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Develop Clear Marketing and Sales Objectives — 

Once organizational goals have been developed, supporting objectives need to be put in place. Among the various objectives that need to be developed to support each goal are your marketing and sales objectives. These objectives will specifically delineate what it is you want to accomplish during the next year (or longer if your plan covers a longer time frame) relative to marketing and sales variables.

Given the frequent confusion about what constitutes an objective versus what constitutes a goal, some clarification may be in order. In general, there is a clear distinction between goals and objectives. It is important to remember that goals are usually broad, general aims for the organization. The process of refining the focus begins with the development of objectives.

Objectives support goals. If your organization has four goals in place, for example, there will be objectives supporting each of these goals. And for some of those goals, there will be marketing and sales objectives that support and clarify the goal and communicate desired accomplishments related specifically to marketing and sales.

Objectives generally define specifically what must be achieved and when in order to attain the organization's goals. They do not indicate how the goals will be accomplished necessarily. The "how" comes in the form of strategies and tactics. In essence, objectives take the goals and make them more specific.

As a general rule, objectives should be:

1. Significant

2. Specific

3. Dated

4. Measurable

5. Reasonable

6. Consistent with each other

7. Focused on issues vital to the survival or success of the organization

An objective may apply to several goals and it is not necessary to have a specific objective for every goal. However, you will undoubtedly find that most goals will ultimately have multiple objectives tied directly to them.

Ideally, goals are, in some manner, measurable. But, in terms of quantifiable results, goals are often more difficult to measure than objectives. For example, take the goal "Increase market share in the men’s apparel line by a minimum of 8 basis points.” Can this goal be measured? Yes, in terms of increased market share. But, specifically, this goal needs objectives to bring more focus or specificity to it.

Here are some possible objectives for this goal:

Increase allocated shelf space by a minimum of 5 percent by 12/31/08 and by 10% by 12/31/20.
Increase sales of men’s golf apparel by 15 percent during fiscal year 2020 and by 20 percent during fiscal year 2021.
Increase sales of all cycling apparel by 20 percent during fiscal year 2020 and by 25 percent during fiscal year 2021.
Increase the number of retail outlets carrying the XYZ brand by 200 in fiscal year 2020 and by 400 in fiscal year 2021.

These examples show how the goal has been brought into greater focus. Some very specific targets have been established to help achieve overall financial strength. These objectives show what needs to be done to achieve the more general goal. They give a clear road map to accomplishing the goal. Also, these objectives are easily measured. Each objective has a quantifiable target and a date by which it needs to be reached.

How many marketing objectives should you end up with? This will depend strictly on how many are needed to support the goals. Avoid going overboard in developing objectives. Choose the critical areas that will support the goal(s) the most. Objectives that would impact the attainment of the goal in a negligible manner should not be included.

Too many objectives actually cause a loss of focus and can create some confusion in terms of priorities within the organization. Isolate those key variables that will have the greatest impact and develop objectives around them. Also, objectives can be separated out by product or service line to provide further clarity.

The important thing to keep in mind as you develop your marketing and sales objectives is that they will drive the rest of your plan to a large extent. What you want to accomplish is defined by your objectives and your plan must then define how you intend to accomplish the objectives.

And, as with goals, too few objectives could lead to poor support of the goals. The 80/20 rule might be a good one to follow here. In general, about 80 percent of what needs to be accomplished can be done by affecting 20 percent of the variables. While this is certainly a very arbitrary statement, you will probably find it, or some close variation, to be true more often than not. What this tells us is that by impacting a few key variables in a big way, the attainment of goals very easily could be a reality.

Developing a comprehensive marketing plan that provides clear and concise direction about marketing activities and strategy is critical to your organization's success. A marketing planning template such as The Marketing Planning Manual can be a big help as you prepare your plan. Click here to learn more about this popular planning tool

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