratio, a fraction figure, maybe a per-cent, converted
to how much does it cost to get the first sale, and then the second
...at some point the Life Time Value number is known
- Market share - what do we have vs. the competition, vs. what is
available in the total marketplace
- Money - the bottom line end measurement ... did we make a profit.
If you can't measure it you can't improve it. Objectives must be measurable.
Objective Concept #8 - Good Objectives must be realistic
Tough is fine. Standing on your tip-toes is good. Reaching for the
stars is AOK. Yet, at some point enough is enough - and realism must
take over. What can you really achieve within a timeframe must
become a part of your planning.
If it takes 16 months to reach a 12 month objective, something is
wrong. If you get to your yearly goal by May or June, then your objectives
were probably too easy. If you feel your goals are real, yet, you
don't have the needed resources of time AND money AND people to carry
them out, then they are not.
With time and experience you learn what is a good objective - and
what is not.
Practice, practice, practice.
Objective Concept #9 - Good Objectives must have a timetable to be
And a reasonable timetable, too.
Never have I worked a program without a schedule. Frequently the time
has been just fine ... on paper. And then something slips, falls through
the crack, a mistake happens, something "breaks" or someone
has a problem, and the timeframe expands. Now there is insufficient
time to do it right.
No matter what you do, you will never have enough time to do everything
you think you need to do to make your program "perfect".
So, know at some point you'll need to toss in the towel and "go"
with what you have. Most often you'll be just fine ... if you planned
from the top.
Objective Concept #10 - Good Objectives must be compatible with all
your marketing efforts
Objectives are not manna. They are not the answer to "your problem".
Objectives are simply a direction. A focus. A strategy that needs
a tactic to make it happen. To get you to where you have decided you
need to be. They are part of your overall marketing plan.
Your advertising, PR, sales promotion, merchandising and direct marketing
must mesh together. If they are each going their own way - like the
tentacles of an octopus - there will be a problem.
Make certain all your marketing programs are compatible with each
Objective Concept #11- Good Objectives must be compatible with your
corporate management direction
And, then make certain your marketing objectives are compatible with
your corporate management objectives.
i.e., they are holding hands. Walking the same path. Looking the same
direction. Putting first things first in marketing in the same order
as management has first things first. Remember marketing folks, management
still signs the checks. Get yourself on the same page as the boss
and you're probably going to be just fine. Go another way and you'll
probably have a big time problem.
Make certain you weave your marketing into the fabric of your total
Objective Concept #12 - Good Objectives help you set your marketing
& management priorities
Seth Godin of Permission Marketing fame has an interesting
line in his book Survival Is Not Enough;
"Criticize an idea based on how well it meets its objectives.
If you don't like the objectives, criticize those separately."
It is expected you will not always agree with your corporate objectives.
And it is expected management will not always agree with how you are
marketing to meet objectives. That's just the way it is - has been
- will be.
Now, with that understood and out of the way, use your knowledge to
achieve. Understand management many times looks at marketing as a
cost, vs. an investment. Which it truly is.
And marketers (like you and me!) look at management as having thrown
a blanket over our mind, our thinking, our creativity. Plus, they
gave us too little time and far too little money. Then knowthat's
just the way it is - has been - will be.
With this understanding you're much more likely to set objectives
that meet corporate goals - and get them in priority order.
Objective Concept #13 - Good Objectives must be put on paper - in
Objectives must be in writing. It is not an option - it is a fact.
Still, I teasingly suggest you write them in pencil - as you will
change them. Because of a competitive move. Or something you develop.
Or an industry, government, social or economic action.
Unless they are in writing, you have nothing to change. You are without
a strong guide. Others who are part of your team and company are without
a reference point.
Putting them in writing does not make your objectives 'gospel'. It
does make them accountable. And your entire marketing team, too.
Well, that's it. 13 Platinum Ways to Set Your Marketing Objectives.
Another in the Baker's Dozen Collection. For more marketing ideas,
- where there are hundreds of articles, tips and stories.
For more ideas specifically on objectives go to my book Power
Direct Marketing. Online at http://www.rayjutkins.com/pdm/pdm02-01.html