Your Business Objectives: Where Marketing Conversations Need to Start

Succeeding in today’s highly competitive marketplace requires a keen understanding of your business objectives and the ability to resist the latest marketing fads. Unfortunately, some business owners still make decisions based on opinions and intuition, which can do more harm than good for a business. Below is a look at the top marketing mistakes made by business owners and executives along with five steps to help you avoid these pitfalls.

What are the top marketing mistakes made by business owners?

Marketing mistakes seem to share a common thread: they are often the result of business owners making uneducated decisions about their marketing platforms. Here is a look at the top five marketing mistakes made by business owners and executives when it comes to their business objectives.

1) Executives make decisions based on what they “think” is true

“There is nothing wrong with intuition and ‘common sense’ and these are naturally part of decision making in business. However, where the decisions require large financial resources and where the costs of failure are high, there is a need for decision making based on robust and reliable data.”

- Paul Hague, Julia Cupman, Matthew Harrison, and Oliver Truman, KoganPage

Could you imagine packing your clothes for an overseas trip according to what you think the weather might be like in your destination country? Probably not. You likely conduct some initial research or at least check the weather forecast prior to packing.

Unfortunately, many executives use an approach like this in the business world. They make critical marketing decisions based on what they think is true. Rather than considering the facts or verified data, business owners use their intuition, subjective opinions, or random ideas as a basis for launching a marketing initiative.

2) Business owners refuse to share relevant information with marketing teams

Holding information hostage does little to benefit your marketing strategy. However, many business owners and decision makers do not want to divulge information about revenue or business objectives to their marketing teams or partners. This refusal to share information creates a cloudy work atmosphere in which selecting marketing initiatives is much like throwing darts in the dark.

3) Executives make decisions based upon the latest marketing fads

“Fads are here today, gone tomorrow happenings. They are sudden changes in consumer markets or tastes that happen momentarily but don’t create a lasting change on consumers or their habits…Fads emerge quickly, suck up a lot of attention and consumer demand for a short time, and then die off just as quickly.”

- Jeffrey Phillips, Senior Consultant, RTI Innovation Advisors

Few things are more frustrating than being in a meeting with an executive who is pushing the latest marketing fad he read about while surfing the internet. Examples of marketing fads that have undermined companies include keyword stuffing and purchasing contact lists.

4) A marketing strategy is used because “we have always used it.”

Just because you have used the same marketing approach for the past five years does not mean that you should continue to use it. Unless you can verify that a marketing initiative is significantly increasing your conversions or helping you achieve your business objectives, it might be time to reevaluate your collection of marketing strategies.

5) Decision makers do not understand basic marketing principles

“Keep your overall goal in mind when you’re developing campaign strategies. If you lose sight of this, your efforts could be wasted and even damage your brand in the long run.”

- Jeff Previte, Marketing Specialist and Writer

Stakeholders, executives, and other decision-makers should possess at least a general working knowledge of basic marketing principles. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. They often make decisions without considering shared goals, characteristics of their target audience, or product parameters.

What steps can you take to avoid these pitfalls?

Avoiding the mistakes above requires recognition that decisions regarding business objectives should be based on facts and data as opposed to subjective opinions. More importantly, the marketing strategies you choose should be continually monitored and should always reflect your business goals. By following the five steps below, you can position your business for future success.

Step One: Clearly outline your business objectives

“An “objective” is something you’re trying to achieve — a marker of the success of the organization. At the other end of the spectrum is “action.” This occurs at the individual level — a level that managers are presented with day after day…”Strategy” takes place between these two at the organization level and managers can’t “feel” that in the same way. It’s abstract.”

- Graham Kenny, Harvard Business Review

Knowing your business objectives is the single most important step to take when developing a marketing plan. If you do not possess a clear understanding of what your business is trying to achieve, your marketing plan will likely fail. If you are struggling to define your business objectives, you can make headway by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What would I like my business to accomplish over the next 12 months?
  • Who is my target audience? What types of prospects do I hope to attract?
  • How would I like for my business to help customers, employees, and investors?
  • What is my marketing budget? How much can I afford to dedicate to marketing?

Step Two: Incorporate your marketing plan into all aspects of your business

“Marketing works best when fully integrated into all aspects of business strategy and function…CEOs can support the business (and not just the marketing team!) by making sure that marketers are involved from the strategy phase forward, assessing the market and customer needs from day one.

- Anne Ashbey, MDsave, Inc.

The best way to ensure that your marketing plan is well received is to secure the support of stakeholders and your executive team. This means ensuring that decision-makers understand marketing goals and the marketing strategies proposed to achieve them. Essentially, you create a marketing-infused work culture in which all employees share a similar vision.

Step Three: Track your results

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

John Wanamaker

Exceeding your sales and revenue goals is a wonderful feeling. But if you are not sure which marketing strategies were the key drivers for your success, you are merely left to guess which tactics produced results. And this lands you squarely back at the first mistake outlined above: making decisions based upon what you think to be true.

You will likely find that tracking results will prove to be easier with strategies such as pay-per-click campaigns, SEO programs, and e-mail marketing campaigns, as these tactics yield measurable results. Monitoring results of sophisticated inbound campaigns will prove to be more challenging but is still possible with the help of a seasoned marketing analyst.

Step Four: Ensure that sales and marketing goals are aligned

“…There is no question that, when Sales and Marketing work well together, companies see substantial improvement on important performance metrics: Sales cycles are shorter, market-entry costs go down, and the cost of sales is lower.”

- Philip Kotler, Neil Rackham, and Suj Krishnaswamy, Harvard Business Review

Aligning sales and marketing goals can lead to stellar results and a healthier bottom line. For instance, you can shorten the sales cycle and bolster lead generation. Here are some best practices suggested by the AMA to help you align your sales and marketing goals:

  • Involve members of the C-suite when developing lead generation tactics
  • Hold marketing directors accountable for revenue generation
  • Ensure that marketing managers receive a copy of your sales goals and forecast
  • Schedule monthly meetings between sales management and marketing management
  • Develop case studies and testimonials to help move customers through the sales funnel

Step Five: Review your marketing plan on a regular basis

“You need to make someone responsible for monitoring progress and chasing up overdue activities. Reviewing progress will also help you learn from your mistakes so that you can improve your plans for the future.”

- Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal

Never assume that you can relax once you have completed your marketing plan. Failure to periodically review and update your marketing plan can limit your results. Recognizing that your work has only just begun is essential to your company’s long-term success. Here are some tips to heed to make sure that you are continually improving your marketing plan:

  • Review your marketing plan in conjunction with your business objectives at least twice per year
  • Eliminate marketing strategies that have failed to positively impact your bottom line
  • Communicate marketing results to members of your management team
  • Involve stakeholders and decision makers in the revision of your business plan

The Bottom Line

The single biggest marketing mistake made by decision makers is failing to base decisions on facts, data, and sound marketing principles. Fortunately, this mistake can be avoided by following the five steps above and by linking marketing decisions to clearly defined business objectives.

A seasoned marketing specialist can provide you with the tools and support you need to ensure that your organization makes sound marketing decisions that are based on facts and reality. With the guidance of an accomplished industry expert, you can develop a marketing plan that will take your organization to the next level of success.

This article first appeared on Jefflizik.com

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