Marketing Objectives: A Step by Step Guide

In 1999, management consultant Peter Drucker wrote that “business has only two functions—marketing and innovation.”  Innovation is, of course, a key aspect of business; after all, innovation is what leads to a company having a product or service to sell in the first place. But once the product is created, it’s crucial to spread the word and convince people that it’s worth their time and money.

Truly successful marketing requires setting specific goals and objectives. Otherwise, efforts can break down very quickly, resulting in a lot of expended resources with very little to show for it.

What are marketing objectives?

So what do we mean when we refer to marketing objectives? Marketing objectives are simply the goals that a company sets as it goes about promoting its products and services, all within a pre-set time frame. For example, one objective might be to boost a particular demographic’s awareness of the product. Another might be to make information about the product’s features readily available.

What makes an effective marketing objective?

In order to develop effective marketing objectives, there is a simple mnemonic device to follow: SMART. Marketing objectives should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timed.


Broad objectives such as “We want to improve our business” really only have one effect: they delay the burden of actually figuring out what actions need to be taken. While this might seem appealing in the short term (because who doesn’t want to get out of a meeting that’s already drawn on longer than it needs to?), in the long term, it really does nothing but waste everyone’s time and energy.

Each objective should be given its own plan, with the necessary steps laid out, in order to be truly effective. For example, if a company wants to develop a new product, that requires one plan. If the same company wants to spread awareness of that product, that would require a separate plan. As your objective’s parameters get broader, it becomes easier to miss key steps that must be taken in order to achieve that objective. The more specific you are when laying things out at the beginning, the more smoothly the entire process will go.


A simple declaration of “We want this campaign to do better than last year’s” means nothing. What does “better” mean in this circumstance? Set specific, trackable metrics in order to measure exactly how you are performing. Rather than, “Make our brand recognizable across the country,” a marketing objective such as, “Boost our website’s traffic by 5%” would be more effective. Other potential metrics might include the number of units sold, the amount of profit achieved, the amount of sales revenue, or the number of actionable leads generated.

A well-designed marketing objective will also have checkpoints and milestones built in. If the deadline is six months away from the start date, a monthly review of current progress toward that goal can help to adjust tactics and figure out what changes might need to be made.


A marketing objective that is impossible to reach doesn’t help anyone. On the contrary, it is setting the team up for failure, which can lead to a negative effect on performance. Take a look at past performance. If previous numbers are nowhere close to the objective you have set, then chances are you won’t reach your goal. Smaller, reachable goals mean that your team is achieving small successes and taking clear, visible steps toward the goal.


This goes hand in hand with having achievable marketing objectives. When you are building your marketing objectives, take a look at your resources and infrastructure and ask yourself, “Do we have the setup to achieve this?” Do you have the necessary number of staff members to handle the necessary workload? Do those staff members have the necessary equipment or other resources to perform the necessary work? Do you have the contacts needed to reach your objective? Do your staff members have the proper training?

If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” perhaps these are additional objectives your company should plan on. If you lack the staff, then create a solution to increase your workforce. If your staff needs additional equipment, set up a plan to acquire that equipment. Ensure that your staff receives the necessary training, whether that is negotiation training—to better learn how to work with both customers and vendors—or training on a necessary marketing tool. To better prepare your workforce with the proper negotiation skills to deal with customers and vendors, take a look at the negotiation training Shapiro Negotiations offers.


Finally, an effective marketing objective needs to have a solid time limit. Otherwise, rather than a plan, it becomes nothing more than a nebulous wish that will come about “whenever it happens.”

Which means never!

Create a solid target ending date. Then, depending on how far in the future that date is, set regular dates to check in on your progress. As time goes on, reevaluate and adjust the objectives to make sure that, as circumstances change or problems make themselves known, you are still able to achieve that final objective.

Defining your market objectives

So where should you start when creating your own market objectives? Here are two simple tips to follow to simplify the process:

  • Figure out why you’re creating the objective in the first place. Setting a marketing objective just for the sake of having a marketing objective is not going to do very much for your business. Take a look at previous performance and future goals. Does setting a new marketing objective improve performance or help to achieve those goals? Once you know what exactly you are hoping to achieve, it will become much simpler to design the objective and hone it into the exact tool you need.
  • Start with the objective—not the budget. The budget might be the instinctual place to start planning. After all, if the money isn’t available, then what good can the plan do? But if the objective is not well-defined and tailored to the actual needs of the company, then is the budget wisely spent anyway? The proper approach is as follows:
    • Set measurable objectives – These include financial objectives such as revenue, profits, and ROI, as well as marketing objectives, such as leads generated and content creation like blog posts, infographics, and other media.
    • List the necessary actions to achieve each of those objectives – This should include deadlines, actions that need to be taken and the person responsible for those actions, and contingency plans. If one of the actions is not successful, there need to be plans in place. Otherwise, all of the work that has already gone into the project is wasted.
    • Build a profit/loss projection of your plan – This should be a detailed budget that shows the allocation of resources. With the plan in place, you already know exactly what needs to be done, and you can plan around that. If the potential profits are high enough, you can likely justify a higher budget to accommodate the plan.


