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The Importance of Goal Setting in Creating Effective Marketing Plans

A few years ago, devising a marketing strategy appeared as a seemingly new trend to be adopted as a peripheral component of SEO. Today, the process of developing and implementing a well-rounded plan is now integral to an effective campaign and is viewed by many experts as one of the most important aspects of your overall marketing strategy. This applies to any company that is beginning a marketing campaign or re-starting an existing one, whether the campaign is following traditional, tried-and-true routes or emphasizing the use of online marketing channels. Unfortunately, you cannot simply throw together a flashy advertising package, cross your fingers, and hope for the best.

To provide a marketing campaign or overall strategy with an optimal opportunity to succeed, there are several things you need to identify and thoroughly define. The “five Ws” learned in grade school make it easy to determine what needs to be defined and incorporated into the foundation of your marketing plan. These five items are:
• WHAT you are marketing (a brand, product, idea, service, or something else entirely)
• WHO you are marketing to (your preferred audience or desired consumer)
• WHY they should choose what you are marketing over similar (or identical) offerings being marketed by your competition
• WHERE your marketing content will be most effective (email, sponsored advertising, social media, or one of many other marketing channels)
• When your marketing efforts have achieved success (a clear goal to be reached that will determine whether or not your marketing strategies are working as expected or may need to be revised)

While the traditional order for the “five Ws” is who, what, where, when, and why, the order shown above should be followed when you are developing your marketing plan. Each subsequent item relies on the prior one to be fully defined. It is perhaps most important, however, to ensure that the final item – deciding when your marketing efforts have achieved success – is well defined to establish a set of unambiguous goals you hope to accomplish with your marketing efforts.

While the creation of a clearly defined set of goals is considered a vital part of an overall marketing strategy, it is often the most overlooked aspect. This can not only make it harder for you to implement an effective campaign but can sometimes lead to the failure of your marketing efforts entirely. The reason for failure is because you do not have a finish line in the distance that you are striving to reach. In other words, if you don’t know where you are going, you will certainly not know when you have arrived.

Now that you know how important it is to have a set of goals that are clearly articulated and thoroughly defined, you should understand the importance of making sure those goals are realistic and attainable. It may be tempting to list goals that are accompanied by dollar signs, but there are many different types of goals that can indicate that your marketing efforts have achieved success. Some of these goals include:
• heightened brand awareness
• increased site traffic
• higher conversion rates
• decreased shopping cart abandonment
• improved lead generation from specific marketing channels

Instead of leaving your goals somewhat vague and open-ended, you should set precise targets that can pinpoint a specific moment of achievement. For example, if you currently see a 30 percent conversion rate from Twitter advertising, you could set a goal of attaining 38 or 44 percent. If your shopping cart abandonment rate is 18 percent, your goal could be to decrease that rate to 15 percent or lower. It is natural to hope for a 100 percent conversion rate on Twitter or no shopping cart abandonment at all, but it is certainly not realistic. As you reach your goals, you can always adjust them incrementally.

An important thing to keep in mind when creating and implementing a detailed marketing plan, as well as when defining goals to be achieved as part of that plan, is that your focus should be on your target audience – not your bottom line. Overt salesmanship is abundant and consumers are constantly wading through a marketing mire to reach meaningful messages from companies they need to connect with. Make sure your marketing campaigns are designed to encourage and strengthen business-to-consumer relationships, motivate action into your sales funnel, educate your audience, and engage them in unique and refreshing ways.

When your goals are more precise and specifically defined, as well as attainable and realistic, it is much easier for you to create marketing strategies that revolve around those goals and function effectively to help you achieve them. As you define and refine different components of your marketing strategy, including your goals and the steps that will help you reach them, you’ll be able to identify aspects of your campaigns that may need minor adjustments or major renovations to keep you moving forward as successfully as possible.