Any company that has some self-respect has one or more business and sales objectives. We want to sell x% more than last year, we want to increase our market share, we want to sell a specific number of products – these are in the same time business and sales objectives. They are connected to the business development and determine a set of figures to be reached in this direction.
Most of the companies do not systematically work to translating these sales objectives into marketing objectives and jump directly to communication tactics, which can be confusing and frustrating to those executing these tactics, due to the difficulty to directly corelate the communication activity with the sales. Except for specific promotions, discounts, vouchers or other such extremely tactical campaigns, it is quite difficult to measure the impact of communication on the sales registered and this is exactly why some businesspeople less initiated in marketing consider any other campaigns besides promotional ones a waste of money, costs that they cannot recover.
The thing that is missing from the situation above is the marketing strategy itself, the one that answers to the following questions:
- Where from do we want to get the sales increase, new clients or old clients?
- Which are the reasons (called also barriers) for which some prospects do not buy our products and what can we do to fix them?
This analysis of the prospect’s “journey” towards buying the products and services that we sell is the one that will provide the answers to the questions above. In order to buy, any prospect goes through several phases in his/her relation to the brand or product and their identification or the identification of the point in which a prospect is “stuck” can help us remove the barrier. It is necessary to ask the following questions to which we should provide, as much as possible, measured data:
- How many consumers have heard of our brand?
- How many of them know what we sell?
- How many of them are interested? And if they are not, why aren’t they? Is it possible for them to have some wrong perceptions that we should influence?
- How many of them are interested but face some other barriers to contact us and buy our products? How would these barriers look like and what can we do to remove them?
- Which is the average frequency and value of the current clients’ transactions? What can we do to increase these indicators?
Any of these areas can become the subject of our focus in the future and, consequently, the marketing objective.
For instance, if we have a newly launched, unknown product, the first and most important marketing objective is to increase awareness, i.e. to get it to be known. Until we go to counting sales, all the other steps must be taken.
Another situation is when a brand is known but the people do not know exactly what it sells or they are not interested because maybe they have a deviated perception that it does not sell what they need or that the products do not fit their needs. In such a case, our focus moves from building notoriety to increasing interest and possibly changing perceptions.
If for increasing notoriety the main communication tactics are to ensure a considerable exposure (to let as many people as possible find out, to get some reach), for increasing interest the tactics are totally different and it is about fine communication, on nuances and final benefits to which consumers do pay attention; the fine analysis of their behaviors and perceptions help a lot to define a set of messages to influence them, which can start changing their opinion about the brand and the respective products.
So, first time you hear somebody talking about increasing sales by 10% as a marketing objective, ask him/her the question: where do you want this growth to come from? Where are the barriers that need to be removed? Are they awareness barriers, perception barriers or other?
Morals: no sales objective can be reached unless it is accompanied by clear marketing objectives