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Marketing objectives are strategies that support corporate goals. Typically, the objective of these strategies will revolve around a few over-arching categories. Sales revenue, sales volume, sales growth, market share and customer loyalty or engagement. Indeed, the objective may invoke SEO strategies or social media reach, but the categories above generally describe the intent of such an objective.

So how and why are marketing objectives used? The why is simple, we have corporate goals to achieve on behalf of our stakeholders, both internal and external. Marketing exists to support the achievement of those goals. The “how” of marketing objective use is not as simple.

When defining marketing objectives, we must set SMART goals. In this case, a bit of a double entendre. SMART is an acronym for

  • Specific – A goal must not be vague. Specificity is essential for clarity of mission
  • Measurable – If it can’t be measured, we can’t know if we succeeded.
  • Achievable – Realistic goals and objectives just make sense. But they also help “rally the troops” to something the team/company feels that can achieve. If my weight loss goals are 45 lbs this month, it’s not achievable by any sane means. The result would be certain failure and demoralization.
  • Realistic – Similar in some way to achievable, but adding the dimensions of things such as time. If I need to lose 45 lbs, it’s not realistic to do it in one month, but perhaps over a year? From a marketing perspective, if we are launching a new product, is it realistic to have it sell out on day one? No. But can we sell out of the product over some period of time, maybe! However, one must be cautious about determining if something is realistic or not. If I want to sell out of the product on day one, what if my objective is to do a live sell on QVC? You can indeed sell out of a product in a day, but it may require extraordinary events to make it happen.
  • Time related – Tying this all in together, what is the time frame in which you choose to achieve this goal? Without it, we never know if we achieved the goal due to these efforts, or just by luck! A plan must have a timeline. That timeline provides the necessary data points to allocate resources and budgets to achieve the objective- do I need to spend the money this fiscal year? Or is this a 5 year mid-term planning objective?

Marketing objectives must be collaborated and discussed with senior leadership. Shared vision is essential, as marketing sells nothing alone(normally). There is an entire value chain which is brought to bear in selling products or services. Objectives need to be in keeping with the scale of what is being attempted – new product launches, boosting Brand Awareness or Share of Voice (SOV), gaining social media followers, etc…..As we discussed above, these goals should be SMART. However, we must further break down what strategies, tactics and KPIs or measurements you will use to validate success.

It is in determination of the strategies and tactics that we should be aware of potential legal and ethical issues. Assuming that the objectives themselves are ethical and not something patently illegal or unethical, it is more likely that the execution will be the weak link.

Improper data sources, claims used in marketing that are deceitful or even dangerous, subterfuge, and harassment of consumers must not be part of the equation. Objectives and the strategies and tactics should not compromise core values of the company. This may even extend to corporate responsibility and sustainability efforts. Breaching any of these areas of trust with the consumer and public can lead to devastating legal consequences at worst, but “cancellation” at best by the very public we are attempting to sway.

So while we collectively understand that objectives must be ethical and legal (I hope), so should we pay attention to the methods used to achieve those objectives.