How do marketing goals relate to business goals? What is a realistic marketing goal for a business in X industry with Y goals? How often should I update my marketing goals? These are just a few of the questions we are often asked by organizations looking to set benchmarks for their PR and marketing programs.
While the answers to these questions are as unique as the businesses themselves, there are some important questions that organizations need to ask themselves when working independently – or with a marketing agency – to set benchmarks and goals. Among the top questions to ask when setting marketing goals, are:
What resources will be allocated to the marketing program?
Marketing goals should directly correlate to the resources being set for the program. For example, if media relations is part of your marketing strategy and you plan to send one news release to media each quarter, striving to become the media’s go-to source for expert commentary by year’s end is unlikely a realistic goal. On the other hand, a strategy that includes regular press releases, targeted pitching, op-ed submissions and editorial board meetings, is better-aligned to achieve the aforementioned objective.
What is the competition doing?
If your business allocates four figures worth of marketing money to a Google AdWords campaign and your biggest competitor is allocating three times your spend to Google AdWords, the competition to generate ROI will be stiff. Savvy businesses have their radars up for what the competition is – and is not – doing to market themselves, cultivate leads and generate sales. Knowing where your competition is running their ads, allocating their sponsorship budget and directing their media relations efforts can help to inform both one’s strategy and determine how conservative or aggressive the goals set for similar marketing channels should be.
What role will marketing play in achieving overall business goals?
Sales and marketing should not operate in silos. Just as the sales team relies on marketing for content and collateral to support their outreach efforts, the marketing team needs to know what role(s) it will play in achieving organizational objectives.
In order to effectively measure success, businesses need to evaluate all of the tools being used to achieve their objectives and take the steps necessary to be able to measure outcomes by channel. For example, if the sales team is making cold calls, the marketing team is deploying a direct mail campaign and the social media marketing program is being ramped up – all in support of a common goal – one needs to know which tools and tactics are generating which outcomes. Remember, it’s important to evaluate which tools will be deployed to achieve the goal at the onset.
How has marketing performed historically?
Did your blog generate more qualified leads than your tradeshow presence during the past quarter? Was the great direct mail campaign of 2013 key to meeting your year-end sales goals? Answering these questions will help to set realistic marketing goals for the month, quarter or year ahead. Coupled with this data should be a strategic analysis of the business climate, giving careful considerations to the opportunities and threats your business will face in working to achieve its marketing goals. (Hint, hint: while you are setting your marketing goals, it may be time to update the SWOT Analysis for your business.)
While the above list of questions is by no means exhaustive, it demonstrates the strong connection between sales and marketing. Further, it speaks to the need to align one’s business and marketing plans to achieve optimal ROI.