When first exploring digital marketing and social media, it’s okay to not necessarily know exactly what you want to achieve. Many small business owners simply start out with ideas such as “I want more sales”, or “I just want the phone to ring”, or “I want people to talk about my company”. If you want to achieve remarkable results and ongoing success with your strategy, you’ll have to move beyond to create meaningful objectives for your small business.
Now, whether you choose to employ an internal marketing resource or engage a third party doesn’t really matter. What matters is that it’s a marketer’s role – internal or external – to help get really clear and drill down on exactly what you as the business owner or manager are looking for.
This is the starting point of a successful marketing campaign. Getting really clear on your specific audience is critical to ensuring three things:
- Your budget goes further
- Your message is relevant to your specific audience
- Your efforts are rewarded in the results you obtain
Time to get smart
One thing I often find that helps to clarify these issues and set the foundations for objective setting is to use the old SMART principle: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Realistic, Timely.
I’ve seen and worked with many businesses that find being specific really difficult. After all, many of them have products and services that could be used by or appeal to just about anybody. This is the key to being specific: you must drill down into who the key target market is.
What types of cars? How much do they spend on them? How old are the cars? What makes? Where do these people live?
What types of homes? What locations? How many people live in them? How big are the homes?
What sports? Are you after participants or spectators? What age groups? What skill level: beginners or experts?
These types of questions are just the beginning, and you should be updating your questions and data on your target market regularly. Focus is the key to success when it comes to your digital marketing and social media efforts.
If you can’t measure the effectiveness of your set objective, and more so the outcome of your activity that is focused on that objective, how will you know if it’s succeeded? The beauty about working the digital and social space now is our ability to measure everything. Even in its simplest form, without getting too technical, you can reliably measure the effectiveness of your efforts and assess them against the objectives you have set.
Setting an objective becomes the foundation of your marketing strategy, which results in the determination of your digital marketing and social media tactics. It’s important that you ensure your objective is attainable. As a small business owner you will weigh up the risks involved, and determine if what you are looking to achieve is going to be possible given the timeframe, budget and resources at hand. An unattainable objective might be to get one million hits on your website next month; an attainable objective might be to get 20,000 hits. An unattainable objective might be to triple your revenue in three months. An attainable objective might be to increase your revenue by 40% in that time.
Realistic and relevant
It seems many businesses tend to be great and do a particular thing really well, yet when it comes to wanting to embark on digital marketing or social media strategies, the focus tends to be on something pretty left of centre or out of the usual realm of their business. As such, being realistic in the goal setting ensures you aren’t setting yourself up for failure. There is immense value in the long game here: conservative, considered and consistent growth over a sustained period. So make your objectives realistic and relevant to what you are doing.
Without a timeline to execute and achieve your objective, it will become easy to digress, or worse, cut things short or go for too long.
To help you establish timeframes consider the following:
- Marketing strategies: these should be set on average six months to a year in advance.
- Digital strategies/campaigns: most of these tend to yield the best results when executed for at least a three-month period. Often what is overlooked here is the need for ongoing refinement and tweaking in order to optimise the campaigns to be most effective.
- Social strategies: if the decision is made as an organisation to engage in a considered social media strategy then you need to be willing to commit for the long term
Hopefully you are beginning to feel a little more comfortable about what you have done or are planning to do moving forward when it comes to objective setting. As you can see there is no need to over-complicate things. The simpler the better.
This is an edited extract from I Just Want It To Work: A Guide to Understanding Digital Marketing and Social Media for Frustrated Business Owners, Managers and Marketers by Kevin Spiteri – designed to educate business owners, managers and marketers about the digital and social media marketing space.
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