There is more to marketing objectives than simply increasing sales. And the key to achieving your objectives is to have a plan. Or three!
[This article was updated and revised from the original March 2015 post]
Achieving your marketing objectives hinges on having a solid strategy and a consistent commitment to follow through with your strategy.
The problem that arises for many marketers, however, is that they tend to start the process backwards. In other words, their tendency is to simply start with their proposed budget and use that to dictate what they can or can't do with marketing.
But this is not only unnecessarily limiting, it is short-sighted and focuses on the wrong parameters.
While it is true that your budget will, in fact, be a real determining factor in what tactics you can afford to employ and what resources you can actually make use of, it should not be the overriding factor. Flexibility, creativity, and agility may be required to "do more with less" when it comes to an affordable and effective marketing strategy. But without clear cut goals, or objectives, and a clearly defined plan of action and accountabilities, any money you do have will be poorly spent.
Remember, your marketing efforts are not like a pasta kitchen: you cannot afford to simply "throw spaghetti on the wall to see what sticks." You must plan, allocate, monitor and measure everything. And that requires planning beyond simply setting a budget.
Don't Simply Plan to Spend - Plan To Achieve Objectives
Too many marketers or business-owners-as-marketers allow their perceived budget to dictate what they think they can and can't do when it comes to marketing strategies. Vendors and marketing firms catering to businesses contribute to this mindset by prefacing their sales pitch with questions about budget.
This is not to say that a budget is not important or that it doesn't impact your marketing efforts. It is and it does. But using that alone as your starting point when developing a marketing strategy is, well... less than strategic.
A more strategic approach to is to start with your actual objectives. This is analogous to planning a journey.
For example, let's assume you're planning a trip for your company's staff and you want to go from San Francisco to, say, someplace on the East Coast you wouldn't simply look at your bank account and say, "Looks like we can only get as far as Toledo, guys."
No, you would first decide where exactly you want to go and then you would determine how you can best get there efficiently and cost-effectively. Establishing a clear objective would dictate WHAT you want to accomplish. Your budget is just one factor that affects HOW you will accomplish it.
With you objective clearly established (and documented so everyone know exactly where you're going) then you would create a plan that incorporates your budget to make it happen. But, without a clear objective, it could be a waste of resources and money to simply head off with no destination in mind.
This is true for your marketing strategy, as well.
Your strategy is comprised of three essential elements: your marketing objective(s), your proposed course of action, and your budget. They must work together to create a unified strategy, but they each require their own planning. By taking this strategy approach you will vastly increase the likelihood of hitting your goals while having complete control over your budget and tactics.
Three Plan Approach To Achieving Marketing Objectives
The three key steps in achieving your marketing objectives involves the creation and documentation of these three distinct, yet interlocking plans:
1. Objective Plan. It is critical to define and establish both measurable financial and marketing objectives. Financial objectives include sales revenue and net profits. Your specific marketing objectives may change over time, some of the perennial goals include your number of leads generated, website visits, or the number of blog posts or Twitter messages published in your social media campaign.
2. Action Plan. Without a clear and explicit plan for actions to be taken for each objective, it is highly unlikely these goals will be reached. You plan should have completion dates, responsibilities assigned for each action, and even contingency actions in response to feedback from your ongoing metrics tracking.
Included in this action plan step should be a production calendar with periodic progress meetings and updates, etc. One approach that is often employed with this step is what is known as S.M.A.R.T. goals. The acronym originally stands for goals that are: Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic, and Time-related.
3. Budget Plan. Your budget planning needs to include a profit and loss projection along with the marketing budget. The budget should be designed to support your marketing efforts and used to take the necessary steps to make it possible. In other words, Knowing what your projected earnings will be by successfully achieving your proposed marketing goals will allow you to assign the dollars needed to fund the plan.
Bringing it All Together as a Marketing Plan
Ultimately, this can be seen as a three-stage, or three part, marketing plan. Regardless of what actual marketing tools or tactics you employ, it makes sense to start with clear objectives first. Having an action plan in place for achieving these objectives is necessary in order to see your overall plan to completion. And, once these plans are established, you can create the budget plan.
Achieving these objectives with your marketing strategy takes time. If you are engaged in content, or inbound, marketing it won't happen with a few blog posts or great ebook. People will need to consume your content for a while before they contact you. But without your content compelling them to contact you, your goals may never be met.
Content and inbound marketing work day in and day out. Once you post a blog article or upload a Slideshare piece, it is always there, working to educate and compel people to become leads. And when they do come to you, they are educated, informed, and much more likely to make the decision to buy.
Get your Free Complimentary Inbound Marketing Session to help you make an informed decision or call BroadVision Marketing at 707-799-1238.
Jaco Grobbelaar is the owner and CMO of BroadVision Marketing. BroadVision Marketing works with business owners to put in place inbound and outbound marketing strategies that consistently secure new clients.
The BroadVision Marketing Training Center primarily serves companies in the San Francisco Bay area.
Jaco can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 707.766.9778
Connect with Jaco on Facebook at www.facebook.com/broadvisionmarketing
and LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/JacoGrobbelaar.