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Marketing Strategy

How to Translate Business Goals into Marketing Goals

By Kieran Powell

September 8, 2020

Marketing departments best support business strategy when they’re working in alignment with company leadership and the business’ objectives. To do this effectively marketing needs a strategy that empowers team members with specific, measurable, and attainable marketing goals. This is achieved by implementing the strategic planning process. Through a five-step process business leaders can create a strategic plan that aligns individual team goals with the business’ high-level goals.

Translating business goals into marketing goals is the first step of the strategic planning process. To do this step well company leadership need to work strategically to refine business goals and create subgoals before identifying what marketing can influence and therefore what the marketing goals are.

Translating Business Goals into Marketing Goals: The Challenges

When it comes to translating business goals into marketing goals there are 3 common challenges that often go unnoticed:

  • The company is missing a strategic layer between leadership and marketing

Leadership will identify business goals like “reach $100M in annual revenue”, but sometimes it is not always within the capabilities of the team to decipher what needs to happen in order to achieve this goal. This often happens when the strategic layer between company leadership and marketing teams is missing.

Without a strategic planner like a CMO or external agency, challenges 2 and 3 often arise.

  • Business goals and marketing goals are assumed to be the same

This is harmful because it leaves marketing teams to interpret business goals and their role in achieving them. Consequently, marketing teams self-structure and set their own well-intentioned goals. This is risky and it can result in disjointed teams.

The solution is to refine business goals and create subgoals before establishing marketing influence.

  • Marketing goals are confused with marketing tactics

It’s common for marketers to think in marketing tactics instead of goals. Marketing tactics include public relations campaigns, paid advertising, email marketing, social media marketing or search engine marketing. All of which have a place in the strategic planning process, but not in step 1.

The risk of starting with marketing tactics is that the strategy non-existent. If marketing teams don’t know what they need to achieve they won’t be implementing tactics efficiently.

These challenges are usually apparent when company leadership is missing a strategic CMO or a partnership with a strategic planning agency. It’s the strategic layer that bridges the needs/wants and communication from leadership to internal teams.

Refining business goals and creating subgoals

Business goals are based on the needs and wants of the business and might include language like ‘we want to grow the business by…’, ‘we need more leads from the website’ or ‘we need to improve our product or service by…’.

It’s easy to identify a business goal because the goal is reflective of the desired endpoint and in isolation the goal is not actionable. For example wanting to ‘reach 100M in annual revenue’ is a business goal – it doesn’t tell internal teams anything about what they need to achieve.

Subgoals on the other hand are measurable. To create measurable goals, leadership can change the language surrounding the goal with a focus on what needs to happen.  For example:

  • “We would have to sign X clients in Y market and A clients in B market”
  • “We would have to partner with…”
  • “The business needs to go from $x to $y”
  • “We need to improve our product or service by…”

The business goal: ‘reach $100M in annual revenue …’ might be refined into various subgoals:

  • “We would have to go from $5M to $10M annual revenue by Q2”
  • “Our products/service needs to be attractive to clients like…”
  • “We need to influence product completion and quality initiative”

Subgoals can be separated into goals that marketing can influence from those they can’t. In this example, marketing cannot influence product completion and quality initiatives, but it can influence increased revenue and attracting a new market.

Marketing goals must serve as a directive of how marketing can influence these business objectives.

Turning subgoals into marketing goals

In order to create marketing goals from subgoals internal teams need to collaborate. Generally, CEOs and company leadership can step away from the process, leaving CMOs or strategic planners to work with internal teams to establish what needs to happen in order to achieve the high-level business goals.

The marketing goals will be specific, measurable and attainable

So, a refined business goal like ‘go from $5M to $10M in Annual Revenue by Q2’ needs to be translated to a marketing goal. This might look like:

  • The sales team needs 10 – 12 new $100k customers per quarter, beginning immediately.
  • In order to convert 10-12 new 100k customers, the sales team needs X leads.

Or ‘we need to attract clients like…’ becomes:

  • We need to secure media coverage in X and Y magazine to increase awareness
  • Marketing teams need to create a new prospect pipeline
  • We need to demonstrate that we are experts in…

Once the marketing goals have been established, a marketing strategy can be curated — this is the second part of the strategic planning process.

Strategic planning next steps

For the last 12 years, Channel V Media has been working with startups, fortune 500, and international newcomers to introduce the strategic layer that is often missing between company leadership and marketing.

The next steps include:

  • Going from marketing goals to marketing strategy – read our five tips to creating marketing strategy
  • Going from marketing strategy to a marketing plan
  • Introducing goals at the team and individual levels
  • Developing a method for tracking success and accountability

If you think your business is missing the strategic layer between leadership and marketing, get in touch by using the live chat on our website or send a contact form.

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