Many businesses forge ahead without a clear marketing plan, growing their businesses in the dark. How measurable is this type of business model? How do you know that your business is reaching its objectives if you have never really taken the time to outline them in a quantifiable way? Only when you have a clear vision and measurable results (or lack of) can you know if you are heading in the right direction or when you need to shift gears.
A good marketing objective follows a simple outline. One that we use is called SMART. Here are the basic
- Specific – Your objectives should be stated in a precise way. What exactly are you trying to achieve?
- Measurable – Each objective should be quantifiable. This should include percentages, dollar amounts, new clients, or any other measurement that provides a benchmark that is measurable.
- Achievable – Are your objectives reasonable in terms of what you can actually achieve or are you setting your sights too high?
- Realistic – Do you have sufficient employees and resources to achieve the objectives you have set, if you don’t then they are likely to be unrealistic.
- Time specific – This final point is critical to your success. Make sure that your objective states a date or timeframe that you would like to reach this objective.
Like any other marketing, sales or business objective, social media should have its own set of tangibles. Although there are many objectives that one can measure or reach for, below we have listed some of the most common.
- Establishing thought leadership
- Increased sales
- Building awareness
- Increased reach
- Launching new services or products
- Improved SEO (Search Engine Optimization) rankings
- Providing customer support
- Competitive analysis
- Improved client relations
- Generating leads
Establishing Thought Leadership
People are more willing to buy product or use services offered by a company that presents itself as a leader in their industry or area of expertise. Brand loyalty comes from building that trust. Trust is built through transparency and information sharing. Show your existing and potential clients that you are the expert. Ways to create more influence can include: maintaining an active blog, contributing to guest blogs, speaking at conferences/events, launching a podcast or webinar series, or answering and engaging in social media questions and comment threads.
Do you want to measure growth in units, dollars or percentages? Maybe you would like to measure the per customer spend or percentage of profits. Another way to measure could be the close ratio of your sales force (i.e. number of sales obtained versus the number of offers or quotes tendered.)
Does your audience know what your brand stands for? What is your value proposition? Brand awareness is the degree to which customers associate your brand with a particular product or service. This goal is the cornerstone to influence and lead generation.
How far is your message spreading? If you have a set group of clients that you maintain conversations with, make sure to target them in your communications. You should also be trying to penetrate different markets and gain a loyal following, which will help your company generate new sales. Remember, you will not sell anything if no one knows about your offerings or you.
Launching New Products or Services
You have spent the entire year preparing for a new product launch. Your sales, marketing, research and director level divisions have labored endless days, months and hours to finalize this rollout. Why not create a marketing objective that measures how effective your various marketing and sales platforms are in launching this service or product?
With today’s information being so available, a viable objective could be to measure competition, strategies of similar companies, market changes or even a technical aspect of your business. The options are endless.
Companies might want to understand how actions taken by the business affected their customer behavior, the cost of acquisition, predicting future behavior based on previous actions, or maybe you would like to see which are the most popular services or products you offer.
When a company is providing consistent content and using their social and marketing tools effectively, search engine optimization increases. Why is this important? If you are on the front page of search results, your chances of getting seen are better. Most people don’t have the patience to sift through pages of search results.
Providing Customer Support
Online customer service has taken a huge leap forward over the past year or two. Not only do many of the younger generations like online chats and social engagement, customer service in this space can save you both time and money because of its immediacy.
Want to know more about that company in your industry, what your competitors are doing and how they are pricing their service, or their product lines and objectives? A valid objective for your marketing plan can be to better understand the competitive landscape.
Improved Client Relations
By embracing social media, you are also allowing for direct, immediate feedback from your clients. Negative comments and input can show how your company handles issues and that you care about their experience with your brand. Some of your clients may want to know more about one of your recent posts, they may want to give you positive feedback, or just like your stories. These are all ways to engage them further. Higher engagement equals repeat and new business!
By creating useful and engaging content and ideas, your company will generate leads. The key to new business is your consistency and relevancy.
We wanted to generate a few objectives, using the SMART model and objective types from above, to give you some idea of how these come together to form the final target:
- Increase email list sign ups through social media channels by 500 names by December 30, 2013.
- Increase enrollment in classes and workshops by 50% by June 30, 2013.
- Acquire 100 new donors through Facebook Causes by August 30, 2013.
- Recruit 40 organizations to join our LinkedIn organization page by June 30, 2013.
- Identify top 25 influencers on Twitter to build relationships to help blog, repost, and spread the word about online program by September 30, 2013.
- Increase likes and comments with fans on Facebook to 3 comments per post by June 30, 2013.
- Create video trailers for all productions garnering an average of 100 views per trailer for the 2013-2014 programs.
- Conduct an audience survey to determine where to expand, grow, and diversify social media presence for 2013.
- Enhance visual storytelling capacity and diversify type of content shared with a goal increasing videos by 10%, photos by 20% photographic and text that stimulates comments by 20% by August 1, 2014.
Once you have created your objectives, put the plan into action. Make sure your entire organization is on board with your new social media plan, then start measuring its effectiveness. Take the time to invest in a clear-cut methodology for measurement, as your strategy is only as good as the results you can see. Now, what are you waiting for? Make 2013 your best year ever!!