6 Takeaways from our Lunch & Learn: Setting Yearly Marketing Goals

On November 9, 2021, we held a Lunch & Learn focusing on “The Importance of Setting Yearly Marketing Goals.” We held a panel discussion with four of Birmingham’s industry experts and are here to share some of the key takeaways we learned through this event!

December 1, 2021

Almost all companies have some marketing goals, but many have no idea how to connect their marketing goals to their business goals and how to use these insights to measure success.

On November 9, 2021, we held a Lunch & Learn focusing on “The Importance of Setting Yearly Marketing Goals.” We held a panel discussion with four of Birmingham’s industry experts and are here to share some of the key takeaways we learned through this event!

Introducing Our Panelists

Before we get into our takeaways, we wanted to set the stage by introducing our panelists and how their experience added unique value to this discussion. 

Lori Sullivan is the VP of Marketing at Fleetio, a proactive fleet management software company. Because Lori has been with Flettio since its first days, she has seen how the building blocks of marketing evolved over time. Now, Flettio has over 150 employees, with a marketing team of twelve. Her team’s primary focus is on lead generation for the company!  

Javacia Harris Bowser is the founder of See Jane Write, an organization for female writers. Javasia also works as a freelance journalist and writer for businesses, including marketing content. She considers storytelling as the center of everything she does, and her marketing efforts are no exception. 

Drew Honeycutt is the CEO of Innovation Depot and is at the forefront of what's happening in Birmingham with startups and business development. Drew started as an entrepreneur and said that since he is not a marketer by trade, he is a marketer by necessity. He has seen many times how essential marketing is to running his business! 

Nicole Beachum is an assistant professor of marketing at UAB. She started a career in marketing in 2008 and then opened her own agency in 2013. After having a hard time finding new hires familiar with digital marketing, she reached out to UAB about closing this knowledge gap. After growing her agency for a few years, she moved into teaching marketing full-time. 

How are Marketing Goals Different from Business Goals?

While the difference between marketing and business goals seems to get confused or even blurred together, understanding the two is foundational in creating measurable and achievable objectives. 

Both are precise and measurable, but typically, a marketing goal supports a business goal. Marketing goals are one step on the path a business needs to take to meet its overall goals. 

Before setting any marketing goals, you need to know what your business objectives are. For example, if your primary goal is annual recurring revenue, your marketing goals might be centered around lead generation. At the end of the year, you would be able to see how many leads led to how much revenue and determine how much of your marketing efforts contributed to your overall success. Since data is objective, it’s a sort of “proof” that marketing works and that it’s aligned with your business goals. 

What Are the Right Questions to Ask When Setting Goals?

Your questions and goals will be different based on your company’s size and industry. But for most small businesses and startups, your goals will be heavily centered on revenue and revenue growth -- what it takes to keep the lights on. How much annual revenue would you need to consider the year successful? 

But success isn’t always just about money. Do you want to set goals for client retention? What about additional staffing? From there, the marketing plan will drive the sales enablement. 

It’s also important to think about long-term expectations and how to achieve them realistically. Let’s say you want to be a $50 million organization. For almost everyone, that doesn’t happen overnight. Start with a short-term goal that sets you on that path, such as becoming a $5 million organization by the following year. 

Your marketing strategy will change at each new phase of the business. If you're a startup, your marketing will focus on getting your message out there and showing people who you are and why you belong in that space. 

Your marketing efforts will evolve, but it all goes back to revenue growth. That's the backbone of every business. If you don't have revenue, you're not in business.

How Does Understanding Your Audience Play a Role?

Three of the most important questions when setting marketing goals are:

If you haven't identified who you're talking to and what matters to them, nothing you create will be effective. It sounds harsh, but it has proven to be true in thousands of businesses across every industry. It’s critical to identify your audience so you can understand their needs and relate to them.

Your content and messaging strategy must all be crafted around who you serve. Knowing that each person has a name, an age, a job title, a problem, and a measure of success drastically improves how you market. 

