A clever marketing plan can be worth its weight in gold, re-engaging existing customers, bringing in whole new audiences, and ultimately boosting your bottom line. Consider this recent Forbes headline: “Why Marketing Your Product Is More Important Than The Product Itself.”
But this doesn’t mean every marketing plan is effective. Often, businesses across industries craft marketing plans with goals that are too vague, too unrealistic, or both. These plans put resources behind a newfangled platform or trend with little strategy — usually resulting in a lot of energy spent on marketing, but few results. “A common problem for new businesses is to rush into newspaper ads, glossy brochures, billboards and radio commercials,” warn the marketing experts from How Stuff Works.
One of the keys to building a successful marketing plan is being perfectly clear about your goals. What, exactly, do you want to accomplish? Why? And how will you do it? “It’s not enough to just outline the marketing goals you want to accomplish,” writes the team at Alexa, the marketing software firm owned by Amazon. “You also need to validate your plans and make sure they are practical, useful, and reasonable.”
Developing clear goals isn’t something you can do in one day, or even one week. It requires data, analysis, reflection, and careful planning. Here are three tips to consider when crafting your marketing goals.
Align business goals and marketing goals. Your marketing doesn’t exist in a vacuum — it should directly connect to and help achieve other goals across the organization. When developing your marketing goals, carefully scrutinize existing business goals. Are you aiming to increase revenue this year by a certain amount? Are you planning to take on a certain number of new clients? Are you hoping to break into a new market?
Your marketing goals should complement these objectives. For example, perhaps you need a Facebook and Google marketing campaign built specifically to drive a 15% increase in purchases. Or, 10 new pieces of marketing collateral to entice new clients. Or, a publicity blitz that garners two positive news stories in the region you’re hoping to break into.
A further bonus: At the end of the quarter or the year, having closely aligned goals makes it easier to measure outcomes, evaluate success, and make necessary changes.
What you don’t want are marketing goals completely divorced from the business goals. Growing your Twitter following by 50% may seem worthwhile — but if it doesn’t increase revenue or entice new clients, then is it really worth the energy?
Choose your channels wisely. Many marketing goals are tethered to specific channels: Increase Facebook reach by 20%, or Twitter followers by 30%, or LinkedIn engagement by 40%.
Digital platforms are where most people spend much of their time, so it’s prudent to include them in your goals. “Roughly three-quarters of Facebook users (74%) visit the site daily,” Pew Research recently revealed, and “Majorities of Snapchat and Instagram users also say they visit these sites daily.”
But make sure your goals are tracking to the right platform. Your goals should be built around where your target audience is. To choose the right channels for your marketing goals, conduct research — from online surveys and polls to analysis of existing data — to determine where your audience is spending time online.
Use consistent messaging. At the end of the day, most of your marketing goals boil down to this: reach more people with the right message. One goal may to be grow email subscribers, and another may be high turnout at an in-person event— but at their core, both are about communicating a clear story about your brand.
For this reason, ensure you’re using consistent messaging when pursuing each goal. Develop core brand message points that you can draw from each and every time you create content. “Many factors contribute to a brand’s success, but perhaps one of the most valuable is content consistency,” Forbes advises.
And don’t worry about sounding redundant: Crystal clear and consistent messaging is critically important in a world where people are bombarded with messages and ads from multiple mediums throughout the day
When it’s time to craft marketing goals, make sure you invest time, energy, and thought early on — after all, these goals will drive your activities for the quarter, for the year, or perhaps longer. Sloppy marketing goals will squander resources. But, again, the right marketing goals and plans are worth their weight in gold.