Tackling Your Marketing Plan: Marketing Goals

Tackling Your Marketing Plan: Marketing Goals

[This is the second post in our four-part series on marketing plans. Click here for the first post.]

 

Your business' mission and vision statements explain why your business exists and what it does. They explain your business' purpose. They are the framework from which your marketing goals are formulated.

People often mix up the two terms – mission and vision. However, what you need to know is that a short ‘vision statement’ is usually one sentence, or even just a few words, that tell the high level view of who you are. Your mission statement can be a tiny bit longer, preferably just a few sentences at most; giving a little more information about your company’s purpose. You'll have plenty of opportunities to explain in more detail what your business does as you implement other parts of your marketing plan.

 

Your mission and vision statements should explain who you provide value to, how you provide this value, and, like your unique value proposition (UVP), what makes you unique. It's less specific and comprehensive than your UVP and more about the image of your company.

Four key elements of a winning vision or mission statement:

  • Specific – Avoid language that is vague or that doesn't tell the customer anything. If it could apply to any company in the world, or even any company in your industry, keep refining it.
  • Concise – There should be no fluff. Every word in your mission statement should mean something. Your statement doesn't have to be short necessarily, but every word should count.
  • Clear – No matter how clever or artistic your idea may be, it needs to be clear and easy to understand for the customer. It's better to be obvious than obscure.
  • Exciting – This is difficult to pinpoint exactly, but a good mission statement gets the reader excited. Try telling a story, inspiring emotions, and sparking interest with your statement. Ask others to read it in order to get their objective opinion.

Here are a few examples of mission and vision statements from brands you know:

Vision statements

  • Google – "To organize the world's information and make it universally acceptable and useful."
  • Amazon – "Our vision is to be Earth's most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online."
  • Nike - "To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world."

Mission statements

  • McDonalds – "To provide the fast food customer with food prepared in the same high-quality manner worldwide that is tasty, reasonably-priced and delivered.”
  • Starbucks – "Our mission: to inspire and nurture the human spirit one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time."
  • Aflac – "To combine aggressive strategic marketing with quality products and services at competitive prices to provide the best insurance value for consumers."

ACTIVITY >>> Download and use this Tackling Your Marketing Plan: Marketing Goals Worksheet to write your business' vision and mission statements.

ASSESSING YOUR BUSINESS

Your marketing plan should include an assessment of your business. A good way to do this is through a SWOT analysis, an examination of your business in terms of four factors – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

Conducting a SWOT analysis serves as an important part of your business' foundation. If you think SWOT analyses aren't for creative entrepreneurs, you would be wrong. A SWOT analysis can provide a comprehensive overview of the internal and external positioning a business has within the marketplace, regardless of what type of business it is, which is why they're commonly included in marketing plans.

In case you haven't conducted one before...

  • A SWOT analysis is a 2 x 2 matrix. Strengths are listed in the upper left quadrant. Weaknesses are in the top right. Opportunities are listed in the bottom left and threats are in the bottom right.
  • The left-hand column has factors that are helpful in reaching your business goals (strengths and opportunities). The right-hand lists factors that are potentially harmful (weaknesses and threats).
  • The top two quadrants include internal factors (strengths and weaknesses) and the bottom two quadrants include external factors (opportunities and threats).

SWOT-Graphic

STRENGTHS  Your strengths are your business' strongest qualities. These are both tangible and intangible positive attributes. A good way to brainstorm strengths is to look for areas where you excel over your competitors.

  • Keen understanding of niche
  • Highly recognizable brand with strong following
  • Staff who are committed to the your vision
  • Low production costs
  • Years of experience delivering quality products and services

WEAKNESSES  These are qualities that are under your control but stand in the way of achieving your goals or gaining a competitive advantage. Try to make an honest assessment and don't let pride get in your way. Identifying these areas of weakness is the first step in improving them.

  • Lack of relevant experience
  • Limited resources
  • Lack of access to new technology
  • Small workforce or staff resources already stretched
  • Gaps in capabilities
  • High operating costs
  • Disorganization or record-keeping problems

OPPORTUNITIES – These are external factors that keep your business running or could potentially help it grow. This is the exciting part of your SWOT analysis because it shows you areas where you can profit more.

  • Market trends that are in your favor
  • New emerging technologies
  • Vulnerabilities of competitors which give you a chance to shine
  • Your products or services may improve local economy, community, or environment
  • Potential partnerships that could prove lucrative
  • Potential to boost your company's image
  • Seasonal influences

THREATS – Threats  are external factors just like opportunities, but they pose a risk or could potentially hurt the future of your business. Although negative, threats should excite you as well because they indicate a clear direction to go. They show you how you can immediately improve your circumstances and gain an advantage.

  • Activities of your competitors such as increased sales or exposure
  • Changes in customer tastes or behavior
  • Bad press for your industry
  • Similar products that are popular
  • New technologies that could negatively impact your sales
  • Competitors moving in on your space or your market

It’s difficult to see these threats as anything but bad, but try to think of them as challenges. If you consider them this way, each threat can guide you in a new and more lucrative direction.

