how-to-best-define-marketing-goals

To create comprehensive marketing goals for your company, it’s essential to start with a solid, achievable business plan that includes having a clear understanding of your competition. This is the only way to develop a marketing plan that addresses gaps and delivers the results you want. Here is how to define marketing goals for your company to ensure measurable growth now and moving forward:

Why Marketing Goals are Important

Having well-defined marketing goals provides you with a strategic roadmap or playbook for achieving your business goals. This is useful for several reasons:

  • It gives you direction, so you can plan ahead of time to achieve specific objectives.
  • You’re able to deal with the ebbs and flows of your market, which enables you to anticipate and plan for a change in advance instead of reacting to it after the fact.
  • According to SCORE, a nonprofit association dedicated to educating entrepreneurs and helping small businesses, goals keep you focused on the main prize while enabling you to target and achieve peripheral business goals along the way without distraction.
  • You’re able to both work towards long-term business goals and achieve short-term goals simultaneously.

For example, if your long-term goal is to realize 50% growth in your market share over the next five years, you can plan short-term marketing strategies to target a new segment each year for the duration. The business objective gives birth to the marketing goal, which in turn provides the impetus for individual marketing plans for each segment.

Best Practices for Defining your Marketing Goals

Using these methods to define your goals will help you to create a detailed, thorough inbound marketing strategy:

Knowing Who To Target

Identifying your target audience is only the first step in defining your marketing goals. Tips from the SME ToolKit in American Express’s OPEN Small Business Network suggest that you need to understand clearly why they are your preferred client base and break the audience down into market segments. Very few products or services are marketed successfully using a “one size fits all” approach, and even if your target audience is “everyone” it’s unlikely you’ll be able to reach them all with the same tactics. When you know who your various groups of prospective customers are, build strong buyer personas to represent each segment. This will enable you to select the right marketing channels to reach each group using appropriate forms of communication, and increase your rate of positive responses.

Addressing Their Pain Points

There’s a reason why customers need your product, and it isn’t simply because you’re the one selling it. Firstly, they need it because they have a problem you can help resolve. Secondly, they buy from you instead of your competitors because you convince them that your company offers the best price, the best quality or the best service. When you’re defining your marketing goals, determine what those pain points are and how you can address them. This will establish the basis for your marketing strategy, and give you the criteria you need against which to measure performance.

Creating SMART Goals

When you’re targeting specific market segments, you need to be clear on how you’re going to reach them. SMART goals are:

  • Specific, in that they state what you want to achieve.
  • Measureable: Dave Chaffey, best-selling author and editor of the Smart Insights 7 Steps to Success guides, believes you need milestones that enable you to track your progress, and clear-cut results that tell you when you’ve succeeded.
  • Achievable in terms of your capabilities and resources.
  • Relevant to your over-arching business strategy, your short and long-term plans; and
  • Time-based, giving you a definite period in which to achieve or revise them.

By following a template of this sort in defining your marketing goals you can provide for achieving the critical aspects of your business strategy.

Make Them Actionable

Being the proud owner of a complex set of marketing goals doesn’t mean you’re going to succeed in applying them. Unless your development process includes planning out what you need to do to achieve them, it could be a pointless exercise. Use research to identify the forms of marketing most likely to work for your target audience, the best channels to use to reach them, and the methods you’ll employ to measure your performance.

For example, a 2014 report from Ipsos MediaCT and Crowdtap shows that Millenials typically spend an average of 17.8 hours a day online. So, if you’re planning to use inbound marketing to reach a target audience of Millenials, then digital channels are most likely to be successful. You’ll need to make provision in your goals for the development of a dynamic, interactive website, a content marketing program and social media profiles.

Identify the resources required to oversee the process, and whether you have the capabilities in-house. If not, you’ll need to consider recruiting or outsourcing, both of which will impact both the budget and your projected ROI.