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.
TV advertising, billboards, print publications, direct mail, telemarketing, co-marketing, OTT/CTV, social media, paid Influencers, micro-influencers, event marketing, earned media, paid media….. it’s enough to drive anyone crazy while zapping a marketing budget dry. Marketing Return on Investment (MROI) is achieved by developing a strategy that maximizes impressions and/or impact on mostly those who have a need for the product or service. After all, targeting casino play to teenagers, sail boats to desert dwellers, and denture cream to millennials just does not make much sense.
Several tools exist to assist us in segmenting the market in a meaningful way. Typical demographic data such as income, gender, and location is not enough. Bringing in the behavioral traits of your potential target – understanding what makes them tick from a motivation perspective – can vastly change how and here you spend your marketing dollars.
Similarly, geographic data beyond a zip code can tell us the types of motivations residents have in the area. Perhaps the geography is made up of Movers and Shakers with no kids, or Networked neighbors – wealthy middle aged families with kids. By leveraging an understanding of what motivates these segments, we better mold messaging and channel delivery of marketing messages. This type of data is available through a model called Claritas 360 (otherwise known as Prizm) (https://claritas360.claritas.com/mybestsegments/#zipLookup) which leverages over 5 Billion data points (About – Claritas LLC, 2021) to align a geography into discrete categories.
Additional segmentation is useful at a deep psychographic level. Mintel (https://www.mintel.com/) provides marketing intelligence insights into the motivators, likes, dislikes and fears, of consumers, based on everything from generation to trends to even religion (Mintel: Global Market Research & Market Insight, 2022). By utilizing these services, we make our targeted messaging more impactful. Driving impressions to not only the right person, but at the right time, through the right channel with the right message is the target of a well thought out marketing strategy.
By developing a Persona, or description of a theoretical person that encompasses what we learn in the segmentation, we put our target prospect in terms that may seem more apt for a dating application than quantitative analysis. However, it is just that relatability that is crucial when we develop messaging. Think of it…. writing copy for an ad and only knowing that your audience is dads over 35 is nebulous. But if we can say, Jim is a 35 year old married sales exec that loves coaching his kids little league team, loves outdoor activities and barbecuing on a Big Green Egg- you begin to form the vision of Jim and can relate your copy to his values and experience.
Mintel: Global Market Research & Market Insight. (2022). Mintel. https://www.mintel.com/
About – Claritas LLC. (2021, September 21). Claritas LLC. https://claritas.com/about/
“Brand Promise” determines how a brand is viewed in the market. (Schultz, 2016).
Nike should keep this in mind as it attempts to pronounce judgement and cancel, through its marketing and branding actions, the opinions and deeply felt emotions of many consumers. Nike has chosen to become a social activism company, catering to a bully culture that includes most of entertainment, media and government leadership. However, when it comes to their own ethics, their actions are perhaps worst of all.
While Nike maintains advertising campaigns that support washed up Athletes that kneel like cowards for the national anthem, they stomp on those who are truly oppressed. They continue to produce cheap products with foreign companies that pay sub-standard wages with sub-standard work conditions (New Idea, 2019).
When a 2016 Nike ad campaign kicked off with an image of Colin Kaepernick, with ad copy spouting “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything” (Nike’s Ad and Believing in Something, 2018), no one questioned Nike. By joining the social media bully culture, they were insulated. Yet that same year another super-star, this one in the NBA, Turkish star Enes Kanter, had a true act of sacrifice because of what he believed in. In Kanter’s words “I talked to Nike and they said ‘we want to give Enes a contract, but if we give him one [the Turkish government] will shut down every store in Turkey, so we cannot’… I’m an NBA player with no shoe deal. No endorsement deal. And I play in New York!’ (Enes Kanter is the NBA’s Man of Many Faces, 2018).