For both opportunities and threats, you're looking for the potential. These are not necessarily things that are happening now nor things predicted to happen right away, but they are possibilities for the future.

ACTIVITY >>> Use the Tackling Your Marketing Plan: Marketing Goals Worksheet you downloaded earlier to complete a SWOT analysis for your business and market.

NOW THAT YOU HAVE ESTABLISHED A BASELINE, LET’S SET SOME GOALS!

Your marketing plan should include clear marketing goals. These are not the same as your business goals. Business goals are specific milestones you hope to achieve with your business. They discuss your business as a whole and cover things like overall revenue targets, number of customers, and where that revenue will come from.

Your marketing goals are a subset of your business goals. They outline specific outcomes you need to achieve on the marketing side of your business in order to reach your overall business goals. Marketing goals follow the SMART criteria that you use when setting business goals; meaning they should follow these standards:

S - SPECIFIC

Every goal needs to be clear and simply stated. If goals are vague, there is no way to know whether you've achieved them or not. A good way to make goals specific is to make sure they answer the six 'Ws':

  • What do I want to accomplish?
  • Why do I want to accomplish it?
  • Who is involved in its attainment?
  • Where will this happen?
  • When will this happen?
  • Which requirements will be involved in the process?

Of course, you don't need to cram an answer to each of these six questions into the simple statement of your objective, but include all that apply. The objective should be stated in one sentence that anyone with any familiarity with your industry can understand.

M – MEASURABLE

You need a way to measure each goal so that you'll know when it has been reached. Like the specific criteria above, you can refine this by asking 'how' questions such as ‘How much?’ ‘How many?’ and ‘How will I know when it is accomplished?’ Include targets and milestones that you can clearly reach and focus on objective indicators like quantity, time, flexibility, efficiency, etc.

A – ACHIEVABLE

Goals need to be in line with your capabilities. It may be a challenge to reach your goal and it may stretch your resources, but it needs to be attainable. If it's impossible, you're setting yourself up for failure.

It's not always easy to tell whether or not a goal is achievable at first. Try to consider what work will go into achieving this goal and what resources you'll need. Consider also the timeframe in which you want to get it done. It's often easier to see whether a goal is achievable or not once you start working toward it.

R – RELEVANCE

This is the step that is most often overlooked: your marketing goals need to be relevant to your overall business goals. How will attaining this marketing goal help you move your business forward toward your overall goals? Measure each marketing goal against your business goal by asking yourself how it's relevant.

T – TIME-BOUND

Time-bound simply means that your goals need to be set in a specified time-frame. They can't be open-ended. Your goal may have a time-frame of days, weeks, months, or even years, but it needs to have some kind of time limit. Include a time limit for the goal’s attainment as well as specific times for each of the steps needed to reach the eventual goal.

REVIEW YOUR BUSINESS GOALS

Start with the big picture and work your way down. Review your business goals. Make sure that these goals are clearly stated. Once defined, state your marketing goals, which, once again, are closely tied in with your business goals. Since this is a marketing plan, your marketing goals are the central focus {<<<although your marketing plan should summarize business goals as well}.

For now, set marketing goals for one year from now. Where do you want your marketing to get you in a year? Separate these goals into different categories that make sense for your business (e.g. revenue growth, product development, market share, brand positioning, etc.).

When coming up with marketing goals, think in terms of the actions you want your target market to take. When your customers take these actions, it pushes you closer to your business goals. Start to think about how to turn your marketing goals into strategies by asking yourself, 'What can my business do to lead customers to take these actions {the marketing goals}?'

THE PURPOSE OF MARKETING GOALS

Broadly speaking, there are three types of marketing goals. One is to gain new customers. The objective is to get a person to make their first purchase from you. In order to do this, you need people to tell others about you. You need to get the message to them about your offering and its benefits. If you can spread awareness of the unique value you offer, this will result in more first-time purchases. Your tactics should include everything from gaining more exposure to moving customers toward a purchase.

Other goals revolve around keeping current customers. Your objective may be to maintain the same purchase amount and frequency. If this objective is met, you'll gain revenue as you develop deeper relationships with your existing customers. To meet this objective, you might encourage increased use of your products or develop new product lines that current customers can use.

Finally, goals can be aimed at getting customers to buy more from you. The tactics would be similar to the last type (keeping customers buying) but the objective would be to increase purchase amount and frequency.

Just remember that your marketing goals should be simple, focused, clear, and should follow the SMART criteria. They should be specific actions you want your customer to take.

ACTIVITY >>> Use the Tackling Your Marketing Plan: Marketing Goals Worksheet you downloaded earlier to identify your top three marketing goals, remember to ensure they are SMART using the criteria above.

TRACK YOUR MARKETING RESULTS

In one of his many books, H. James Harrington, the famous performance improvement guru, said:

“Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement. If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.”

