What’s Your Marketing Objective?

 

Do you have your priorities straight?

Do you have your priorities straight?

After a short 4th of July break, it’s back to blogging.  This is part 3 of a series of posts to help you develop a strategic marketing plan for your small business.  You can read the first two posts on the DP Marketing SMB Blog. The last installment, I Want Money,  was designed to adjust your focus a bit and maybe kill a couple of Sacred Cows in your marketing program. Now that we understand that the real goal of marketing is efficient production of profits, we’ll get started with the “how to’s” of putting together a Strategic Marketing Plan. This week begins the first real exploration of the marketing plan that you need to keep your business profitable and on track.  This week we talk about objectives and priorities.

To get to the end of the journey we need to have a destination in mind. Seems self-evident, doesn’t it? Yet many small business owners engage in marketing efforts as a necessary business exercise.  They may hope that the effort will produce a result, but they don’t really have a clear picture of what that result should be.  Or, they define the desired result in very broad terms, like “revenue will increase” or “we’ll make more money.” Who doesn’t want to make more money?

When you’re going on a trip, the idea of enjoying the journey sometimes makes a lot of sense.  If I had no shortage of money, few responsibilities, and a good vehicle; I think I’d like to go wander around the country for a while.  This attitude doesn’t work for small business marketing. It’s absolutely necessary to have a destination in mind. Even if you enjoy the creative activity of marketing, you still want it to accomplish a purpose. I will submit that there is no small business in existence that can afford to waste money on marketing.  Better to put it in the bank and save it for the vacation you’re planning next summer.

BrainstormingBrainstorming

So let’s talk about the goals.  How do you determine and your marketing goals?   Brainstorming is a great way to start. Here are a few guidelines:

  1. Collaboration – Two brains (or more) are better than one.  If you’re surrounded by a bright team, bring them in on the activity.
  2. Ground Rules – Set the stage with guidelines for discussion.  The engagement should be affirming and all ideas are welcomed, no matter how crazy they may seem.
  3. Question based – Start with broad and relevant questions.  The initial question could be as broad as “how do we make more money,” but it’s probably better to start with at least a little bit of focus. The SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, targets) approach can work well as a start.
  4. Scope of Discussion – Focus the discussion as you go along.  Begin with the general and then narrow to the particulars. Stay on topic. Take lots of notes.
  5. Goals, not tactics – This one’s a little difficult. The idea is to identify goals for the company.  Figuring out how to accomplish the goals comes later. As an example,”improve our customer service response” is a goal.  “Implement a CRM system” is more like a tactic.

It may be fun to take an hour or so to meet with your team just for the purpose of brainstorming, but there are other ways for this activity to take place.  The old fashioned white board still works.  Put the board up in the breakroom and ask the staff to add notes as ideas come to them.  For the techno-geeks like me, there are also very cool online applications for “mind-mapping.” A very easy to use tool is MindMeister, used to create the chart above.  Maps can be shared for group access, so your team can collaborate in an office setting.

Organization

If you have an energetic group, you’ll probably wind up with lots of notes with similar themes. Group them together so the ideas make sense.  For example, “get back to customers more quickly,” “improve access to information for customers,” and “empower the customer service team” all have to do with customer service.  They are “sub-goals” of the major goal of improving customer service quality.  Make sure to keep track of the sub-goals.  These are the information bits that will help determine the selection of tactics later on.

Prioritization

Now it’s time to look at reality.  It’s unlikely that you’ll have the time or the budget to implement all of the goals that you’ve generated from your brainstorming sessions.  Prioritization is necessary and the obvious question is “which of these goals will make the largest impact on my company in the shortest amount of time?” We’re back to efficiency in this determination.  Which of the goals is likely to produce the highest profit for the investment of time and money?  That goal should be ranked highest on the list, then others are fall in order below it with the same criteria in mind.

At the bottom of the list are some goals that will not be accomplished. Here’s some sound advice – take them off of the list.  Priorities change and it makes plenty of sense to re-evaluate goals from time to time.  The bottom of the list may reappear later, but there’s no time or budget for them now.

The List

You’re done with Step 1.  What you’ve produced is a prioritized list of marketing objectives.  Now we begin the process of figuring out how to get the objectives accomplished.  In the next SMB blog post, we’ll talk about Strategy and Tactics, two closely related topics that determine the focus and the specifics of your company’s marketing activities.

What do you think?

This week we’ve discussed a process for establishing the marketing objectives for your company.  Brainstorming works, but it’s certainly not the only way to determine prioritized goals for your company.  What do you think?

  1. Do you have a list of marketing priorities?
  2. How do you create the list?
  3. Do you allow your employees or your team to participate?

The Last Part

DP Marketing Services is a new business that provides assistance with marketing planning and implementation for small businesses.  We’re available to help you with organization and with specific projects.  We hope you’ll take a look through our website and let us know if you’d like to discuss your business or a project you’re considering.  No risk – the first 2 hours are free.  If you’d like to get in touch, please call Richard Dannenberg at 478-719-4029, email to richard@dpmktg.com, or fill out a contact form here on the website.

Photo attribution: Curator of S***



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