Nike’s issues do not end there, nor does the backlash. In 2020 and 2021, when protests that were initially driven by protesters asserting their first amendment rights to point out systemic injustices in various areas of our day to day lives, these events turned violent and deadly, primarily due to the insertion of ANTIFA and BLM agitators. This, of course, is a difficult view to espouse freely, lest one be cancelled. However, BLM as an organization and BLM as a movement of those seeking equality and opportunity, consistent with MLK’s “Dream” speech should be clearly separate – one is a movement that has morphed into a national organization, where the other is a meaningful reminder and motto that make us pause and think about the impact of personal and professional practices moving forward.
BLM as an organization has become rife with conflict and potential corruption. Most of the local BLM operations are struggling for funding, while a BLM co-founder has purchased her 3rd home for cash. The lack of transparency has led to many chapters to break away (Gyamfi & Konadu, 2021). Yet Nike, wanting to jump at the opportunity to represent their support for a large segment of their consumer population, committed $40M to the BLM organization and led an alliance of companies promising $140M over 10 years (Murphy, 2021).
While Nike led the charge with branding activity that focused all efforts on vocal BLM support, they neglected to take into consideration a large population of this country that were skeptical about the BLM organization (not the motto- this is not social commentary). There is a large population of this country that truly believes in equality of races and opportunities. However, many in this position have been put off by being called racist, with cancel culture wishing to censor and silence any discussion. For equality to be embraced by all, punishing the open exchange of ideas is counter-productive. Nike firmly has placed its foot in this trap, and has been hurt by those who now choose to look elsewhere, as is evidence by a YOY comparison of financial indicators, especially around the height of the riots in 2020 (NIKE Revenue 2006-2021 | NKE, 2021).
Nike doesn’t care about public opinion- and this would be where I would recommend a shift in strategy. Looking at how Enes Kanter’s family had to disown him in order to not be killed in Turkey, while Enes espoused his pride in living in the United States and becoming a citizen, Nike should look to sponsoring Kanter.
Nike should focus on issues facing the black community at the local and regional level, demanding to see actual impact of their investment. Providing financial support without a clear expectation of results, and those results being the ACTUAL good that the black community should expect to experience from that investment – the tangible demonstration, is financial negligence.
I have frequently said. perhaps rather than choosing a side in a battle over what patriotism and bravery look like, they should focus on what makes this country stronger. Show the differences in life conditions that a living wage paid in a foreign country can make and recommit to making a difference. Choose athletes who have demonstrated true bravery on the field, on the battlefield, and in their personal lives. Spotlight the heroes that fight for equality and diversity, not divisiveness and discord. Show why this brand uplifts all, not 50% of the country.
Blythe, J. (2014). The philosophy of ethics and the corporate conscience. Social Business, 4(3), 245–253. https://doi-org.ezproxy.snhu.edu/10.1362/204440814X14103454934258
Schultz, H. F. (Practitioner). (2016). Brand management [Video]. SAGE Knowledge. https://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781473988484
Nike’s Ad and Believing in Something. (2018). Anti-Defamation League. https://www.adl.org/resources/tools-and-strategies/nikes-ad-and-believing-in-something
New Idea. (2019, December 11). Nike Sweatshops: The Truth About the Nike Factory Scandal. New Idea. https://www.newidea.com.au/nike-sweatshops-the-truth-about-the-nike-factory-scandal
Enes Kanter is the NBA’s Man of Many Faces. (2018). Vice.com. https://www.vice.com/en/article/gye9g4/the-nbas-man-of-many-faces
Gyamfi, B., & Konadu, K. (2021, September 8). Black Lives Matter: How far has the movement come? The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/black-lives-matter-how-far-has-the-movement-come-165492
Murphy, Y. (2021, June 2). Blackout Tuesday 2020: One year later, what have companies done for Black lives? Vox; Vox. https://www.vox.com/the-goods/22463723/blackout-tuesday-blm-sephora-starbucks-nike-glossier
Apple, Inc. was originally founded as Apple Computer, Inc. In 1976, the year of its founding, the logo on the left in the image above was originally designed by the third, lesser known founder of Apple, Ronald Wayne (Apple Explained, 2021). However, it is the change from the rainbow apple logo that Steve Jobs quickly selected over the Newtonian Apple landscape logo, to the monochromatic Apple Silhouette in 1997 that indicates the major brand shift upon which the company became beloved.
