Many established SMEs who are just starting their marketing journey experience the temptation of skipping a goal setting exercise. You are excited to get started. ASAP. I completely understand but this is a must-avoid mistake. It is detrimental in marketing to skip goal setting exercise. When we don't have objectives to measure our marketing activities against, how are we going to know whether our marketing investment is making an impact on our business? This is why setting clear OKRs (objectives and key results) and measuring them are critical before you start investing chunk of your budget in marketing.
5 Tips to Establish Marketing Objectives
Tip 1. Set short-term (goals for the current fiscal year) and long-term objectives.
Marketing is a long game. Expecting immediate results for every marketing activity isn't realistic. One example is branding. Working on your branding means establishing a desired perception with your target audience. It simply takes time to accomplish this and it is (and should be) an on-going effort.
At the same time, if you are not successful in producing any short-term results with your marketing, it is hard to justify continuous investment. A balanced approach is the key; hence, it is recommended to establish both short-term and long-term objectives.
Short-term marketing objectives are the goals you want and need to accomplish in the current fiscal year. Long-term marketing objectives are 3 to 5-year goals. Coming up with realistic 3 to 5-year goals may be challenging given that the speed of changes continues to accelerate. We may need to adjust the objectives as we go but the very thought process behind setting long-term goals help you avoid short-sighted decisions.
Tip 2. No more than 3 short-term objectives.
Having too many objectives for a given fiscal year can lead to losing focus. The recommendation would be to have no more than three objectives. If you’re just starting your marketing journey, having two objectives - one for business growth and the other for branding building - would be a good place to start. See the tip #3 and #4 below for details.
Tip 3. Your marketing objective related to "business growth".
The common item on CEO’s wish list when it comes to their marketing investment is marketing’s direct contribution to its bottom line, most ideally within the same fiscal year. Here are some specific examples: 1) increasing the number of leads generated by marketing activities; and 2) reducing the cost per lead.
If your business is new to marketing, it can be the net new leads that didn't exist before. If you have done some marketing already, it can be the increase in the number of leads that your marketing activities generate.
If you don’t have previous year’s data yet as you just started your marketing journey, then the goal for this year can be collecting and analyzing the data so that you have data you can use as a baseline the following year.
Tip 4. Your marketing objective related to brand building.
Brand building helps with not only your lead generation effort in the given fiscal year but also reducing cost per lead for the years to come. The work you do right now to build a strong brand will continue to reduce your cost per lead. The cost per lead in the first year you start investing in marketing may be higher than you’d like. As you continue to invest in brand building, your cost per lead will continue to go down. If you invest solely on lead generation via paid ads, for example, without investing in building your brand, you are losing an opportunity to reduce your cost per lead.
Tip 5. Your marketing BHAG.
In addition to the ambitious yet realistic objectives, having a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) helps you and your team get excited and motivated to stretch. It is inspiring and motivating to have a BHAG, in both work and personal life, as it encourages you to imagine making the impossible possible. BHAG is a concept developed by Jim Collins in his book, Built to Last, if you are interested in learning about it more.
The template below should be helpful in establishing your marketing objectives. Ready to start? Download the template below and start filling it out!
Establish marketing objectives before creating marketing strategy
Marketing strategy represents 4 pillars of the 6PM (6-Pillar Marketing) Framework, from the 2nd to 5th pillars.
Establishing desired perception
Attracting your target audience
Engaging your attracted audience
Delighting your engaged audience
Growing with your delighted audience
Analyzing your data and optimizing
The 5 tips above are to help you establish marketing objectives which should be done before creating your marketing strategy. For the definition of each pillar (attract, engage delight, and grow) and example marketing activities for each pillar, have a look at this blog: Marketing strategy for SMEs.
What is the 6PM (6-Pillar Marketing) Framework?
It is a blueprint for your business's marketing. Before SMEs and start-ups start investing in marketing, you want to think about how to establish desired perception (branding), how to attract, engage, delight, and grow with your target audience (marketing strategy), and how to collect and analyze your marketing data. The 6PM Framework visually presents all these 6 aspects of your marketing to help you and your team aligned and prioritize your limited resources.