Though the terms are often used interchangeably, there are many critical differences in marketing goals and marketing strategies, and it is vital to assess them and see not just the ways in which they differ, but also how they complement one another. A successful goal cannot be reached without an equally sound strategy, and a robust strategy without a clear goal in mind is a potential stumbling block.
In this blog, we will define successful marketing goals and strategies, and assess the traits that make them unique. Additionally, we’ll take a close look at the factors that go into shaping goals and strategies, from inception to implementation.
In essence, a goal refers to the result you aim to achieve, and, typically, this implies long-term outcomes. Goals should be defined early on, as they are critical to the success of your business, and serve to highlight your vision and purpose, which will in turn greatly influence your employees’ actions and decisions.
A common mnemonic that should be kept in mind when defining a marketing goal is SMART:
- Specific: A goal must be defined in clear, specific terms with no room for misunderstanding.
- Measurable: A goal must be easy to tackle and measure.
- Attainable: A goal must be realistically achievable. Setting high standards is not without merit, but care must be taken to ensure that you are aware of the resources available to you at all times and that adequate time is set aside to ensure that the execution isn’t lacking.
- Relevant: The goal must tie in with the bigger picture of your organization and line up with your specific needs.
- Time-bound: All goals should have a clear deadline from the onset.
As an example of a marketing goal, let’s also take a look at marketing objectives, a key term that can heavily influence the creation and execution of goals. Essentially, a marketing objective is a measurable action that needs to be taken by your employees to achieve your goal.
For instance, you may seek to increase awareness of your business. To that end, you establish a social media account and set a goal of attaining 1000 followers within a single month. This goal is clear, easily measurable, attainable, relevant to the needs of your business, and has an established deadline.
Now, what would the objectives be for such a goal?
There are several possible objectives for a goal like ours, but a basic, easily defined one would be to ensure that content is regularly posted to your social media account. Outlines must be set, and tasks must be delegated to ensure that this objective is executed successfully.
Goals and objectives, however, cannot be met without a clear strategy.
A strategy is the outline of a specific approach taken to achieve an already-established goal. While a goal should largely remain static with unchanging objectives, strategies are highly flexible and can change throughout a campaign if it becomes clear that they are not working as intended.
Four key characteristics go into the creation of strategies:
- Targeted: A successful strategy begins with the observation of the buyer’s persona. The strategy should be guided by the end-user persona so that you can easily identify and understand pain-points, expectations, and communications channels to focus your campaign on.
- Dynamic: Strategies must not be set in stone. One of the greatest markers of success is observing where a campaign is lacking, and adapting your strategy as a result.
- Data-Driven: A sound strategy should be driven by clearly observable data, as data-driven strategies allow marketers to calculate potential risk.
- Scalable: Strategies should be easily adaptable to larger budgets to produce desired outcomes on larger scales.
Planning strategies also involves analyzing your competitors. An eye should always be cast on how they are developing their campaigns. Understanding your competitors will give you a better working knowledge of the marketplace. Ensure that you are also observing not just your current customers, but ones who you are actively pursuing. This will help you see where the differences in the two groups lie, allowing you to develop broader strategies that can cater to multiple groups at once. Additionally, these observations can be compiled in clearly defined data (such as revenue level, geographical location, etc.) that can then be used to enrich future strategies.
Another facet of marketing strategy that can heavily affect marketing goals and objectives is your tactics. Tactics are, in essence, methods and channels you would use to pursue your objectives and goals.
Let’s refer back to the aforementioned social media goals and objectives. While we’ve established where we’d like to finish and have a general idea of how to reach that milestone by regularly posting content, we have no clearly defined idea of what form that content might take. An appropriate tactic to utilize in this case would be running campaigns such as giveaways on our social media pages, as these campaigns are known to increase user engagement, and can significantly drive up follower counts.
With all of this in mind, you should have a clear understanding of what goals and strategies are, how they interlink and work in synergy, and, lastly, how best to utilize both of them to help your business thrive.