On August 27, 1999, Apple replaced the rainbow logo with the monochromatic logo. “Like our products and our customers, the Apple brand continues to evolve,” read their marketing positioning statements at the time. (Dormehl, 2021) This marked the return of Steve Jobs to Apple and the kick off to their new branding, summed up in the “Think Different” tag which began to permeate their marketing materials.
“THINK DIFFERENT’ represented a new direction in Apple products. Simplicity and sleek design became the hallmarks of the Apple product offering. In 1998, right after the logo change, Steve Jobs discussed this with BusinessWeek saying, “That’s been one of my mantras—focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” (Farfan, 2016)
The brand vision supports their overall company mission statement: “Man is the true creator of change in this world. As such, he should be above systems and structures, and not subordinate to them.” (Farfan, 2016) This brand vision has persisted and been built on since 1998. The Think Different tagline speaks to man being the entity to be served by technology, not the other way around. Up until that point, computers drove how people interacted with them: usually a desktop computer with a corded keyboard and mouse. This method of interaction made humanity subservient to the method of interface with the technology – at a desk, on a chair. Changing this on it’s head, where humanity becomes elevated by using technology, drove the amazing success that Apple has seen after 1998. Interestingly, at that time, Apple also dropped the Computer from Apple Computer Inc and just became Apple Inc – a foreshadowing that they would be more than just a computer company.
This brand transition resonated with consumers at it made us feel part of something stylish, yet revolutionary. Thinking Different bucked the Big-Blue IBM style office culture in favor of a Gen X friendly streak of independence. Employees at Apple sensed this new paradigm as it drove the success, and very public failures, of many within Apple. External stakeholders benefited as customers, but investors needed performance. As this is not a blog about finances, I will pass on a lengthy discussion about what failed and what worked. In some cases, the company’s investors were its worst enemy. However, everyone acknowledged that Think Different summed up the challenge Steve Jobs was driven to conquer.
So what do we take away from Apple’s successful branding shift and naming?
Understand what your brand ASPIRES to. It’s not that the logo or company name needs to directly address it, but it should evoke emotion that supports the company aspiration. The simplicity of an Apple falling from a tree inspired Newton to theorize about gravity (well that’s at least the simple fable about it). It is the simplicity of that Apple, and an understanding of how it acted in nature that drove Apple to it’s $3Trillion USB valuation it enjoys today. SImple form, revolutionary impact. Not everyone will be branding the next Apple, but the ASPIRATION must drive the name, vision and mission of the company. It should drive day to day internal interactions with employees and other internal stakeholders. It must permeate the actions that everyone takes every day. Make the brand ASPIRATIONAL and share broadly what that Aspiration means through the name.
Apple Explained. (2021). History of the Apple Logo [YouTube Video]. In YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LWWH5LiMJc
Dormehl, L. (2021, August 27). Today in Apple history: Rainbow Apple logo gets a modern overhaul. Cult of Mac. https://www.cultofmac.com/498704/rainbow-apple-logo
Farfan, B. (2016). What Is Apple’s Mission Statement? LiveAbout. https://www.liveabout.com/apple-mission-statement-4068547
As a former employee of Konica Minolta, I feel particularly well suited to discuss the CSR measures of the company, both in the US and more globally. Konica Minolta (KM) has been concerned and active in CSR measures for far longer than many other companies. In fact, in 2009, they set forth an aggressive plan called EcoVision 2050 that sought to reduce all CO2 emissions to 80% of levels that they had been in 2005. Then in 2017, they added a carbon negative pledge to that, and have since updated their performance to announce they will be carbon negative by 2030, 20 years ahead of schedule. (Message from the Sustainability Officer – Sustainability | KONICA MINOLTA, 2020).
Their commitment could be seen in the products that they produced. Especially in the cornerstone of the “copier” industry, toner. Traditional toner had been produced by high speed pulverizing of carbon, and adding developer components that carried the toner through to the imaging process, until it was eventually transferred to the paper through electrical charge, heat, pressure and oil. Not only is this clearly a carbon/coal based product, but the subsequent power and additive requirements are not characteristically friendly to the environment (The Creation of New Value, 2010).
