What are you aiming to achieve?

In recent weeks I have had a number of conversations in clients meetings and at our Marketing Club about marketing objectives.
It still surprises me how many businesses embark on marketing activity without a clear and agreed statement of what they are trying to achieve. It’s not surprising that evaluation of marketing is difficult if we can’t be sure what result we were aiming for in the first place.
Of course, this doesn’t just apply to marketing, it is true for any business activities and probably in our personal lives too. However, I’m going to limit my comments to marketing today.
So what kind of marketing objectives can we set? I try to keep to just two.
The first is changing how people behave, the second is changing what people believe. The most important of these is behaviour as that is generally what puts pounds on the bottom line, but sometimes we have to change what people think before we can change their behaviour. I would challenge any marketing objective that can’t be classified under one of these two headings.
Once we have identified the behaviour or belief change we are targeting, the next step is to add the before and after measures. What is the behaviour now and where are we trying to get to? For example we might want to increase the average frequency of purchase from once a month to twice a month, or we might want to increase prompted awareness of our brand from 10% to 15%. Finally, we need to add a timescale – by when do we aim to achieve the stated behaviour or belief change?
To make this objective really powerful, we can then identify how we are going to measure our actual results. There’s not much point setting out to change a behaviour if we have no way of measuring or at least estimating what the activity accomplishes. Typically, belief changes are harder to measure, but careful thought, applied when the objective is set and before the activity is designed can usually find a way to measure what is achieved.
As the old saying goes – “If you don’t know where you are aiming to go, the only thing you can be sure of is that you won’t get there!”