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I will never repeat it enough. I’m actually pretty sure that if you perform a keyword search on this blog, you will read the words “start with the WHY?” over and over again. Wether it’s coming from my students, my clients, or my business acquaintances, I still hear way too often: I want to do a social media campaign, what should I do?

And my response is invariably the same: START WITH THE WHY?

A social media campaign is not a strategy in itself, it’s a tool. A tool that services a strategy. A strategy that services Marketing Objectives.

Truth is, not many people really understand what a marketing objective is. So, as I am trying to put together a few exercises to help students and clients do the exercise, I’m seizing the opportunity to jolt down this basic answer to “What exactly is a Marketing Objective?”

Simply put, marketing objectives define what you want to accomplish through your marketing activities.

Most marketing objectives will fit in one of those categories:

  • Maintaining or increasing market share
  • Developing new products / innovation
  • Meeting the needs of customers (current and new)
  • Entering a new market / market positioning
  • Gaining an advantage over competitors

Obviously, the correct answer to which category you should focus on comes from market research and a good old S.W.O.T (Stress, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis.

Most importantly, those objectives need to fit into the S.M.A.R.T model.

In the November 1981 issue of Management Review,¬†George T. Doran introduces the “SMART” approach, a mnemonic to guide people when they set objectives. Five letters to keep in mind:

  • Specific – are your objectives stated in a way that is precise about what you are hoping to achieve?
  • Measurable – Can you quantify each objective, i.e. can you use a unit of measure such as market share in percentage or dollars or other to provide a way to check your level of success?
  • 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 – When are you hoping to achieve these objectives? You need to define a timing plan with target timing for each specific objective.

Do you have defined marketing objectives? Do they pass the S.M.A.R.T test?