In a previous blog post we spoke in some detail about the importance of carrying out a detailed situational analysis as a first step in the SOSTAC Marketing planning process. This situational analysis is an assessment of how the organization interacts in the wider marketing environment. In simple terms it means examining the company and asking the question “where are we now?”
It is only after we have really thought and examined this question can we move to the second stage of the marketing planning process which is about Setting Growth Objectives? The key question here is where do we want to go?
When I get to this part of the plan I always remember what one of my earliest bosses told me once after I had presented a 5 year marketing plan showing how we were intent on global domination. “Conor Have you ever heard of the saying a paper never refuses ink?”
What he meant was that it was easy to write objectives, targets and plans down but is the realistic. In other words have we a realistic chance of meeting these targets or objectives?
Of course in hindsight this skepticism on behalf of my boss at the time was quite correct. This is why the first part of the planning process “where are we now?” Is so important to get right.
Invariably this ability to deliver on “desired” objectives i.e. what would be good to achieve! Always revolves around the following variables. In all cases these resource issues revolve around:
- Money i.e. Do we have the financial resources to support the plan?
- People i.e. Have we the skills available to deliver on the tactics/strategies required?
- Time i.e. can we achieve our objectives within a realistic time frame?
These are essentially resources that must be factored into the planning process to ensure that the organisation has the ability to deliver on the Strategy objectives and targets.
A key outcome of the situational analysis is the completion of a SWOT analysis and this is when the impact of these variables can be fully assessed. The SWOT analysis will also help you to identify the small number of what are called “critical success factors” These are organisational issues which must be addressed and will have a very direct impact on the organisation ability to deliver on objectives.
When setting objectives it is really important to have a very clear idea of what represents success from a Digital perspective. In many instances the Digital presence is only a part of the “bigger picture”. In other words there are often offline Marketing/revenue objectives which must be considered. A typical company operating in a B2B market will most likely have an internal or external sales force which requires their digital assets to generate leads on their behalf. The same could apply to a high street retailer or E Commerce business who hopes to sell online but also would like to drive footfall to their bricks and mortar stores.
In this regard the starting point in setting objectives is to start at the highest level possible in the organisation and work downwards towards the day to day operational objectives.
When I say the highest level I am stalking about fairly broad marketing objectives such as:
- Increase in overall market share in a given industry
- Increase in total revenue
- Generate more sales leads
- Grow brand awareness
- Increase in revenue from online activities
- Diversification into new markets
- Reduction in dependency on existing markets /clients
Once these have been established the next question “what part does Digital marketing play in achieving these objectives and what does our Digital marketing need to deliver?
This requires thinking about what the online goals are for each objective. In other words what defines success in an online context to help the organisation meet its broadest objectives outlined earlier? For a B2B company this is most likely involves the creation of a potential sales lead.
Let’s stick with our B2B example .Next we need to think about what KPI’s are relevant to this objective. This can be measured by the number of what we call lead conversions. This is measured as a % of the number of website visitors who download something or fill out a lead conversion form .For the majority of websites a Lead conversion ratio of 2-3% would be the norm, In other words for every 100 people that visit a website 2 or 3 people will give some contact details and thus generate a lead.
The next question is therefore how many Leads we need to generate on a monthly/weekly basis to meet our revenue or sales targets identified earlier. Setting targets is important because they represent a numerical value that determines success or failure. It is important to set targets that are realistic and achievable. This goes back to the point we highlighted earlier in our situational analysis in relation to our resources. Have we the time, resources (Money) and knowhow (skillset) to deliver on what we need to do.
The last part of this objective setting exercise is about looking for insight to determine what segments or target markets represent the best chance of success. Where should we be focusing our efforts? The secret here is to examine existing analytics and think in terms of acquisition, online behavior and outcomes. We need to identify what types of visitors or sources of traffic deliver the best outcomes. What are their attributes, behaviors and business outcomes that they care most about? Again these ties directly back to our planning at the start of our strategic process and the exercise of identifying your ideal customers and their market personas.
The challenge of attracting your online prospect attention is intense. This is what we call the “battle for mindshare”. Without a well defined strategic process the likelihood of success or achieving objectives is remote. At Emarkable the starting point for all our engagements is the creation of Digital Marketing Strategic Plan.
Emarkable are specialists in B2B marketing. We partner with companies who outsource their marketing challenges to us. We help to create an effective online presence on their behalf.