Their answer was to create a new type of toner from bio-resin waxes, which were completely biodegradable, used low power OLEDs to create the transfer charge (instead of high power lasers), required far less heat to be produced, and drew 75% less energy. I was fortunate to be one of only two US executives that travelled to the Tatsuno, Japan (located near the site of the Nagano winter Olympics) toner factory. While located in the mountains surrounding Mt. Fuji, and not very practical to reach, the water from the crystal clear rivers was needed to produce the toner. The only waste product from that manufacturing process is soapy water that is safe for the environment. Even product materials flowed by gravity through each step until the final product was deposited in large distribution bags on the bottom floor. The entire plant was powered by Natural Gas which was plentiful in the region.
In the US, the Corporate HQ that I was located in made the bold step to reroof all of the parking carport covers with LED panels, which allowed them to produce nearly all needed power for the campus.
However, not all steps were Environment based. Leadership in Japan and the US created a 5 Material Issues plan that focused on social elements, and specifically employee welfare. Steps were taken to provide paths for employees to bring forth charity activities from their personal lives to the company’s attention for their support. It also engaged employees in the official charities on an ongoing basis, such as the 5K Bridge Run for the National Kidney Foundation which had scores of employees either competing to raise money, or directly donating. In every office around the country, you see local charities that are being supported by public and private events. Employees feel as if their priorities around social welfare are important to the company. (Message from the Sustainability Officer – Sustainability | KONICA MINOLTA, 2020).
With all of this said, there are certainly issues that are not in keeping with this CSR message that I have personally borne witness to. These are my views and opinions, and are presented. as such. In the past 3 years, the company suffered internally from image issues related to ageism and misogyny. Several female senior managers and leaders seemed to be pushed out of positions and let go, in favor of what was perceived to be younger, prettier, more “hip” people with hardly a part of the experience. Even though the senior leader they reported to was herself a woman, she was no friend to experienced employees. In fact, I personally frequently hear comments that “that’s just not the way the world thinks anymore, and it’s old fashioned thinking”. Yet, these individuals who had been let go were performing their tasks very well, and didn’t need to be “hip”. The results were significant legal battles. These employees filed lawsuits which are certainly public record, however, most ended in private settlements. Significant financial settlements in favor of the employees each time. Yet, internal workings within many areas of the company never changed.
Further unmasking of this two sided coin, was when much of the workforce was downsized, purportedly for Covid business results, in July of 2020. I woke up on July 1 2020 to an email from HR with 12 letters of dismissal for my employees (a team of 45(. At no time was I asked about performance of the individuals, workload, and the impact to clients if they were forced to leave. Instead, there was no allowance to talk or renegotiate, and the firings had to be done that day. There were 100s let go that day. Understand that the group I ran was an essential part of the ongoing operations of many of our clients, and not something where slack could be picked up by others. We had been trying to double our headcount up until then. This cold, surprise method of essentially letting a computer spit out the candidates for elimination had one added effect. It caused me to actively begin looking to leave the company with which I had been so proud to work for 17 years. I left as soon as the next round of early retirement was announced. I am not alone. Many others followed as the actions of the company seemed inconsistent with the messaging from Tokyo.
So after all I have seen, the company is definitely Green for both profit and the environment. They’ve done those two things well. However, the Global nature of leadership is that while direction from the top may be X, the direction determined to embody that in local or regional companies may look like Y. As such, while profit and environmental issues are green, so is the color reflecting the queasy feeling I get when I think about the recent history of employee treatment.
