Ray worked with B-2-B and Consumer clients throughout the world ... including USA, Canada, Mexico, Asia, the South Pacific, Europe, the Middle-East, Central & South America, Africa.

This website is a compilation of Ray's 10 years on the Web.


Power Direct Marketing: The Book

Focus. Direction. Setting Objectives.

Objectives is the first point of The 8ight Point Market Action Plan. You need objectives. I need objectives. A company needs objectives. Focus and direction come as the result of setting specific objectives. And from objectives come accomplishment. Things get done because a plan is put in place to do something.

Objectives provide a feeling of progress. They reduce the wandering-about approach to achieve your goals. The "shoot from the hip" philosophy.

Having objectives eliminates the reaction to the "current situation" practice that far too many companies use as a method for setting direction. Doing activities in response to marketplace activity is a way of becoming just like the rest of the pack. Having objectives helps you get from where you are to where you need to be.

At DuPont, each communications manager has the responsibility of providing a "direction sheet" at the start of each new project. A sheet which provides focus and direction for that particular program.

The purpose is to be very specific with the information so the creative group will know what is expected. Here are some of the things that are addressed and answered.

  • What is the product? What are the features and benefits of this product?
  • What is the marketing purpose of this program? What do we want and expect to happen? What are the objectives?
  • Who is the target audience? Who are we talking to?
  • What are the needs of this audience?
  • What is the SINGLE, most important IDEA to convey?
  • What are the other copy points in order of importance?
  • What do we want the reader to do? What type of action is requested?
  • What is the timing for all of this?
  • What is the budget?

If appropriate, additional information on any ideas for media and creative direction, graphic, copy, and legal requirements; how we plan to measure the results; supporting details about the competition, distribution, and sales might all be included. A very complete overview. With focus and direction. A good way to do business.

Few people would question the necessity of setting goals in marketing. If for no other reason, to avoid the Ready—Fire—Aim possibility.

What’s negative about Ready—Fire—Aim? If you’re making a good offer to a specific marketplace why not just do it? For the same reason a rocket shot to the moon must be heading in the right direction when it leaves earth, you too must have your objectives in order before you jump into the marketplace.

With the sophisticated technology that is available today it is possible to push buttons and pull levers here on earth and change the direction of a rocket, alter its projectile around the earth, turn cameras on and off—even land on the moon. And return. BUT ONLY BECAUSE THE ROCKET WAS HEADING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION FROM THE START.

Ditto for direct marketing objectives. Once you set them you can change or alter them. Improve or eliminate or add to. But only when you’re heading in the right direction from the beginning.

Your objectives must be:

  1. Brief enough to be understood
  2. Clear enough to be acted upon
  3. Flexible enough to allow adaptation to the circumstances

Only when you’ve planned your program thoroughly from the beginning will you truly be in a Ready—Aim—Fire mode.

Most of us recognize the value of planning, of setting objectives, of setting a direction. However, there is more involved with this process than many believe. Or wish to take the time to learn and implement.

Here are some key questions to ask—and answer!—as you set objectives for your company, your product, and your service:

  1. Does our company offer a discernible advantage over what is available from the competition?
  2. Is our company’s advantage important to the market—do they know—do they care?
  3. Does our product/service offer a distinct advantage?
  4. Is the product/service advantage important to the market?
  5. Are we the industry follower or the industry leader?
  6. Are we a new entry with this product? Into this market?
  7. Are we aggressively aiming to take business from the competition?
  8. Can we withstand retaliation to our approach—can we take the heat?

Before any marketing or advertising program is begun, most people have a basic idea of what they want to achieve. Goals are often expressed in rather vague terms—which may be a mixture of overall corporate, marketing, and advertising objectives.

For example, an objective "to increase sales" is not particularly useful. By how much do you want to increase sales? In which specific product areas? Everywhere, or only in certain geographic regions?

Your objectives must be defined, documented, specific, and numeric. You may want to set objectives to achieve goals such as these:

  • A specific percentage of market share or market penetration—as long as you can translate the percent to dollars in sales and in profits.
  • A level of sales turnover by product or product group.
  • A set number of new accounts, within a time frame.
  • A specific number of revived accounts over the coming calendar year.
  • Break into new SIC codes during the next fiscal year.
  • Get into a set number of new marketplaces geographically, i.e., expand your reach.
  • Establish a rate of financial growth from current customers.

It is important to quantify your objectives. Where goals are not defined in specific terms, it is almost impossible to measure performance. And in direct marketing, "If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it." A quote from Alex d’Arbeloff, President of Teradyne.

YOU must set your objectives, define your goals, determine what you want to achieve. No one from outside your company can begin to decide what your objectives should be. Only you can do that most important task.

Why do I so strongly state that you must be responsible for setting your objectives? Why do I suggest that to do otherwise is unwise?

Because my experience has been such that every time I helped set objectives for a company the plan failed to materialize. And in the few instances where a plan began, it never finished.

Reason? I think it is because there was no blood, sweat, and tears in the effort. It is folly to think that anyone from outside your organization can tell you inside your organization what your goals ought to be. And that’s what objectives are—goals. Specifics to accomplish. Mountains to climb, rivers to cross.

How can anyone—even me!—tell you what your marketing goals for the next year should be? Objectives must be set by those persons who have the responsibility to make them happen.

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