Building Your Marketing Foundation: Define Strategic Business Goals
In 2020, we developed and launched the Marketing Physical, a marketing strategy session that teaches business owners how to generate more leads for their business. As I have been working with business owners to assess their current state, identify strengths and weaknesses and develop a plan for growth, I have noticed key aspects missing from their business that will hinder their marketing.
The biggest hindrance I see is when they try to implement tactics without first taking steps to define higher level goals and messaging. Marketing tactics should be built off of the foundation of strategic business goals which are then used to outline marketing goals and define the audience and messaging. This article will discuss the importance of defining overall business goals before creating your marketing plan.
What is marketing?
When I first entered the world of business ownership, I mistakenly thought other business owners understood marketing. I quickly learned I was wrong and that being wrong should have been obvious. Most business owners have not spent more than twenty years learning about the communications process and how it applies to marketing strategy and tactics like I have. They have been perfecting their craft, whatever that might be, and providing it as a product or service to their customers.
When we start working with a small business client, they typically jump right into asking what tactics to use for their business. They often equate marketing to pay per click, social media and advertising in various forms. They jump straight to tactics. But marketing is so much more than the tactics you use to publicize your business. According to the American Marketing Association,
“Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”
You can see from the definition that marketing is a very broad term. It is basically anything you do to provide a product or service of value to your customers and then anything you do to let them know about it. It includes, but is not limited to, product development, customer service, sales, public relations and advertising.
In smaller organizations, you do not have siloed marketing roles concentrating on market research versus product development versus marketing communications, those lines get blurred. The point being, as a small business owner or start up, you are doing marketing when you are developing your product or service, learning from your customers and creating processes to ensure your customers have a consistent experience. Often what is missing is the intentionality behind communicating that value to prospects and customers to develop relationships and grow your business.
Taking the time to balance strategic planning with implementation is an important part of intentionally marketing your business. The best place to start being intentional is take a step back and look at your higher level goals for the business. If you do not have goals for your business, you need to define them.
Define business goals:
Throw it against the wall and see what sticks is not a good approach to your marketing. Is it better than doing nothing? Perhaps. However, you will be able to maximize your marketing budget if you are approaching your marketing plan with strategic business goals in mind. When you define business goals, you set the foundation for what you want to happen in your business over the next year or more. If marketing efforts do not align with those goals, you will at best waste precious dollars and at worst be working against those goals and hindering progress.
Your business goals are the foundation for a successful marketing plan because they inform the plan. They help you not only make the decision regarding what you are going to implement, but how you are going to implement it. Those goals will be translated into marketing strategy, marketing objectives and ultimately marketing tactics. Then those goals will be used to determine how you will use each tactic to drive business and measure the effectiveness.
Consider your website as an example. It is an important component of marketing your business, the digital face of your company. It’s the what. The how is in the ways you will use your website to make progress towards your marketing goals - goals that are driven by your overall business goals. It is impossible to determine the “how” if you do not have any goals to work towards.
This means that your business goals need to be well defined. Avoid creating vague goals like “grow the business” and instead be specific in regards to what you want to achieve and by when. I like the SMARTER framework, an adapted version of SMART goals by Michael Hyatt. With this framework your goals should be:
- Specific: what, exactly, are you trying to achieve
- Measurable: you want to know if you hit your goal, so make it measurable
- Actionable: use action verbs
- Risky: stretch yourself and your team a little bit
- Time-keyed: have a deadline
- Exciting: it is more motivating to have a goal you and your team are excited about achieving
- Relevant: does it align with your culture and stage of your business?
An alternative goal to “grow the business” that meets the SMARTER framework might be, “Increase revenue by 10% by December 31, 2021.”
Here is an example scenario to better demonstrate this concept. ABC Accounting is a small, CPA firm committed to providing high quality business planning and tax services to its customers. With over 25 years in business, ABC has found it works best with business owners who have more complicated tax needs and require more regular accounting support for their businesses. The client feedback is excellent, giving ABC high marks on their service and attentiveness to their client's needs. Their client's feel very well taken care of and trust in ABC's expertise.
They are struggling, however, to gain enough new clients to really drive the kind of growth John is looking for. They do receive referrals from current clients, but John's strategic plan includes faster growth than has been experienced with referrals alone. One of John’s business goals for the year is to increase the number of new customers by 9%.
From a marketing perspective, John would translate that goal into a marketing goal and then determine the best tactics to use to reach that goal. For example, he could set the marketing goal to increase leads 15%. He would then look into tactics that are a good fit for his business type or industry focus that will help drive more leads into his pipeline. As opposed to investing in tactics that would nurture client relationships, he would allocate his budget towards advertising opportunities that attract new prospects for him to nurture into new clients.
In this example, you can see the value of having defined business goals to help you create better marketing goals and be more intentional with what tactics you choose. Starting with business goals is the smart way to approach your marketing plan so that you can maximize your marketing budget and the efforts of your marketing team.
Have you already defined your business goals and are now stuck on where to go with your marketing? The Marketing Physical by Pace Marketing is the perfect opportunity to turn those business goals into a step-by-step marketing plan. Schedule a call now to learn more about how to take actionable steps to grow your business.