Your team needs to know what you are working toward. Creating marketing tasks just to see what happens is only good if you are a researcher and statistician fascinated by the human response to marketing messages or if you are a gazillionaire and like to waste money. Assuming neither of these is true, let’s set some real goals.
To create goals, it is critical to start with where you are now. Next, you need to establish what goals are important. Are you working toward increased impact in your nonprofit? Perhaps a better bottom line means bonuses? Does your team believe in your product so much that increasing sales and knowing that others are experiencing the joy of your product inspires them? Help the team understand how reaching these goals will make positive differences for the organization and its customers.
Each item that you are creating marketing plans for will need its own goals. How you do this is mostly up to you, but make sure your goals are SMART! SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound.
Let’s talk for a minute about the difference between goals that are worth counting and those that aren’t. Goal-based metrics are the measure of things that relate directly to our goals. Vanity metrics are the measure of things that can affect future sales but are not yet there. This includes things such as “like” on social media, number of people who sign up for your lead generator on your website, etc. Vanity metrics aren’t bad, but they aren’t as good as metrics that relate to actual goals. If your goal is growing sales by 200%, a Facebook “like” isn’t as helpful a measure as an actual sale. While increased engagement can eventually lead to increased sales, it is important to acknowledge the difference and make sure your goals are measuring the right things.
As leaders, when we are focused on the wrong goals, we are using valuable resources in ways that aren’t going to affect the bottom line. If your goal is to increase online engagement by 100%, you are investing in brand awareness. If you are a larger company, this might be a worthwhile activity, but for most nonprofits and small businesses, your resources need to be much more focused. The activities that support reaching those goals will likely increase your brand awareness and your online engagement, but that isn’t the point. The point is the actual, real-life, fully-realized, honest-to-goodness SALE. It is okay to include vanity metrics in your goals, but make sure they aren’t the focus. The ultimate goals are the ones that affect bottom-line, mission and impact.
Options for goals
• Number-based measure
• $# or % of growth
• Reaching the budget line
• # or % of new customers
• # or % of retained customers
• $value of growing individual customer sales
• Customers love your product – # of customer reviews online
• Increased positive social media engagement
• Increased attendance at events
Strategies for Growth
Consider what it will take to obtain growth. Brian Tracy, in his book Marketing, defines the following five strategies for growth.
1. Sell more of your existing products by
a. Modifying them
b. Advertising more
e. Expanding your distribution channels
f. Lowering your price
2. Sell new products or services to your current audiences
3. Sell your existing products to new audiences
4. Develop new products for your current audiences
5. Find complementary products produced by other companies and cross-market.
Let’s look at these options in the case of Beach Love Bag Company. Beach Love Bag Company (BLBC) sells bags made for outdoor use — functional, easy to clean, water and sun proof, eco-friendly.
In 2018, BLBC sold:
|Product||Units Sold||Gross Value of Sales|
|Sun & Sand Bag||819||$32,760|
|Sweat & Sun Bag||220||$6,600|
|Family Fun Bag||3283||$282,338|
In 2019, BLBC wants to increase gross revenue by 40% (2019 Gross Revenue Goal: $450,377). They are going to use Brian Tracy’s strategy #1 and #5 to increase their sales.
To reach their goal, they have decided to focus on their top two selling bags and eliminate the third from production. By doing this, they can spend more of their marketing budget on reaching families and beach-goers specifically. Both are audiences where they have better leverage. Plus, their audience profile worksheets show that they have a better understanding and access to these groups.
In addition to their increased focus in these audiences, they are packaging the two items along with a beach blanket produced by a fantastic company that markets to the same audiences. While the addition of this product doesn’t increase the dollars they receive from each sale, it does expand its reach.
|Products||Goal: Units Sold||Goal: Gross Value of Sales|
|Sun & Sand Bag||1385||$55,400|
|Family Fun Bag||4600||$395,600|
In big companies, it is the marketing department’s job to know the audience and get them in the door. It’s the customer service department’s job to take care of them after that.
This all works because most of the time, these large companies are creating commodities. You do NOT want to create a commodity. Commodities are interchangeable with other brands and products. Commodities are the things you buy because you need them or because it’s a habit, not because you are passionate about the brand or how the product solves a problem for you. Think about your toilet paper. Do you buy the same brand all the time or do you buy what’s on sale? If you buy a specific brand because you like its features or its price, it is more than a commodity. If you buy what is on sale because toilet paper is just toilet paper, it is a commodity.
Your brand and your product/service is better than a basic commodity. You want and need to be a part of your customers’ lives in a unique way. You need these people to be passionate about your brand and what you offer. In order for this to happen, you must know your customer well.
