Does this sound familiar?
You’ve been toiling away at online marketing activities you know you “should” be doing. You put up a website. You have a Facebook page or a shiny new Twitter account. Maybe you even started publishing content on a blog.
But you wonder, is all this extra work worth it?
“It must be,” you reason. After all, look at the facts: 79 percent of all U.S. households have a computer and 95 percent of them are used to access the internet. Then there’s mobile. 88 percent of all Americans have a mobile phone and 75 percent of them use it to surf the Web.
Clearly online marketing is where the action is, so you have to be doing it to grow your business, right?
So how come it feels like you are spinning your wheels? You’re sinking time and money into pushing content into cyberspace, but not much – if anything – is happening.
Why, why, why?
If you have to ask, then congratulations: you’ve identified the likely culprit … the missing link in much of the marketing produced today.
It is the absence of clearly defined objectives.
Knowing your objectives gives you the rational reason why you are doing what you’re doing. Without them you might as well quit right now. Because you’re wasting your time and money.
But I have a better idea.
Let’s look at how you can make your business objectives more useful and potent in your marketing.
But first let’s get clear on an important distinction. Objectives are not the same as goals. Objectives are more specific, measurable and short-to-midterm in timing. Goals are often more general and long range. For example:
A goal might be “to be the leading manufacturer of widgets in the U.S.”
An objective would be “to sell 100,000 widgets domestically in the next 60 days.”
The winning formula for smarter marketing
Because they are more concrete, objectives are better drivers of your marketing strategy than goals. There are four types of objectives that must be defined for business strategy. When they are aligned as illustrated in the diagram, they give your marketing and communications strategy the needed focus to measure your progress. And to define success.
- At the top of the planning process are your financial objectives. They are high-level corporate growth targets such as revenue and profitability metrics. All other objectives flow from your financial objectives.
- At the next level are your strategic objectives. These are the big picture initiatives that will deliver the financial objectives. They might focus on operational productivity, new product development, entry into new markets, etc.
- The marketing objectives focus on what customer behaviors you need to influence to achieve your strategic objectives. They center on things like acquiring new customers, retaining existing customers, cross-selling and upselling customers—specific actions they must take for your strategy to work.
- Your communication objectives are the last step in the planning model. Here is where you identify which communication channels and messages will deliver the marketing objectives. This is where many people start the planning process. Big mistake.
The Yogi Berra rule of marketing strategy
Skipping the other objectives and going straight to communication tactics is the fast track to drifting off strategy. It breaks the alignment with the objectives that will ultimately grow your business. I call this the Yogi Berra rule of marketing strategy. It’s based on one of his famous quotes: “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else.”
When you find yourself wondering if your marketing is on the right track, ask yourself this question: What is my objective? It’s the best way to get where you need to go.