Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Writing a Marketing Plan? Plan for 3 Types of Objectives

During the 1950s, most companies were focused on planning for higher sales and profits. In the past 20 years, the majority of marketers have expanded their planning to include relationships, thinking about long-term connections with customers, communities, etc. Transactions deliver financial results, but building strong relationships leads to loyalty, commitment, and other positive results that last long after an individual transaction is complete.

In the past decade, more firms have taken an even longer view by planning for social responsibility; not just sustainability, but helping people, sourcing materials ethically, or benefiting society in some other way.

So when writing a marketing plan, you should be thinking about three types of objectives:
  • Marketing objectives. How will you use marketing to build relationships with customers, channel members, and other stakeholders? Examples: (1) increase customer retention to 90% during the coming year; (2) Expand distribution by selling products through 2 new supermarket chains in the next quarter.
  • Financial objectives. What financial results do you want to achieve? Examples: (1) Build yearly revenue to $10 million by October 31; (2) Improve profit margins on all products by 1% within three months.
  • Societal objectives. What do you want to accomplish through social responsibility? Link these objectives to your company's mission and how you aim to make a difference. Examples: (1) Use only recyclable packaging for all your products by yearend; (2) Raise $50,000 by holding a local fundraising event to benefit a nearby hospice.
Now that customers (both consumers and businesses) have so many choices and access to so much information, it's societal achievements that often differentiate competitors and demonstrate how companies have real purpose other than to make profits. Accountability counts: stakeholders expect to be told how much progress is being made toward societal objectives.

That's why Heinz, Nike, Dr Pepper Snapple, and hundreds of other companies now issue annual reports detailing their accomplishments in areas where they've set societal objectives.

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