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Setting Objectives
by Ray Jutkins

According to R.C. Cunningham, executive vice president of AFG Industries, "Every company has the opportunity to minimize head-on competition and maximize sales and profit potential by hitting 'em where they ain't.

"The key to finding where they ain't is a well defined strategic plan which ... evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of your company compared with the competition.

"This information ... becomes the road map that tells you where you are today, lets you see where you want to go tomorrow and how to get there. It's really knowing your market, and your competition, that makes the difference in selling a commodity product, a high-tech product, or a multi-million dollar piece of equipment successfully."

A company needs objectives. Focus and direction come from setting them. And from objectives come accomplishments.

Objectives provide a feeling of progress. They reduce the "wandering about" approach to achieving your goals and eliminate the practice of reacting to the "current situation," which far too many com panics use in setting direction. Acting in response to marketplace activity is a way of becoming just like the rest of the pack.

The purpose of objectives is to be very specific with information so you know what is expected. Here are some questions to answer:

  -What is the product or service (its features and benefits)?
  -What is the marketing purpose of this program (what you want and expect to happen)?
  -Who is your target audience?
  -What are the needs of this audience?
  -What is the single most important idea to convey?
  -What are the other copy points (in order of importance)?
  -What do you want the reader to do (type of action requested)?
  -Few people would question the necessity of setting goals in marketing. And, once you set them, you can change them, improve them, eliminate some, or add to them. But only when you're heading in the right direction from the beginning.

Ask questions:

Does your company offer a discernible advantage over what is available from the competition?
- Is your company advantage important to the market?
- Does your product/service offer a distinct advantage?
- Is the product/service advantage important to the market?
- Are you an industry follower or the industry leader?
- Are you a new entry with this product?
- Are you aggressively aiming to take business from the competition?
- Can you withstand retaliation to your approach?

Before any marketing or advertising program begins, most people have an idea of what they want to achieve. But they often express their in goals vague terms. For example, an objective "to increase sales" is not particularly useful. By how much do you want to increase them? In which product areas? Everywhere, or only in certain geographic regions?

Your objective must be defined, documented, specific and numeric. Here are some examples:

- Percentage of market share or market penetration as long a you can translate the percent to dollars in sales and in profits.
- Level of sales turnover by product or product group.
- Set number of new accounts, within a time frame.
- Number of revived accounts over coming calendar year.
- Break into new SIC codes during next fiscal year.
- Get into set number of new marketplaces geographically (i.e., expand your reach)
- Establish rate of financial growth from current customers.

Objectives are the foundation for all planning. Without them, you have no direction. You'll probably do your marketing by wandering about. You must have objectives to achieve your goals.

Alex d'Arbeloff, of Teradyne, in Quebec, says: "If you can't measure it, you can't improve it." Set your objectives so that you can measure where you have been, where you are now, and where you are going.

About Ray Jutkins, October 3rd, 1936 January 6th, 2005. Ray was one of the NMOAs most generous contributors. Over the years Ray supplied the NMOA with hundreds of tips and articles for members. This is just one of many. Ray worked with B-2-B and Consumer clients throughout the world ... including USA, Canada, Mexico, Asia, the South Pacific, Europe, the Middle-East, Central & South America, Africa. Keep an eye out for more of Rays marketing tips and how-to articles in the pages of Direct Marketing Digest and the article archive on the NMOA website.

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