Starting a new role as a marketing manager can be challenging.
You want to take charge of your team with gusto, set targets and objectives that are achievable, all while inspiring your people into action that drives huge growth and results for the business.
How do you do that and make the most of your role? How do you prove that you’re an effective marketing manager?
There are three steps to setting marketing objectives for your team that will set you up to succeed as a results-driven leader:
- Determine your starting point through audits and analysis.
- Hold a strategy planning day* and empower your team to set their own objectives that drive growth for the business.
- Clearly communicate your team’s marketing objectives and set quarterly benchmarks to make sure you’re staying on track.
* Why a strategy planning day?
A strategy planning day allows you to harness your team’s creativity and knowledge to your advantage and set achievable objectives that your team feels ownership of (because they helped create them).
Step 1 – what’s your starting point?
Before you work out where you want to take your team, you need to know where things stand right now.
A marketing audit will help you identify how well your team is currently performing and where growth is needed.
It’s helpful to undertake your audit while referring to the business' business plan as many items will be relevant.
Some things to cover are the SWOT and PESTEL analysis, internal and external audit, and a competitor and buyer persona analysis.
Perform an internal audit
An internal marketing audit includes looking at:
- Your resources, including budget, people, social media management tools, and other software.
- Current promotional materials.
- Performance data of past campaigns.
- Client relationship management database use and approach.
Performing an internal audit first will help you get a picture of where your team and the business is at. If your business uses Sendible, you'll be able to see all of your and your client's social media engagement data in one report.
Perform a SWOT analysis
The purpose of a SWOT analysis is to identify within the business, and within the team:
- Strengths to be strategically capitalized on.
- Weaknesses to be compensated for or eliminated.
- Opportunities to go after.
- Threats to mitigate.
A SWOT analysis helps to guide what objectives are appropriate for your team.
Perform an external audit including a PESTEL analysis
An external audit identifies factors outside of your control that could impact on the business. The PESTEL analysis tool is helpful to use to identify external factors.
PESTEL stands for:
- Political Factors
- Economic Factors
- Social Factors
- Technological Factors
- Environmental Factors
- Legal Factors
A PESTEL analysis will increase your awareness of potential issues that could disrupt your objectives.
Perform a competitor analysis
When doing a competitive analysis, Jeff Haden of Inc.com recommends asking these questions:
- What are your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses?
- What are their objectives?
- What marketing strategies do they use?
- How can you take market share from them?
- How will they respond to competition from your business?
Knowing who your competitors are is essential to understanding the business’s position in the market.
Perform a buyer persona analysis
As marketing manager it’s critical to know, as Ardath Albee pointed out at the Intelligent Content Conference in her talk, How to Develop Audience Personas That You’ll Actually Use:
“Who the heck are we going to talk to? Why will they care? What are we going to say that’s relevant to them?”
Knowing the essential parts of a buyer persona will help you determine whether ideas and objectives are relevant and suitable for the business.
Step 2 – set the right marketing objectives, leveraging your team's talents
Your team can help you with the details of their marketing objectives, but what about the high-level, overarching objectives that the business is striving for?
Common marketing objectives tend to include:
- Raising brand awareness.
- Improving retention.
- Improving activation.
- Driving sales.
- Increasing email list subscribers.
It's important to know which of these objectives your team is working toward. You'll then be able to leverage their abilities with a successful strategy planning day to plot out the specifics and turn these high-level objectives into quantifiable goals.
Having a strategy planning day serves several purposes:
- It employs the team’s knowledge, experience, and creativity to your advantage.
- It empowers the team to feel ownership of their goals and objectives, because they set them.
- It cements your position as a leader who values their team’s ideas and input.
How to organize a strategy planning day
It’s difficult to work on strategy and objectives without having separation from day-to-day tasks.
Organizing a strategy planning day in an off-site location will set the scene for creative thinking and help your team to focus.
Some key points to host an effective strategy planning day:
- Limit the number of participants – if you have a large team, you might need to be selective about the number of participants at your planning day. A smaller group will be able to cover more ground with everyone having input than a larger group.
