If you’re not clear about your marketing objectives, it’s highly unlikely the marketing content and promotional material you create will be knock-your-socks-off effective.
That’s why big business marketers always spend time determining what they’re trying to achieve before they do anything else.
Here’s a quick four-step framework that you can use to help you get laser-focused too.
Step 1: Start by revisiting your business goals
The purpose of marketing your business is to help you achieve your business goals. Hopefully, yours are already top of mind, but if they’re not, or if (gasp!) you don’t have a plan for your business, take a little time to refresh your thinking and ideas around where you want your business to go.
For soloists, overall business objectives typically involve revenue, sales and profitability targets, and sometimes lifestyle goals too. (Four-hour workweek, anyone?)
Step 2: Work out who you want to market to
Marketing is all about motivating people to do something, so while your business goals are results that you want to achieve, your marketing objectives fundamentally need to factor other people (your customers!) into the equation.
Hopefully, you’ve already identified who your target market is. You might even have spent some time developing buyer personas to help bring your understanding of what makes them tick come to life.
Take this concept a step further by recognising that within your target market, all current and potential customers of your business fall into one of four camps:
- They never buy your type of product or service, from you or anyone else;
- They already buy what you sell, but they’ve never bought it from you;
- They already buy what you sell, sometimes from you and sometimes from others; or
- They already buy what you sell from you, and never from anyone else
Sit with that list for a little while, and you’ll probably get a sense of which of those groups within your target market is going to provide the easiest win for you or your business. (Factors to consider include the type of product or service you sell, the hassle-factor for a customer who switches providers, and how long the typical contract or business commitment is in your industry).
In my experience, most small business owners are able to knock one or more of these buyer mindsets out of contention almost immediately.
For example, it might be instantly obvious to you that it’s not worthwhile trying to convince a non-believer that what you sell is something they want to buy and that your efforts are better focused elsewhere.
On the other hand, almost all small business owners I’ve worked with can quickly see a case for investing some of their marketing energy in motivating existing customers to become even more loyal.
Step 3: What do you want them to do?
Now that you know who you’re going to target with your objective you also need to know what you want them to do.
Again the answer will vary according to the nature of your business and the industry you operate in, but as a general rule of thumb, your goal here is to motivate a customer or potential customer to step further along the path that ultimately leads them in making a purchase.
Step 4: Give yourself a target, a timeline and a reality check
Now it’s time to frame your marketing objective in a SMART way.
You’ve already gotten specific about who you’re marketing to and what you want them to do in response, so next think about how you’re going to measure your results, whether the objective you’re setting yourself is both achievable and realistic, and the point in time by which you want to have succeeded. (TIP: to keep things achievable and realistic, start with one, two or maybe three marketing objectives, not a whole bunch!)
Frame each objective like this and you’ll be on the right track: Get [X number or percentage] of [people in my target market] who currently [do/don’t buy at all/from others/from me] to [do desired behaviour] by [Y date].
Here a few examples to give you the idea:
- Get 15 finance professionals who’ve never used a VA to have an initial chat with me by 30th
- Get 5% of chocolate lovers who currently buy from my online store to increase their average purchase by $20 by Valentine’s Day
- Get 10 of my existing, loyal clients to commit to long-term contracts before the end of the financial year
- Get 400 mothers who currently buy apple juice to have a taste of mine before school starts next term
Putting your marketing objectives into action
If your objective is in line with your overall business goals and is achievable and realistic for you, by now you’re probably starting to get some ideas about ways that you might be able to make it happen.
That’s exactly the point of the exercise. Once you’ve gained clarity about what you’re trying to achieve, your thinking about how to get there tends to become more streamlined and decisive too.
Assess each of your ideas for their ability to help you reach your goal, then choose the best of them and start planning how you’re going to roll them out.
Keeping my focus on my marketing objectives helps me avoid getting led down fruitless rabbit holes and sidestep shiny object syndrome. It’s also helped many of my clients make better, more profitable decisions about how they spend their marketing time and money.
Has clarifying your objectives improved your marketing results too? Please share your experiences in the comments.