Oct 03, 2007
by JIM KRESS of Central Oregon Community College
This is the final article in a series about the writing and use of marketing plans for small businesses. This article was furnished to CBN by Jim Kress of Central Oregon Community College. Originally sourced through The Small Business Encyclopedia along with Knock-Out Marketing and located at Entrepreneur.com.
Where do we end up in our quest for a workable marketing plan? In the “marketing objectives” section, you paint your picture of the future: What marketing objectives do you want to achieve over the course of the plan? Each of your marketing objectives should include both a narrative description of what you intend to accomplish along with numbers to give you something concrete to aim for. Just to say you want to make a first entry into the Swiss screw machine marketplace isn’t providing much guidance. Saying you want to go from zero percent to 8 percent of the local market in two years is easier to understand—and both concrete and verifiable. If you’re not sure of the size of the local market, then aim at a dollar figure in sales. Your accountant will let you know whether you’ve succeeded or not.
If you’re new to the marketing plan racket, how do you set a quantifiable goal? Start with your past. Review your past sales numbers, your growth over the years in different markets, the size of typical new customers and how new product introductions have fared. If over the last five years you’ve grown a cumulative 80 percent in gross revenues, projecting a 20 percent to 25 percent increase in the next year is reasonable; 45 percent is not. Make a low but reasonable projection for what you’ll be able to accomplish with marketing support toward your new marketing objectives. Set modest goals to start, until you get a feel for the terrain.
You should make it a point to limit the number of marketing objectives you take on in a given year. Let’s face it, change can bring stress, disorient staff and sometimes even confuse your target market. Keep your objectives challenging but achievable. Better to motivate yourself with ambitious but worthy targets than to depress yourself by failing at too many enthusiastic goals.
Some typical marketing objective categories might include: introduce new products, extend or regain market for existing product, enter new territories for the company, boost sales in a particular product, market or price range or enter into long-term contracts with desirable clients.
To repeat, make your objectives simple, concrete, countable, ambitious and achievable.
Marketing Goals: Where the Details Start
Here’s where you come down out of the clouds and spell out how you’re going to make things happen. Each marketing objective should have several goals (subsets of objectives) and tactics for achieving those goals. In the objectives section of your marketing plan, you focus on the “what” and the “why” of the marketing tasks for the year ahead. In the implementation section, you focus on the practical, sweat-and-calluses areas of who, where, when and how. This is life in the marketing trenches. The key task is to take each objective and lay out the steps you intend to take to reach it.
One of the best ways to handle such details is through an activity matrix. A matrix is a grid table that lets you plot actions across time. When you’re developing a marketing plan, you’ll soon reach the point where you have to turn to your calendar and see when things should happen. A matrix provides you with a clear and very usable framework for such timeline plotting.
You can make the matrix as detailed or as big a picture as you want. It should, however, include everything that’s scheduled, when it’s scheduled and who the responsible party is. Don’t forget to delegate responsibility as you go.
There are numerous sayings that have been around business for quite some time. “If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there?” “If you keep doing what you’re doing you’ll keep getting what you are getting.” “What gets measured gets done.” Your marketing plan will help remove these comments from your business strategy.
Jim Kress teaches Marketing at COCC. If you need an answer to a marketing question or problem, feel free to contact him at 383-7712.