START WITH YOUR BUSINESS FIRST

So, we’ve settled on a basic definition of Web Marketing and reviewed a couple of key Marketing concepts.  Shall we begin learning Web Marketing techniques now?  I know everyone wants to learn how to get their website to show up at the top of every Google search, and probably excited to add your very own FaceBook business page at this very moment, right?

Before we go there, it’s probably a good thing to talk about business objectives first. You may ask, “Why do business objectives matter when we are in a class talking about web marketing?” To answer that question, we need to talk about the importance of business objectives.

Anything that a business does, including web marketing activities, should always be driven by what the business needs.  Generally speaking, businesses usually have business objectives, which are goals that the business wants to accomplish in a given time frame (oftentimes a year).  You might think of business objectives like New Year’s Resolutions for businesses, but unlike our personal New Year’s Resolutions which may or may not be completed, successful businesses usually achieve the business objectives that they set for themselves.

Business objectives summarize the goals that any business as a whole will focus on.  They will help to drive and direct every aspect of the business, including research and development (R&D), manufacturing, operations, marketing, sales, etc.  Every function of the business should be supporting the business objectives, to the extent that they can, with the activities from their area.  R&D, manufacturing, operations and other activities should be chosen taking business objectives into consideration.

This is why business objectives matter when we are talking about web marketing because your business objectives should drive the web marketing activities you decide to pursue.  Another way of saying it is that all of the web marketing that a business does should be done because it helps to achieve part, one, or more than one of your business objectives.  If a business activity, web marketing or otherwise, doesn’t help do this, you should consider why you are doing it.

This all sounds like common sense, but you might be surprised to learn how many businesses, big and small, have wasted time, effort and resources on activities that don’t help them to reach their business objectives.

This resource will give you a simple understanding of how business objectives drive marketing objectives, and consequently how marketing objectives can help us determine what web marketing activities to conduct to help make our business successful!

 

FIRST, HOW DO I SET BUSINESS OBJECTIVES?

If business objectives are that important, then where do they come from?  If you are part of a mid to large size corporation, it is probable that business objectives have been defined for you by “upper management.”  If you are part of a smaller company, business objectives may or may not officially exist.  And if you own your own business…it’s up to you to define them.

If you find yourself in the position of having to define your business objectives, don’t panic.  There are a number of methods to help you to do this.  For example, here is a brief article on how to set business objectives for small businesses from The Houston Chronicle (Links to an external site.).  The key to setting your business objectives is to make sure they directly tie back to what your business is, staying true to “who you are” as a business.  Here are a few tips on how to get going:

  • Start with the business.  Ask why was the business was created (in addition to making money), what is its “reason for being”?  This question can often be answered by looking at a business’ mission statement.  For example, Nike’s mission statement is “To be the world’s leading sports and fitness company.”
  • Brainstorm a list of options.  Consider where you are in your business’ life cycle (are you just starting out, or are you a mature business) and think of objectives that can help you realize your mission.  Business objectives often fall into four common categories:
    1. PROFIT: Objectives to increase profit (directly related to sales and revenue)
    2. GROWTH: Objectives related to expanding or growing the company (vis-a-vis employees, infrastructure, or other aspects of the company)
    3. SERVICE: Objectives related to customers (customer experience, customer service, customer acquisition & retention, education etc.)
    4. SOCIAL: Objectives related to social responsibility
  • Select the most timely and relevant objectives.  Looking through your options, choose the ones that are most achievable and most impactful.  Be sure not to select too many objectives at once.  Three to five business objectives is more than enough to handle at one go.
  • Make your objectives S.M.A.R.T.   Good business objectives all share certain characteristics.  You can use the S.M.A.R.T. acronym to help you create good business goals.  Let’s start with a simple objective as an example, “increase company sales”.  That sounds good, but it is too high level and broad to truly be actionable.  Now let’s try to make it S.M.A.R.T.:
    • SPECIFIC:  Include sufficient detail in your objective so that you know what you are trying to achieve.
      • Applying this guideline, we might modify the objective “improve company sales” to “increase sales in our west coast retail stores”.  This provides more detail so that we have a better understanding of what needs to be done.
    • MEASURABLE:  Include information in the objective that allows you to know when the objective has been achieved.
      • Adding onto the previous example, Increase sales in our west coast retail stores by 10% lets us know how much we need to increase sales by in order to achieve this objective.
    • ACHIEVABLE: Make sure that the objective can be achieved realistically and within reason.
      • An objective such as “increase sales in our west coast retail stores by by 10%” seems realistic and achievable, whereas “increase sales in our west coast retail stores by $100 Trillion” does not.
    • RELEVANT:  Choose objectives that matter to the business and its mission.
      • Increasing sales is relevant to any business, but take a look at this objective “increase peanut butter sandwich production in west coast retail stores by 10%”.  Unless you are in the business of selling peanut butter sandwiches, this objective is not relevant.
    • TIME-BOUND:  Include a realistic time-frame in your objective.  This creates a sense of urgency and gives a clear target for objective completion.
      • Modifying our objective as follows — “increase sales in our west coast retail stores by 10% by Q2, 2014” — we now have an objective that gives sufficient guidance so that it can be successfully achieved.

Once you have a clear set of business objectives, you are then ready to begin the next step in choosing what web marketing activities to conduct.