How to align marketing strategy with corporate goals

Beware of this costly widespread marketing shortcut

It’s shocking how many companies don’t link marketing with corporate direction. Establishing a few straightforward priorities is one of the easiest and best ways to ensure marketing dollars are wisely spent.

Despite the unsurprising benefits of alignment, many companies—including those with full marketing departments—forego this work in favour of jumping into tactical execution like sending out an email or coordinating a tradeshow presence. Some plan by way of creating a tactical plan for the year and starting from there.

If your company is taking this shortcut, consider this: a relatively quick and simple exercise defining marketing objectives and goals, the target customer and a product focus will quickly focus the effort, and generate better results for the same money. Even stopping here (well short of a marketing strategy), will garner better results.

1/ Establish 2 or 3 marketing objectives

Knowing why your company is investing in marketing will influence which tactics are employed, and also which prospects or customers should be the focus of marketing campaigns. Here are examples of typical B2B marketing objectives:

  1. Brand awareness

  2. Customer acquisition

  3. Lead generation

  4. Thought leadership

  5. Increase product awareness

  6. Lead nurturing

  7. Reputation management

Of these, brand awareness and customer acquisition are the most commonly cited marketing objectives for B2B companies. However, some industries within the B2B space have different objectives. While you could probably select all of them as marketing objectives, take a stakeholder vote and focus on the top one, two or three objectives.

2/ Set measurable goals

Having some quantified metrics to strive for is important for planning this year and forecasting in future. Even if you have to take a wild guess at the number for the first year, do so because it is important for the business planning process.

Remember, goals should be “SMART”; that is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time sensitive. They should also align with the established marketing objectives. For instance, if the objective is to grow new business, then the goal may be to increase revenue from new business deals by 25% this year. Here are examples of marketing goals:

  1. % increase in sales from past customers

  2. # new clients from a specific geographic region

  3. # sales-qualified leads for a new product

  4. % increase in overall client engagement

While many goals relate to stages in the marketing/sales funnel, there are endless ways to measure success, so don’t feel confined to commonplace measures.

3/ Select a target market

Everyone has heard the stats on how many messages we’re bombarded with daily and how much time advertisers have to catch a buyer’s attention. And everyone concedes that getting noticed is challenging, so getting noticed when you have a limited budget to make a splash with can seem like mission impossible.

Enter, target markets.

While the term “target market” will not be new anyone in your company, actually getting them on board with an activity to focus the entire marketing effort on one or two groups of buyers may be a challenging process. It is, however, imperative. The more you can direct the marketing effort at a specific group of people you want to reach, the less money will be wasted reaching out to everyone else.

These are some ways to segment buyers:

  • Geography

  • Business type

  • Business size

  • Business maturity

  • Deal size

Once you have determined who the target buyer is, consider creating profiles of your buyer(s) to gain an even deeper understanding of whom marketing messaging, branding and tactics needs to resonate with.

4/ Prioritize the offering

For companies with multiple service or product offerings, a simple prioritization exercise will give structure to the marketing spend. Is there a new product that marketing needs to put most of its effort behind this year? Perhaps a new competitor is cause for concern and marketing needs to retain market share. Defining how the marketing resources (time and money) should be prioritized increases the likelihood that impact will be made where it is most needed.

With the right people in a room, and a little planning ahead of time, these four activities can be completed in an hour or two. (Helpful hint: treats on the table will make your participants happier!)

Knowing the overall marketing objectives, goals, target marketing and internal priorities will give your marketing team—and departments who work with marketing—context and direction on which to base the tactical plans. The notion that adding some strategy and structure to marketing may seem daunting, but it can be as simple as establishing four metrics. And why not when it improves your results?