The Marketing Plan: Goals and Targets
Your marketing plan should be reviewed constantly. If you plan in monthly or yearly cycles, you will want to assess how your marketing scheme is working. To measure results, you must have targets. Ideally, your marketing plan seeks to produce the maximum sales results, in the shortest possible time at the lowest possible cost. While we realize this objective is unrealistic, the closer we get to that ideal, the more effective our marketing campaigns will be.
As we have said repeatedly, before you invest advertising dollars and marketing effort, set out your plan or campaign and establish measurable goals. Without planning and goal-setting, how do we know when we’ve achieved out goals?
If you are a start-up, your marketing approach and plan will be quite different from that of a mature company. Your company has no sales and marketing experience on which to base a plan, unless you, the entrepreneur have had experience in the industry before striking out on your own. Most start-ups research the market in general and their specific target market, making assumptions about market trends, and then make a quality guess. You may study the market and the target customer carefully making best-case, worst-case scenarios but, when it comes down to setting targets, it’s still a guess. The market will tell you how accurate you were.
Experience helps in making better market forecasts. The experienced organization may simply say, we did X units or dollars last year, the market seems to be growing at a rate of 5% so we will set our sales target for this year at X plus 5%. So here’s a question, if the market is growing organically at 5% anyway and we’re content with that number, why would make the effort to develop a sales and marketing plan? We could just doze off, wake up at the end of the year and realize a 5% increase in sales. But what if our operating costs are growing at the rate of 7% annually? Obviously, a 5% revenue increase won’t cut it. What if, while we were asleep, the market shifted and our product mix is out of sync with market demand. Or, what if one of our competitors is growing at the rate of 15% annually, stealing some of our market share?
We prefer a bottom-up approach to setting sales and marketing targets. The process begins with an analysis of the market, last year and in the future. The same thought is given to our particular target market segment. We continue with an objective analysis of our resources, our competitors’ strengths and weaknesses and the trends in market forces. We may find that, instead of dozing off, we need to wake everyone up and make an all-out effort to achieve that modest 5% increase in a tightening market. If this sounds much like the marketing and sales planning we did before the company was launched, you’re right. The more you know about the market in general and your customer in particular, the better equipped you are to forecast, plan and stay competitive.
Get in the habit of making time to plan. Think of it as a roadmap. Yes, we know you have travelled the route many times. This year however, there may be detours, heavy traffic and all the gas stations are closed. Evaluate, assess and plan realistic targets. Then, assess results against targets as you progress. Be prepared to adjust goals and tactics as required. Keep records of your analysis and forecasts from previous years. History rarely repeats itself but knowledge is cumulative; your notes help you to recall. Finally, stay focused on your customer. The better you understand your target market, the more successful you will be.