Let’s use a nonprofit fundraising department as an example. Sure, it is the primary responsibility of the development officers to know the organization’s donors. They need to be able to describe, in general terms, the demographics of the donors – the age, geography, likes, dislikes, and desires of the donors. It is also important to know their names. In fundraising, it isn’t enough to just make the sale, it is all about relationships. And, knowing these people – in general and specifically, can’t just stop with the fundraising professionals. The program department, marketing department and administration all need to know these individuals. When those relationships are deeper than surface level, the gifts get larger. When the gifts get larger, the impact of the organization grows. Isn’t that the ultimate goal?
Now, take the same principles and apply them to small business. The customers who are buying from your retail boutique are no less important than those donors who are giving to the nonprofit. You need to know them. You need to have relationships with them. When that happens, they buy more; they tell others about you; and they keep coming back.
There is a big difference between marketing that only pushes information out to people and that which creates relationships with people.
Who are Your Audiences?
To whom are you selling your product? If your answer is “everyone,” I want you to imagine a giant gong descending from the sky and levitating six inches above your head. With one giant swing of the mallet, the deep reverberating sound rattles your brain. The trauma your brain experiences has made you forget you ever said that. Move on quickly.
Like your goals, your audiences should be specific. The more specific your audience is, the stronger your messaging and avenues to reach them will be. Once you know who your people are, I want you to grow an obsession with knowing them. I want you to dig so deep you can see the inside of their brains.
The very best marketing is that which places the customer before yourself. It says that this product was created to solve the customer’s problem, not to make money for your business. It starts first with the customer’s needs and follows with your business’s needs. This customer-centered approach is the difference between companies that have raging fans and companies who are just a commodity. Being extraordinary to your audience requires that you know them intimately.
When I moved to Minnesota from Nebraska nine years ago, I was tempted to run straight back to Huskerland when I realized that my local Target didn’t sell wine. What in the name of all things holy kind of a state is this? At the time I had two small children, and the idea of taking them into a liquor store bothered me. On day two of living in this state-from-hell, I asked the only person I knew, my daycare provider, what to do about this. After an introduction to several other moms at the daycare, I made some friends and quickly learned that the liquor stores in this area had created their unique way to sell to moms for the exact reason I was anxious about. You see, I imagined the riff-raff of my small home-town liquor store and I didn’t want to expose my children to that. In my mind, being the innovator that I am, I was already creating my own brand of hooch for my new gaggle of girlfriends, so we wouldn’t have to tell our children that the only place mommy can buy a bottle of Apothic Red is where the scary man lives. Thank goodness for the owner of Kids Count Daycare who quickly took these awful, unkind, judgmental thoughts from my mind and reassured me that because Minnesota can’t sell full-powered alcohol in regular stores, they have a much stronger variety of liquor stores made for the masses. Heck – they’ve even adopted the practice of the bank drive through and give the little ones a sucker at the check-out.
As I finally braved this new adventure (20 minutes later because, let’s be real – I had just made a significant move with two small children, over Christmas and it was freaking snowing again), I discovered a whole new experience than my previous liquor store excursions. First, the store was beautifully lit and clean. It was organized, and there was a little counter where they had space to offer tastings of their featured wines. The carts were kid-friendly, the employees were knowledgeable, and the variety was so extensive! Forget Target. I just found my new escape!
When you know your audience well, you can more easily determine the right ways to reach them. You know their worries, their unique needs, how to make the sales experience better and who are the best people to support them. I am a raging fan of my local liquor store. Not because I am a raging drinker (I swear) but because of how they acknowledge my needs by providing conveniences without even having to ask. Moreover, because they know me – the mom. They have created such a strong experience, that their raging fans refer others.
The more you know your audience, the better you can serve them and create an experience customized for them.
How Many Audiences?
Identifying our target audiences is so important. In small businesses and nonprofits, too often we do the marketing spray. We send our message out into the world with a firehose and hope that a drop of water lands on everyone. The problem with this approach is that a drop isn’t enough. It takes 7-15 points of contact for a new customer to engage with your brand. And, that is if it’s specifically for them and exceptional marketing! The firehose approach doesn’t work, and it’s a waste of time and resources.
Consider this. If you have $100 and you spend $10 on ten different audiences sharing your general brand message, what kind of return do you think you’ll get? I truly hope you understand that you will get very little. In fact, you’ll likely get a big fat nothing! However, if you spend that $100 on one audience, your return will increase. How much? It depends on how warm the audience was to start. If they are brand new, perhaps you’ll get a sale or two. If they were in the pipeline already and just needed attention, your return will be higher.
How many audiences you choose is up to you, but when you pick an audience, you must commit to doing the marketing it takes to be effective. Do you have the resources to reach each audience 7-15 times? Do you have the money to invest in marketing tools? If you can’t do this well, don’t do it. Perhaps your best work and biggest return will be in choosing your top 1-3 audiences and spending the next 12 months doing an incredible job marketing to them. With that return and gained experience, you can add another audience or two next year.