How to Set Effective Marketing Objectives

August 27, 2021
by Charlie Whyman
Setting B2B Marketing Objectives

How to set B2B Marketing Objectives so that you get a greater Return on Investment from your time, money and energy

Would it surprise you to know that otters are very good at setting objectives? Why? Some otters need to catch and consume a hundred grams of fish every hour in order to survive. That’s a huge hourly objective! Yet, despite impressively meeting this very specific survival objective, they still find time to live playfully and have fun! We can learn a lot from otters.

Objectives are the meaning behind the O in my marketing framework OTTER, so I thought it would be useful to talk about why objectives are so important when planning your marketing activity and give you some tips to help you get started.

If the thought of marketing makes you want to run away screaming, then my goal for this article is to give you something useful to use that will make your life easier (this is the article I wish I had read when I started my first business and thought all marketing was evil!). And if you’re already a marketing fan and are looking for a way to get even more from what you’re doing, my goal is for you to enjoy a different take on this topic.

But first…

A little word about marketing

Marketing has many definitions – but, at the end of the day, the PURPOSE of marketing is to generate revenue for the business. It doesn’t matter if you like it or not – you have to DO or DELEGATE it if you want your business to survive, thrive and grow.

Remember that marketing isn’t a standalone activity and there are many moving parts and areas you can work on. As such, it’s impossible to do it all at once, so you need to prioritise the activities that are not only going to give you the biggest bang for your buck (think time and energy as well as money here) but are also going to help you work towards your longer-term business goals.

There are three key ways to add revenue to your business:

  • Find new clients to sell to
  • Sell more to existing clients
  • Create and sell new products and services

To do these, marketing, sales and customer service all have to work together – harmoniously. I’ve never understood why marketing is seen as a standalone function in so many businesses, which creates unnecessary tension between teams that are essentially all working towards the same goal… increasing the revenue of your business. 

💡 Marketing should be thought of as an investment and not as a cost – the time it takes for you to get a return on investment will depend on various factors so it’s important to have a growth mindset when approaching your marketing and some key objectives in mind.

Why are marketing objectives so important?

If I had a pound for every marketing proposal I’ve read that didn’t mention objectives, my whisky collection would be very enviable by now! Everyone talks about business objectives, and most people understand that marketing is one of the main elements that will help you achieve them. But what people fail to do is set marketing objectives in order to achieve the business objectives.  

Objectives help you focus your activities so that you are doing exactly what is necessary to get you from where you are now to where you want to be. Without them, you are wandering aimlessly rather than striding out with a purpose. 

So, do you set marketing objectives so that your business will thrive and grow? Do you know what marketing objectives you need to work towards for your business to survive? Read on to find out how to do this…

💡 When you have a clearly defined set of marketing objectives that work towards you achieving your overall business goals, you’ll get to where you want to go much faster AND avoid overwhelm and distractions along the way.

Set your objectives with this three-step formula

Marketing objectives need to support and be aligned with your overall business goals – so, before you get started with your marketing objectives, make sure you know what you’re working towards. Think of your main business goal like the summit of your very own mountain and your marketing objectives as the steps you need to climb in order to get to the top.

For a business to survive, and ideally thrive, you should know exactly how many sales you need in a given time period. But that’s not all. You should know how many sales conversations you need to have and how many leads you have to generate each day, week and month to achieve those sales.

This can be overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be. It’s a case of breaking it down into manageable chunks. Following this three-step formula will help you avoid marketing overwhelm and will help set you up for success:

Step 1: Define your long-term objectives – where do you want your business to be in the next 3, 5 or 10 years?

Step 2: Define your annual objectives – what do you want to achieve in the next 12 months?

Step 3: Look at the next 12 weeks and outline 4–5 objectives for this period.

Why 12 weeks? Marketing can sometimes feel like an endless tunnel where you’re hoping to see the light at any point. A 12-week period is a great amount of time because it’s long enough to get stuff done and build momentum but short enough to keep your energy and motivation high. It also gives you time to identify things you need to stop doing or areas to optimise so you can keep making improvements.

