What’s it: A marketing objective is something a company wants to achieve through its marketing activities. Therefore, they are a special target for the marketing department. They must be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. In addition, they must also be consistent and support business objectives. In other words, they are the targets set for the marketing department to help meet the overall business objectives.
Objectives offer clear direction and provide an important focus for the marketing team. For example, the company aims to increase its market share from 5% to 10% in five years. The marketing department then maps out the resources needed to achieve these targets. In addition, they then develop strategies or tactics to achieve them.
Why are marketing objectives important?
Several reasons explain why marketing objectives are important. First, we develop them to support overall business goals. Then, at a higher level, we develop business objectives. We then break down those objectives into business functions, from the marketing department to the human resources department. Thus, the objectives in each business function embody the objectives above them. In addition, they also support each other.
Second, setting marketing objectives gives us clear direction on what the marketing department should achieve. We choose targets to achieve in one, two, three, or five years. Once realized, we then set another objective. Thus, we have sustainable objectives, enabling our marketing to succeed and beat the competition.
Third, marketing objectives provide a focus for decision-making and marketing efforts. It provides guidance on what needs to be done to achieve those objectives. In addition, they are also important for us to allocate and prioritize marketing resources and efforts. That way, we are more likely to succeed in marketing than when we don’t have an objective.
Fourth, the target becomes the input for evaluation and improvement in the marketing department. For example, by comparing objectives and realizations, we can tell whether the marketing department or specifically the marketing team, was successful or not. Success is our consideration for giving awards. And failure requires us to take evaluation steps to improve future performance.
How do we set effective marketing objectives?
Setting marketing objectives doesn’t just break down a business objective into multiple marketing objectives. We need to validate our plans and ensure they are practical, valuable, reasonable, and, most importantly, consistent with the company’s vision and mission.
In addition to being consistent with objectives at the top level, marketing objectives must also be SMART:
We must be able to define or identify the objective clearly. It makes it easier for the whole team to understand the targets they need to achieve. It also gives them a reason why the objectives are important. For example, we want to increase sales and reduce customer complaints.
We have key performance indicators and benchmarks to assess our progress against our objectives. We should be able to quantify them as much as possible. So, we can measure whether we have succeeded in achieving them or not. For example, we want sales to increase by 5% and customer complaints to decrease by 5% from current conditions.
Our objectives must be realistic to achieve, considering our resources and competencies. While we want to set high standards, we must consider our resources and capabilities. So, they must be within the best capabilities of our team.
In the example above, increasing sales and reducing customer complaints are still within our reach. We can achieve both. For example, targeting customer complaints to be reduced by 5% from the current state is possible.
What is almost impossible is targeting customer complaints completely zero. Many aspects affect customer complaints. Some may not be caused by problems in the marketing department. For example, a product is damaged or does not meet specifications resulting in customers complaining. The problem is not from the marketing department but from the operations department.
In addition to being achievable, the example also shows why marketing objectives should be aligned with operational objectives. For example, the operations department targets zero defects. Without such targets, customer complaints will continue to arise.
Marketing objectives must align with business objectives and synergize with other departmental objectives. In addition, they must also be realistic with the current economic and business conditions or, more broadly, the environment in which the company operates and competes. The environment includes not only factors such as political, economic, socio-demographic, technological, and legal. However, they also cover the competitive environment and related stakeholders.
In addition, the objectives must also be relevant to the competitive strategy we adopt. For example, we adopt a differentiation strategy by charging a premium price. Therefore, it is irrelevant for us to choose to double sales by lowering the selling price to boost sales volume.
Because the business environment is dynamic, relevant objectives may also require us to modify them from time to time. Under normal conditions, for example, we target sales to increase by 10%. But, since the economy is in recession, we might revise that.
We must determine when to achieve the targets, whether one year, two years, etc. Being time bound, they urge us to act as soon as possible to realize them.
Say, we will achieve a 12% increase in sales during one year. Our next task is to divide it into shorter periods. Say, we want to increase sales by at least 1% every month. Dividing periods is useful for setting priorities, dividing resources and tasks, and determining what we should do each month.
What are common examples of marketing objectives?
Before setting objectives, we may need a marketing audit. Together with the company’s objectives, the audit will help us identify areas we need to improve and develop. For example, we plan which products we should sell, in which markets, and how to sell them effectively. Then, we design the marketing objectives according to the audit results.
By identifying marketing objectives, we can then develop a marketing strategy. Marketing objectives are usually long-term and focus on areas such as:
Market share. We are targeting sales to increase higher than the industry average. For example, we are targeting sales to increase by 1% above the industry average for 5 years. Although 1% looks small, if we consistently achieve it, our market share will continue to increase from time to time. And within five years, our market share will increase by 5% (1% x 5 years).
Brand loyalty. For example, we are targeting increased sales due to increased repeat sales rather than acquiring new customers. In addition, we encourage existing customers to purchase other products in our offering.
Market development. We are expanding our marketing, for example, moving to a new segment in an existing market. Or, we enter a new market, for example, a foreign market.
Diversification. We develop new products and sell them to new markets. New products may complement existing products. And loyal customers will make it easier for us to attract customers and sell more new products.
What should we do next?
After setting targets and breaking them down into specific targets for a shorter time, we need to define the tasks and resources needed to achieve them. We also need to communicate with the team.
In addition, intensive communication with other departments is also something we need to do. For example, to reduce customer complaints, we should talk to the operations department about how to do this, whether by improving quality control or other means.
Once we have established our objectives, how to achieve them, manage our resources, and have the key performance indicators to measure marketing success, the next task is to monitor them. We can simply do this, like in an Excel worksheet. Or, we can use real-time dashboards or other more advanced software.
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