A few marketing objectives to keep in mind

It can be daunting to set your company’s marketing objectives from scratch. As a launching point, here are a few common marketing objectives to keep in mind as you lay out your company’s plan.

Building Brand Awareness

One of the first marketing objectives to reach for is to build awareness for your brand. People cannot buy from you if they don’t know you exist. Take Microsoft, for example. These days, you would be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t heard of the tech giant, but that wasn’t always the case. Largely due to the marketing prowess Bill Gates demonstrated in the 1990s, Windows operating systems grew to be used in nearly 90 percent of all activity on the Internet in 2010. Although the market share has dropped slightly since then, it still easily remains one of the most commonly used operating systems.

While brand awareness used to be limited to posting flyers, print ads, and billboards, the digital age has caused methods to evolve. As a rule, investing in online marketing usually provides the greatest return on your investment.

Social Media

Social media efforts grants one of the biggest audiences for showcasing your brand. Approximately 90 percent of adults ranging from 18 to 29 years old use social media. The majority of consumers will research a company online before making a purchase, and active social profiles and regular updates can work wonders when it comes to engaging those consumers.


A lot of companies provide a blog on the website, though not all are able to fully capitalize on it. A blog can do more than just boost the business’s SEO results. Information about a company or industry also helps to boost the reputation and awareness of the organization. Interesting and engaging blog posts also provide content for people to share on social media, which works to broaden awareness of a product or brand.

Customer Service

Customer service plays a vital role in several key points of any business and can be a crucial part in achieving your marketing objectives. It builds your reputation in a positive way while enhancing the awareness of the brand. Because return business is important for continued success, it may be prudent to invest in service training for your employees who will be directly interacting with customers.

Increasing Sales

Marketing objectives should include strategies to increase sales of products and services. After all, income is what keeps the doors open. This can involve a large number of practices, but here are a few that may be beneficial for your company. 

Sales and discounts one common approach to increasing revenue, especially for businesses that deal primarily in e-commerce. Coupon codes are often seen in pay-per-click campaigns to entice consumers. Some online companies will include credit vouchers with shipped items. If consumers believe they are getting a good deal, they often will be more willing to spend money. Free shipping for orders past a certain dollar amount can also encourage additional spending.

Social Engagement

Brand awareness is not the only arena where social media can have a positive impact; it can also play a part in increased sales. Many companies will use YouTube to demonstrate products or services, while others will display imagery on sites like Pinterest. Both of these examples can include a direct link back to your website, where viewers can purchase the product or service immediately.

Offer New/Complementary Products and Services

Offering new products to the masses keeps the consumers interested in the brand. You can’t rely on the success of one item to carry your company into the future. You may want to consider diversifying your organization to engage new customers or further entice the ones you already have.

Include items that can complement what you provide. For example, Symantec recently announced that it was acquiring Blue Coat so as to expand its product offerings and better serve its existing clientele with new Blue Coat technology. Perhaps you could expand the inventory to include products that are often used by your consumers, such as a lawn care service offering garden supplies. Understanding your target consumer can help you deliver the most profitable elements and expand your marketing objectives.

Evaluating your success

Keeping regular tabs on your objective is crucial. It’s not just something you can set on autopilot and leave. Fortunately, if you planned the objectives well at the start, this should be relatively simple. Whatever you set as the criteria for your marketing objective—website traffic, social media shares, or even revenue—that is the metric used to gauge your success. As time goes on, you can compare the actual numbers to the milestones you determined in the initial stages of planning. If you are not meeting your goals, then it is time to reevaluate your methods and make any changes necessary.

Nicolas Watkis put it succinctly: “Marketers won’t succeed if they don’t have objectives.” Planning out exactly what the business needs and monitoring goals as time passes will speed your company along towards those objectives much more quickly and efficiently than running in circles with vague claims that something needs to be done.

9 thoughts on “Marketing Objectives: A Step by Step Guide”

  1. Wow! I have been listening to my John Lee Dumas podcast about how to set S.M.A.R.T. goals and you just went over the breakdown of that acronym perfectly! Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals can help anybody accomplish their goal with an actual time period in mind. In the information age we all have a million and one ideas a day, but following through on those ideas is what separate the average from amazing people. I use this method not only in my professional life but also my personal and it has been working wonders for me.

  2. Great tip about starting with the objective not the budget. I think its often easy to lose site of the goal of things when money is involved so clearly defining what you want before working in the finances is a great idea.

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