No matter how amazing and ambitious your goals sound, if you can’t track them, then you’re just shooting in the dark and won’t know where to shift your efforts with change.

Tracking and measuring results is one of the most challenging parts of marketing for many people. It’s not as simple as looking at total sales or profit since those can be the result of many different activities, some of which could have nothing to do with your marketing at all.

Your ultimate measure is your return on investment (ROI). If you’ve followed the SMART criteria above, you’ll already have an idea of what you have to measure for each of your marketing goals. The question now should be the specific metrics to track and how to measure them.  Here are a few of the common metrics you’ll need to understand in order to measure your marketing results, depending on what goals you’ve set:

Website metrics:

  • Unique visitors – new visitors to your site vs. returning ones
  • Page views – number of pages visitors looked at
  • Bounce rate – how long visitors spent on your site before leaving
  • Traffic sources – where your visitors are coming from {e.g., search engines, social sites, email, other pages, etc.}
  • Inbound links – other sites that are linking to your content
  • Keywords – words people used to find your site in search engines
  • Conversion rate – number of people who perform a desired action after landing on a web page

Customer metrics:

  • Lifecycle – length of time it takes to convert a prospect to a customer
  • Conversion rate – percent of people who perform a specified action {e.g., sign up for your email list, click on a link, buy a product, etc.}
  • Average lifetime customer value – value your average customer is worth in terms of revenue over their lifetime with you
  • Customer satisfaction – ratings customers give for how satisfied they are with your service

Email metrics:

  • Opens – number of people who opened your emails
  • Clicks – number of people who clicked on a link in your emails
  • Conversions – number of people who purchased something after clicking on a link
  • Unsubscribes – number of people who unsubscribed from your list
  • Subscribers – number of current and new subscribers you have

Social metrics (vary depending on site):

  • Likes
  • Shares
  • Engagement
  • Retweets
  • Repins
  • Followers

 Advertising Metrics:

  • Cost per click (CPC) – cost to you each time someone clicks on your ad
  • Cost per impression (CPM) – cost per 1,000 times people viewed your ad
  • Cost per action (CPA) – what the actual cost was to achieve a desired action, such as a sign-up, website visit, like or share

There are a number of different tools you can use to measure these statistics. There are also companies who specialize in helping you measure your marketing effectiveness.

That said, one of the most popular tracking tools, free and available to everyone, is: Google Analytics. You can track all sorts of information related to your website using the free analytics tool from Google. When you sign up for an account and tie it to a specific website, you’ll receive a piece of code that you’ll then insert into your website or anywhere else that allows you to track with analytics {e.g. email campaigns}.

Once you’ve added your tracking code, you’ll start receiving data within a few days. You can get data on everything from your audience to your mobile eCommerce site to social sharing. You can even set goals for your site and track events.

The challenge with Google Analytics is the overwhelming amount of information you receive. To make it easier to track results, try creating your own custom reports by specifying exactly which key metrics you want to track. You can also create your own custom dashboards for different measures you want to monitor.

Check out the pre-designed dashboards that Google offers to see if there are ones already set up that will work for you:

  • Just click on ‘Dashboards’ at the top of the left-hand menu and then “+New Dashboard”
  • Click on “Import from Gallery" and browse through
  • A good one to start with is the one from the Analytics Team call New Google Analytics User Starter Bundle
  • Import and begin using!

The number of metrics you can follow sounds overwhelming, but the key is to focus on just a few and base that choice on your goals. For now, just focus on a few measures for your overall marketing goals. We’ll talk about campaign-level goals in our next post on marketing mix.

ACTIVITY >>> Use the Tackling Your Marketing Plan: Marketing Goals Worksheet you downloaded earlier to determine how you will measure the results of the three goals you previously identified, including the tools you will use and how often you will track.

MARKETING GOALS CONCLUSION

Increasing revenue and profit shouldn't be your only business goal. Use the framework discussed in this post to take an objective look at your business  and ask yourself what other goals you have. This will help you as set the goals that will become part of your marketing plan.

Just as you need objective data in order to formulate your marketing goals, you also need follow-up data to keep them current. You can obtain this data through monitoring. Monitoring your marketing shows you exactly what's working and what's not so that you can make changes to your strategy. Where you encounter success, replicate your efforts and refine so that they're even more fruitful. When you find results that don't provide the return you expected, stop doing those activities!

By the end of this mini course (aka four-part blog series), you’ll have everything you need to complete your marketing plan and start putting it into action.

Posts in this series:

  1. Tackling Your Marketing Plan: Marketing Analysis
  2. Tackling Your Marketing Plan: Marketing Goals {this post!}
  3. Tackling Your Marketing Plan: Marketing Mix
  4. Tackling Your Marketing Plan: Marketing Budget
andrea hubbert

About the Author

Andrea Hubbert, principal at Hub+company, is a versatile integrated marketing communications professional with one primary passion: to empower creative individuals and their companies to design and market the business lives of their dreams.

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