- Set expectations and create conditions that foster creativity – the purpose of having an offsite strategy planning day is to get your team creatively involved and working together with purpose. Consider making the day ‘casual dress’ and including brief activities during the proceeding to remove your team from ‘office standard’ culture.
- Keep information-dumps brief and let ideas, strategy, and decision-making take center stage – focus on ideas, strategy, tactics, decision-making, and creative thinking to get the most out of your strategy planning day. If there’s required reading, make sure you set it as homework to be done before the day!
- Ask the hard questions to break your team out of their usual ways of thinking – always ask why? How? And, what if? There are no wrong answers, only avenues of thought and opportunities to explore.
- Managing the group dynamic – in any group, there will be dominant personalities. Your role as the leader is to draw out responses from all members of the group and foster an environment where all ideas and responses are valued regardless of the personality or seniority of the person making them.
By the end of the strategy planning day, you can then take the next step and assign ownership of tasks and projects to members of your team.
Step 3 – clearly set, benchmark, and communicate your team’s marketing objectives
The next step in the process is to:
- Review your team’s objectives and make sure that there are quantifiable goals for each project.
- Create quarterly benchmarks to measure if your team is on target.
- Communicate your team’s marketing objectives clearly to your team and your organization.
How to use the OKR framework for your objectives
Though the SMART process is often used for goals, an effective alternative is a system Google uses: the OKR framework.
The components of OKR are simple:
- Objective - an objective should be short, memorable, and inspiring for your team.
- Key Results - these are the metrics that you'll use to determine whether you've achieved your objective.
The formula for writing an OKR goal is also simple:
I will (objective) as measured by (this set of results).
Here is an example of a marketing objective expressed with the OKR system:
Objective: Inspire action through video.
- Increase email list subscribers to X.
- Drive X marketing qualified leads (MQLs) from X planned webinars.
Stating your team’s marketing objectives in these terms provides powerful inspiration and leaves no room for confusion because the metrics are clearly defined.
Set quarterly benchmarks to track your team’s progress
If you’ve set yearly objectives for your team, benchmarking your year into quarters will help you track progress to make sure your team is on target.
Your team’s results will likely improve over time, so consider setting your benchmark metrics lower in the first quarter and increase it with each quarter.
How to communicate your team’s objectives
It’s essential that your entire team understands the objectives they are working towards and how their day-to-day tasks drive the success of the business.
You're also responsible for communicating and reporting on your team's objectives to the CEO or Head of Marketing, including progress on your team's projects against the benchmarks you've set for them. It's also important that other team leads are aware of and understand the objectives your team is working towards to get their buy-in and support for your team's efforts.
- Communicate objectives in individual performance reviews – relate individual performance KPIs back to the team’s objectives when meeting individually with team members.
- Make team objectives the framework for regular team meetings – keep objectives front and center by structuring meeting agendas to include progress updates for projects under each objective.
- Include regular updates on objectives in a team newsletter – this helps keep objectives top of mind.
- Include regular updates on objectives in meetings with the CEO/Head of Marketing and with the leadership team - keep the leadership team updated on the progress of your team's objectives.
- Run team building events and activities – these activities improve team morale and build closer working relationships. You can also use the team’s objectives within the events and activities to keep your team motivated towards achieving them.
Creating an environment where the team’s marketing objectives are continually reinforced helps infuse your team culture with a drive for achievement.
Stepping into a new role as marketing manager is a challenging and rewarding time. You need a clear game plan for success that will establish your leadership as you set marketing objectives for your team.
An audit of the current state of the business and your team’s activities will give you a baseline to work from when guiding your team’s objectives through a strategic planning day.
During the planning day, you’ll use your team’s creativity to overcome obstacles, team build, and create a sense of ownership and responsibility for the success of the business.
After the planning day, you’ll have clear marketing objectives for your team, ready for you to set benchmarks and communicate progress and results regularly.
Have you found it challenging to set marketing objectives for your team? Let us know in the comments!