Strategy and Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • Define strategy, tactics, and objectives
  • Describe how to align mission, strategy, and objectives
  • Explain the role of marketing strategy in corporate strategy

The Need for Objectives

Photo of a child climbing a brightly colored brick wall.As we discussed before, a business strategy must take into account the changing environment and identify a plan that will use the company’s resources most effectively to achieve its mission and goals. Businesses define and and communicate their goals using objectives.

Objectives specify measurable outcomes that will be achieved within a particular time frame. Objectives help individuals across the team to understand the goals and to determine whether the strategy is effective and the tactics are being well executed. Objectives are used to align expectations and plans, to coordinate efforts, to measure progress, and to hold teams accountable for achieving results.

Companies often have long-term strategies but create objectives based on a quarterly or annual plan. Clear, measurable objectives enable the company to track progress and adjust tactics (and, sometimes, strategies) to improve the chance of success.

Creating Effective Objectives

In general, effective objectives meet the following criteria:

  • They are specific. They identify what must be accomplished in language that is clear and easy for the whole company to understand.
  • They are measurable. They help managers ascertain whether the objectives have been achieved in very concrete terms.
  • They have a time frame. The objectives specify when they are to be met so that others can count on the results being available at a certain time.

Below are some examples of good objectives:

  • Implement a new customer loyalty plan in 2016
  • Increase market share for the product by 2 percent during 2015
  • Execute marketing campaigns that result in 2,000 qualified leads for a new product by June 1

Using Objectives to Align Company Activities

Companies do not have a single strategy. At any time they are executing a range of different strategies. A company might simultaneously execute on strategies to enter a new market, grow market share in an existing market, and improve organizational efficiency. Moreover, strategy at the corporate level will guide the development of strategies for each function, including marketing. Remember, a business strategy must identify a plan that will use the company’s resources most effectively to achieve its mission and goals. Likewise, the marketing strategy must identify a plan that will use the marketing function’s resources and expertise most effectively to achieve its mission and goals.

We will discuss the process for developing and executing the marketing strategy further, but first let’s focus on the alignment of the marketing strategy. How can the marketing function make sure that its strategy and tactics support the corporate-level objectives? How does it know if it is on track to achieve results? During the marketing planning process, the organization creates its own marketing objectives that support the company objectives. These marketing objectives must also specify measurable outcomes that will be achieved within a particular time frame.

Let’s take a look at some examples of typical corporate and marketing objectives. At the corporate level, objectives include profitability, cost savings, growth, market-share improvement, risk containment, reputation, and so on. All of these corporate objectives can imply specific marketing objectives. Below are two common corporate-level objectives and the marketing objectives that would support them effectively.

Annual Objectives

Company Objective: Increase profitability by 6% over prior year
Marketing Objective Increase the average selling price of the product from $186 to $198
Marketing Objective Complete end-of-life process for three products with profit margins below 3%
Marketing Objective Increase sales of star product by 30% over prior year
Company Objective: Increase market share in one key market by 4%
Marketing Objective Implement a competitive-positioning campaign relative to a key competitor
Marketing Objective Introduce two new products to market
Marketing Objective Introduce major enhancements in two product lines
Marketing Objective Bring two new distribution partners on board to expand coverage to new major markets

As you can see, if the marketing organization achieves its objective to introduce new products to market, then it will support the company objective to grow market share. If the marketing organization does not introduce new products, then the other objectives will need to be adjusted or the company is unlikely to show the market share growth that is part of its strategy.

Check Your Understanding

Answer the question(s) below to see how well you understand the topics covered in this and the previous sections. This short quiz does not count toward your grade in the class, and you can retake it an unlimited number of times.

Use this quiz to check your understanding and decide whether to (1) study the previous section further or (2) move on to the next section.