From here, you can create personas for your target audience and then speak directly to them in all that you create. When they give you feedback on your products or services, listen. When they change their behavior, take note. When they respond positively, lean into what works.

Another important aspect of this is learning to speak their language. How do they speak about your products and services, the problems they solve, and the way they respond? And using this language in your marketing message is a powerful tool. It’s great to hear a customer say, “Oh, it's like you read my mind.”

As marketers, we can get in the habit of using our lingo and terminology. If we don't pay attention to the words that our customers use when they're describing their situation, then we're going to miss them. We will miss out on a lot of website traffic, a lot of conversions, because we're not speaking to the people we're trying to reach. 

But this isn’t a limitation. If your content is very authentic and strong, it will attract other people too.

What are the Biggest Internal Challenges When Setting and Reaching Goals?

Marketing and sales teams have different day-to-day responsibilities, but they are both working towards the same goals. You will notice a drastic difference in a company where the marketing and sales teams are actively communicating! When they are aligned instead of siloed, each is serving your client and your company better. 

For marketers, your salespeople can often be your greatest resource. If you want to know what answers your target audience is looking for, who better to ask than the people who are interacting with them every day! Salespeople can gather powerful content ideas based solely on their everyday conversations with leads and clients. 

Making the most of client meetings is another great opportunity. Recording your calls or having a team member alongside you provides a second set of ears to recognize comments or questions that could add value to your internal strategy. 

How Do You Set Goals for Content and Measure the Results?

Some goals, such as brand awareness, are more challenging to measure than others. However, measurable goals are an essential part of your marketing strategy. 

Much of marketing comes through content creation. Content creation can evolve in many directions from just two ideas: storytelling and transformation.  

Understanding the story you want to tell, and the transformation you are trying to sell is the first step in creating content. If you aren’t clear on who you are, what you do, and why it matters, your audience won’t be either. After setting that foundation, you can set goals centered around these ideas by asking yourself, “What are the different ways we can tell this story?” 

How Can You Use Paid and Organic Acquisition Strategies and Measure Intangible Success?

Acquisition strategies are important because of their ability to help you reach goals for leads and conversions. But how do each of these play a role, and which should you focus on when setting marketing goals?

Maximizing your organic leads is critical, especially in the earlier stages of a business. You can get people through the door without having to pay for it, so why not focus on that first?

If your budget is small, remarketing is one of the best ways to utilize a paid strategy. If you’ve captured someone's information, there’s a much greater chance that they know who you are and they are interested in your product or service. Remarketing to these people provides great value. It's a low-budget audience to reach, and it converts at a very high rate. But to do that, you have to have great content.

Content looks different between awareness strategies and sales strategies. In the interest stage, what questions are these people asking when they know you exist? If they know you provide the solution to your problem, what would make them choose you over an alternative?

In the "desire" stage, customers have usually narrowed their options down to only one or two. So now, what content do they want to see? Does it really matter? Will a good review, helpful blog post, or perfectly timed social media story make their decision? 

It’s hard to determine if this one piece of content was successful. Sometimes the answer is no. Sometimes that piece of content mattered way more than you think. This is where attribution comes in. 

As a consumer, do you remember the first time you heard of Nike? Probably not, but there's a good chance you have bought a Nike product for yourself or someone you know. That’s why attribution is tough, especially when measuring brand awareness. Read more about attribution models here! 

There are some quantitative ways to measure brand awareness, such as how many times your business name is being searched on Google. But when it comes to brand building and measurement, differentiation matters. Differentiation can come from a creative perspective,  by standing out from your competitors. Sometimes differentiation can be in your messaging. Some of it is around how you position yourself in terms of knowing and caring about your customers.

Sometimes we can see success, and sometimes it’s happening in every action that plays a role in your overall goals. 

If you know who you are, what you offer, and who you are speaking to -- you have a strong foundation for setting yearly marketing goals! 

Contact us to learn more!

Writer: Gabrielle Mingus

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