But you need to be specific when defining objectives. I see the objective ‘get more leads for my business’ all the time. But this isn’t useful. Use these sentences to help focus in on your objectives: 

Setting B2B Marketing Objectives

Example: B2B Marketing Objective

Setting B2B Marketing Objectives Example

Outline your b2b marketing system 

Now that you’ve set your objectives, the next step is to devise a clear marketing system that will help you achieve them. Your system should act as a map to show you how your customers move through your business and give your team the confidence to know how all the pieces of your marketing puzzle fit together.

Your system starts with curiosity – how are you making your target audience curious about you and your products and services? A lot of marketers call this the ‘awareness’ stage. However, in today’s noisy marketplace, I don’t believe awareness is enough anymore – you have to instead make your audience curious as well as aware.

Once you’ve made your audience curious, you then need to spark them into action and capture a lead. How? Here are a few examples of how you can do this: 

  • a contact form on your website
  • an opt-in form for a free PDF 
  • a webinar sign up
  • a book 
  • a call link 
  • … and so on

We all know that not all leads turn into sales straight away and this is where your system splits into two paths:

  1. Qualified or hot leads go to sales 
  2. The rest of your leads need to be nurtured so you can develop that initial curiosity to create more urgency and excitement that will move them over to sales

Your marketing system should give you a clear picture of every client interaction step so that you know exactly how you will turn curiosity into leads, leads into sales and sales into repeat customers and referral partners.

Once you’ve mapped out your system, you can then identify the gaps, the missed opportunities and the areas for optimisation.

Real example: One client had been using webinars as their main lead capture method and came to me because they were struggling to turn webinar registrations into sales. Their initial objective was to identify another method of marketing that would work better for them. After our first exploration, we identified a few gaps in their webinar process. They had plenty of people visiting their website but only 43% of people that saw the webinar sign-up page registered for the webinar and only 9% of those people joined live. Only one email was sent to everyone that registered and then the process went cold. Their problem wasn’t that they were using the wrong marketing method, it was that their system to move their prospects through had a few gaps. After just three weeks, their webinar registration rate increased to 73% and their live attendance rate increased to 58%. They then started to average 3–5 sales call sign-ups after each webinar and implemented an email system to nurture contacts to move them to a sales call over time.

💡 Think of your marketing system like an adventure you take your clients on – one where they have a series of wonderful experiences with your business and want to keep coming back for more and tell other people about it.

Outline your b2b marketing system 

Now that you’ve set your objectives, the next step is to devise a clear marketing system that will help you achieve them. Your system should act as a map to show you how your customers move through your business and give your team the confidence to know how all the pieces of your marketing puzzle fit together.

Your system starts with curiosity – how are you making your target audience curious about you and your products and services? A lot of marketers call this the ‘awareness’ stage. However, in today’s noisy marketplace, I don’t believe awareness is enough anymore – you have to instead make your audience curious as well as aware.

Once you’ve made your audience curious, you then need to spark them into action and capture a lead. How? Here are a few examples of how you can do this: 

  • a contact form on your website
  • an opt-in form for a free PDF 
  • a webinar sign up
  • a book 
  • a call link 
  • … and so on

We all know that not all leads turn into sales straight away and this is where your system splits into two paths:

  1. Qualified or hot leads go to sales 
  2. The rest of your leads need to be nurtured so you can develop that initial curiosity to create more urgency and excitement that will move them over to sales

Your marketing system should give you a clear picture of every client interaction step so that you know exactly how you will turn curiosity into leads, leads into sales and sales into repeat customers and referral partners.

Once you’ve mapped out your system, you can then identify the gaps, the missed opportunities and the areas for optimisation.

Real example: One client had been using webinars as their main lead capture method and came to me because they were struggling to turn webinar registrations into sales. Their initial objective was to identify another method of marketing that would work better for them. After our first exploration, we identified a few gaps in their webinar process. They had plenty of people visiting their website but only 43% of people that saw the webinar sign-up page registered for the webinar and only 9% of those people joined live. Only one email was sent to everyone that registered and then the process went cold. Their problem wasn’t that they were using the wrong marketing method, it was that their system to move their prospects through had a few gaps. After just three weeks, their webinar registration rate increased to 73% and their live attendance rate increased to 58%. They then started to average 3–5 sales call sign-ups after each webinar and implemented an email system to nurture contacts to move them to a sales call over time.

Get help making B2B Marketing Objectives

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