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The Business Owner’s Guide to Setting Marketing Objectives

Last updated: March 23, 2020
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When it comes to establishing a small business strategy, there are a million things to consider. Products, services, finances, business type, and more all have to be considered. You’ll also need a marketing plan to grow your business, and setting marketing objectives is the best way to execute a marketing plan.

In this article, we’ll guide you on the process of setting objectives, providing examples and guidance for how to define and implement your marketing goals. We’ll talk about the S.M.A.R.T. system for defining clear objectives, and highlight different key performance indicators (KPIs) you can use to measure your success.

What Are Marketing Objectives?

Marketing objectives are the goals for a brand or business. It’s basically a way for a marketing team to clearly set out their desired intentions, then provide a clear plan for executing on those intentions, and measuring success through KPIs.

Setting marketing objectives is part of a larger marketing strategy or marketing plan — basically taking the big-picture ideas and breaking them down into executable goals.

For executives and business owners, marketing objectives gives them a clearer understanding of a plan that may have big, overarching ideas like “build brand awareness” or “grow sales.” Objectives help a marketing team define more clearly how to do that and gives them a timetable in which to measure success.

For marketing teams, this process lets them set goals, quantify progress, and set realistic expectations for executives about what is possible to accomplish in a set period of time. Everyone on a team will want the business to grow — marketing objectives let a team agree on how it should grow, and what’s reasonable to expect from a marketing perspective.

Examples of Marketing Objectives

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So now we know what marketing objectives are, but it still might be hard to figure out exactly what they look like. When it comes to defining marketing objectives, it’s smart to think globally and then zero in on details as you go.

Marketing objectives should be more specific than big goals like “grow the business through marketing,” but don’t worry about getting too in the weeds yet. We’ll get to KPIs and defining clear objectives shortly.

Some examples of marketing objectives:

Promote a New Product

If your company is launching a new product or service in the coming year, a fine marketing objective is to promote that new product across a variety of platforms. This can increase product awareness both in an established market and new markets, depending on the target audience.

Generate Leads

Do you operate a sales-driven business? A marketing objective may focus more on generating business development through targeted leads as opposed to a broader brand-awareness push.

Find New Customers

Customer base growing stagnant? A marketing objective may be to develop a strategy to find new customers either locally or globally, and then connect with those customers through direct outreach or targeted advertising. Smart marketers will ask: Who needs our product? And what’s the best way to find, and then connect with them?

Grow Online Presence

Bringing an established business online? It might be time to grow your online presence, either through a website, a digital marketing campaign, an email marketing campaign, or via social media. However you’re growing online, search engine optimization (SEO) will likely be part of it. People will search for your product or service online — smart SEO will make sure they find your business.

Increase Sales

This may seem vague, but increasing sales can take different forms. For example, you may choose to focus on converting leads into sales or pushing established customers to become more regular shoppers.

Build Brand Awareness

This is a more general marketing objective, but it’s a good goal to have as it allows the marketing team to not worry so much about converting into sales but rather about getting the word out about a brand.

Establish a Presence in a New Market

Popular in one part of the country and eager to go farther? Establishing a presence in another geographical area can allow your business to grow sales and revenue.

Grow Market Share

As opposed to expanding into a new market, an executive may instead direct the marketing team to grow its market share in an established place. Sometimes it’s best to own your own backyard before moving out into the world.

You might look at the list above and think, “I want to do all of these things.” That’s fine … eventually. But focusing on too many goals at once can spread a marketing team thin and make it hard to accomplish what you set out to do. Focusing on two or three at a time will allow teams to hit goals. Set reminders and a timeline to return to other goals in the future.

How to Define Clear Objectives

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There is a handy acronym to define clear marketing objectives: S.M.A.R.T.

S.M.A.R.T. stands for:

Specific

Good marketing objectives are specific to your business and clearly defined so that the entire team knows what you are trying to accomplish. An objective like “build the brand” doesn’t help anyone. Tell them how you want to do it.

Measurable

Objectives should be measurable, with KPIs agreed upon ahead of time, so marketing teams have goals they can try to hit. Want to establish your business in a new market? Outline how you plan to measure that success. Is it sales? Lead generation? Ads placed? Make the goals measurable.

Achievable

Once you’ve got specific, measurable goals in place, make sure they’re achievable. Setting unrealistic goals will drive down morale, discouraging your marketing and ultimately wasting time.

Relevant

Have your goals be relevant to what you’re trying to do with your business. How do these objectives fit with your overall aim for the business? If they don’t fit, it’s hard to sell your team on why they’re important. Goals that aren’t relevant can be a distraction for a growing company.

Time-Bound

Have a start date and an end date. This gives your team a set period of time to focus on achieving the goal. Loose timekeeping can make teams feel like projects are lasting forever. Plus, you need an end date so you know when you can measure your progress.

KPIs to Measure Success

There are lots of different ways to measure success, several of which are listed below. What’s important isn’t so much the KPI you choose but rather that everyone understands the KPIs and business purpose behind the marketing objective. If everyone is in agreement and understands how success will be measured, the team can get to work hitting benchmarks and achieving goals for the business.

Changes in Profit

Changes in profit measure how much your profit margins increase in a given amount of time. Profit margins can increase either by increasing sales or by decreasing expenses (preferably both!), so this objective can be accomplished in different ways. However it’s done, increasing margins is key to running a healthy business.

Market Share

Market share feels like an amorphous metric, but it can be measured. With your team, consider the market size and total revenue in your industry. Keep this specific to your geographic area if you operate in a local market. Then divide your business’s revenue by the total revenue of that market, and you’ve got your market share.

New Customer Acquisition

There are several KPIs that measure new customer acquisition, including number of new customers, increase in new customers (the percentage change of new customers in a given time frame), and cost per new customer (what your business spent to acquire each new customer to your business).

Lead Generation and Conversion Rates

There are many different ways to measure leads and conversion. You can establish KPIs for the total number of new leads brought in or ask your team to simply increase the number of leads from a previous quarter by a certain percentage. Additionally, you can calculate cost per lead or measure conversion rates.

Social Media Engagement

Looking to grow your brand online or measure digital customer interactions? Social media platforms provide a lot of metrics to help you understand who your business is reaching and interacting with online.

Build Your Brand With the Right Marketing Objectives

A great marketing strategy is only as good as the marketing objectives that come with it. Marketing objectives take the big picture plan and break it down into executable goals, letting a team buy into a big vision and implement what needs to happen to make that vision a reality. With S.M.A.R.T. goals and achievable KPIs, you can execute on marketing objectives, increase your cash flow, and grow your business.

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