A 2012 Marketing Plan – Understanding Goals and Objectives

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Yesterday we looked at the importance of a SWOT Analysis to your 2012 marketing plan. So far, so good, but now our terminology becomes more complicated.  The terms Objectives and Goals are both important in building a marketing plan, but differing experts and schools use these terms in varied ways.  Some use them interchangably, while others reverse their meaning from the way I will use them here.  For the sake of clarity, let’s define each.

For our purposes, the term “Goal” refers to an achievable aspect of the mission statement. The goal describes a desired outcome. Thus, a  goal for ABC Travel might be to “increase the number of clients with which the company works.” Another  goal may be to “achieve the highest level of client satisfaction.” Goals can refer to revenue, “To increase profitability” and to expenses “Trim unneccessary expenditures.”  Typically, the company will have no more than a few high-level goals.  At this juncture, don’t include specific actions, (we will later call such actions “Tactics”) which might help achieve your goals.  For example, you might list “Improve client communications” as a Goal, but don’t list “Start a Newsletter” which is more of a specific tactic.

By themselves, however,  goals are not measurable and most often do not have a time period associated with them. For that, we turn to objectives, which brings a quantitative reality to an goal. Thus, an objective which corresponds to the first goal may be “to acquire 75 new clients in 2012.” Note that through this objective you have quantified the goal and placed it on a timeline. The lofty goal of achieving the highest client satisfaction may appear to be more difficult to measure. However, client satisfaction can be measured in repeat business, client testimonials, referrals or surveys and feedback provided after travel.

Certainly the very act of setting objectives and goals has merit. What really puts a goal into high gear, however, is writing it down. A travel agent who can objectify and articulate their goals is more likely to achieve them. Yet, the truth is that very few travel agents work from a written marketing plan or set of goals. More often, we “wing it”! What might we achieve if we were more disciplined in our approach? It is one measure of how much potential the travel industry has that so many can earn a living without the need to follow so basic a rule. If you will take the time to write down your goals, it is almost a guarantee that you will achieve more. Writing your goals down gives them substance, orienting, clarifying and programming your mind in relationship to everything around you.

In setting your goals and objectives, use the SMART system:

  • Specificity
  • Measurability
  • Attainability
  • Reward
  • Timeframe

Specificity means that you know what you want to achieve and how you are going to do it.  Setting a goal such as “increase the number of clients I work with” is a great goal. However, when you indicate that you are going to acquire 75 new clients this year, then your goal has much more substance. When you then begin to work through the strategies and tactics you will use to actually successfully work through the full buying cycle with 75 new clients, then you have a much more specific, and therefore achievable, goal.

Measurable means that you can monitor your progress with a clear end result. Break your goal and objectives up into measurable increments and track your steps along the way. Make adjustments as you need to insure that you are on the right path to hitting your targets. If you cannot measure any objective, you will almost certainly lose sight of it along the way.  In each instance, find a way to measure your goals and objectives.

Attainable – your goals and objectives have to be realistic. It should be a stretch, no goal should be set too low. But make your goal something that with a lot of hard work and perseverance, you can attain.

Reward – This is your motivation for the entire effort. Perhaps it is as simple as more income. If so, be specific. How much more income? Perhaps it is the satisfaction of knowing you can set a goal and keep it.

Timeframe – When are you going to be the world’s greatest travel consultant? Someday? Be specific. Use a calendar to make your goals real.

We will introduce you to your marketing calendar next week! Remember, we will continue to revisit and re-work aspects of your marketing plan for the next three weeks, so don’t worry if some aspects seem ill-defined right now.  Together, we will put it all together before the Holidays!

Now, download our Goals and Objectives Worksheet and begin crafting your 2012 goals!

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