Message from the Sustainability Officer – Sustainability | KONICA MINOLTA. (2020). Konicaminolta.com. https://www.konicaminolta.com/about/csr/csr/message/officer.html
The Creation of New Value. (2010). https://www.konicaminolta.com/about/csr/csr/download/2010/pdf/2010_en_all.pdf
When looking at the brand rivalry of Microsoft vs Apple, I go back in my personal history to the time I first met Bill Gates at a conference in 1978 called Wescon. It was a chance meeting, and I learned about the basic programming language interpreter that he had written for the Altair computer. A brief discussion that opened my mind. I was just a child of 13 at the time and my father had “snuck” me in to the conference. I had just started learning about computers with one of the first TRS-80 computers from Radio Shack, and I was absorbed by the scene. In this discussion, Gates talked about the computer one day becoming something that not only could run a business, but that could be used at home to control lights, thermostats, and even play games. I remember the car ride home- when I was raving about the possibilities, Dad asked if I was too lazy to get up and change the thermostat or turn off the lights my self – why would I need a computer for that? For him, the computer he had bought me was for word processing and probably some simple games – a step up from Pong.
In that moment I learned that Microsoft would one day focus on the ubiquity of computing, controlling things, processes, etc. Apple on the other hand was different. I had the opportunity in the late 70s and early 80s to work with the Apple II computer. The focus was clearly more on visual actions than programming. More games, fewer business utilities. As I entered the business world in the Graphics Communications industry, specifically digital printing, that difference was never more apparent. Up until very recently, if you spoke with a graphics designer, media person or Agency, and you weren’t on a Mac, you would be scoffed at. Meanwhile, when I had to outfit my national team of production printing analysts with laptops, and I insisted on Macs, the company IT infrastructure pushed back hard, always insisting on PCs. I won that battle but it speaks volumes to the paths that these two giants took in their messaging – Corporate vs Artistic, Right Brain vs Left Brain, Numbers vs Number of colors.
In the famous 1984 Olympic Hammer Throwing ad for Apple, we saw this dystopian, artistic yet cold call to action – breaking free of the rigid business thinking into new and great heights of individuality. Microsoft, however, focused on creating the best possible business productivity software which was not unique, but served as an important evolutionary point in the development of corporate communications and governance.
Now in the last 14 years, since the iPhone was released, we began to see convergence in messaging. Suddenly, business apps could be run on your smartphone, and cloud based software could eliminate the need for big corporate PCs at a desk,
So in this battle, who was he Dog, who was the Underdog. I submit each was both, depending on the industry and use case for each. Brand messaging played squarely to their bases, like political candidates. Apple embraced the artsy, graphics, design communities, Microsoft the corporate IT world. Interestingly though, they both attacked the schools. Both had significant brand presence, having both given away hundreds of millions of dollars of equipment and software to early education, in hopes of snaring brand loyalty at the most impressionable age. This battle continues to this day.
For our purposes, I will focus on Apple as the underdog in the corporate IT space.In order to perform better in this space Apple must convince the IT CIO world that Apple MacOS X is a more secure platform than Windows. In fact, most breaches of security happen due to Microsoft failures. This should be an easy case for Apple to prove out, but they will need to think differently. At the core, Mac OS X operating system is built on Unix, considered the most secure computing operating system ever. Developed by Bell Labs, until recently, it drove most industrial equipment because of its bulletproof nature and secure structure. Apple however, was so focused on creating a new experience on top of Unix, that they never took advantage of their natural benefit. So my 3 suggestions for Apple:
A public Hack-a-Thon event where hackers of all types are invited to hack into a secure Mac based datacenter and a Windows based datacenter. Just the mere bravado will get attention
Actively market to CIOs the concept of convergence from Windows to Mac in the datacenter, while allowing Microsoft operating systems to operate on Mac servers. Replacing the hardware without significant change to infrastructure. It’s only natural that the OS comes next
Micro-influencer targeting – find those who are respected in the industry and work with them to change their mind – not by paid interaction but by genuinely responding to their belief in Microsoft superiority, and then documenting their transition to liking Apple products more. Earned Media is key here.
Why do Microsoft users prefer them as a brand? Simple, this goes back to the old IBM axiom that if you buy Big Blue, you’ll never be fired. In other words, andIBM mainframe (and later PC) purchase was always safe since it was a known quantity. Such is the case with the risk averse IT world. However, when flayed open for the world to see, IT professionals should see that my preference, Apple and the Mac hardware/OS platform, provides a historically longer track record of security and stability, while, yes, being the trendier and prettier of the two as well!