Three simple steps to writing better objectives.
We all know the importance of setting clear objectives at the outset of a campaign. Objectives help crystallize the challenge in front of us and ensure anyone who gets involved along the way shares the same vision of success. Yet, how many times have we plowed ahead without clearly defined objectives?
In a recent conversation about a new campaign that just launched, I was shocked when the ag marketer mentioned they still needed to finalize objectives. When I asked why they hadn’t done so earlier, I heard many of the same excuses we have heard or likely said at one point or another:
“We were just moving too fast to hit deadlines and had to be in market this season.”
“In this space, our budget is too tight for luxuries like research. Those dollars need to be in market for the campaign delivery.”
“Our space is so niche, there no way to measure anything meaningful.”
Not enough time, not enough budget and too specialized are reasons FOR establishing up-front objectives, not excuses against. These scenarios demand maximum efficiency and up-front planning to capture success. Many times, we as marketers are eager to “get to the work.” Writing objectives can feel a little like eating our vegetables or doing our homework. But writing good objectives doesn’t need to be a long, arduous task. Here are three, simple, guiding principles to keep in mind.
- Clearly Defined Audience
Who will your campaign target? Be as specific as possible. Sure, you may be eager to sell your brand to every dairy farmer in the U.S., but who is your most critical target? Is it a dairy farmer in the northeast with 100-150 milking cows? Maybe your key target is younger, female dairy operators. Being specific doesn’t mean you plan to ignore all other dairy farmers or refuse to sell to them. It means you will approach the market with clear focus to help ensure success with those that matter most to your brand.
- Detailed Metric
These can range from brand awareness levels to market share to brand loyalty levels. There is no wrong answer. As long as you are clear on the change of value and sources of measurement. Increasing unaided awareness may be the single most important objective for your new brand, but be specific here, too. For example, “Increase unaided awareness from 18 percent to 21 percent (DMI Brand Study).”
- Time Bound
The final element is a specific start and stop. Your metric source may be a pre- and post-campaign survey, so specifically state your start and stop points for the research. “Increase message recall by 7 percent based on a pre-campaign survey in July 2016 and a post-campaign survey in March 2017.” Or you can base your metrics around two annual studies, but call out the timing of the studies. Keep in mind where your campaign falls relative to when the research is done, because it will influence the metrics you see if your campaign is not complete or if there is a gap after your campaign and before the research.
Easy as 1, 2, 3
Those are the three basic ingredients for a successful objective: specific audience, specific metric/source and a specific timeframe. Typically, the most successful campaigns have one or two simple objectives.
My father used to say, “You can only manage what you can measure.” As ag marketers, we owe it to our brands, and ourselves, to ensure we measure and manage our way to a successful future.
So the next time you begin to plan a campaign, don’t settle for “increasing awareness.” Instead, “Increase unaided awareness from 22 percent to 27 percent (DMI Brand Study, 2016 vs. 2017) among female dairy farmers under the age of 35 in the northeastern United States by August 2017.”