The statement of marketing objectives is the core of the plan. The remainder, important as it may be, is merely a program for achieving these objectives. At this point the sequential relationship of the various steps of the plan becomes apparent. The analysis of the acts discloses problems and opportunities: the objectives represent the desired solution to the problem and the exploitation of the opportunities.
At this stage clear and concise decisions should be taken as to what the marketing effort behind a product design and packaging, pricing, distribution, advertising and sales promotion is intended to accomplish. The emphasis will be on aims rather than on ways and means. The need for making a clear distinction between aims and methods objectives and strategies is evident it is not really possible to agree on a plan of action before the purpose of exercise has been established.
It is useful in practice to separate the long term and short term marketing objectives. A long term objective is a broad aim, a desired end result which need not be quantified and related to a time period. Thus, market dominance or an increase in sales and profits are long term objectives. In contrast, short term objectives need to be both quantified and made specific as to time. ‘Increase sales by 15% in 1998’ is a short term objective.
Further more there should be clear distinction between general marketing objectives, on the one hand, and specific objectives for advertising, products design and packaging distribution and sales etc., on the other. This distinction is critical for a number of reasons: first each marketing instruments such as sales, advertising, product design etc., has a definite place and function within the total marketing mix, and it can accomplish certain things that the other instruments cannot. Second, without specific objectives and measurable tasks for each of them, it will not be possible to tell whether the increase or decrease in sales is attributable to advertising to product improvements, to better selling effort or to price changes.
To ensure that the results achieved can be measured and attributed to whichever element of the marketing mix produced them, or failed to produce them, these specific objectives need to be stated in short term language i.e. specific in time and degree. Thus, a proper advertising objective would be to increase consumer awareness of the product from 25% to 40% rather than to communicate the idea that the product tastes better than its competitors.
There are few ground rules for establishing marketing objectives particularly short term objectives:
1. Be Realistic: Little will be gained by setting the aims so high that their achievement is virtually impossible within the time period covered by the plan and with the means available.
2. Remember Your Priorities: The evaluation stage of the plan has shown in which areas action is most needed of will yield the best results. These areas of priority must be taken into account when objectives are being defined.
3. Be specific: Objectives should be specific, not general. They should provide clear cut targets so that the success of the program can be measured factually and quantitatively through a comparison of aims and performance.
4. Seek End Results: As far as possible, the objectives should be stated in terms of end results not intermediate results. An increase in the number of readers or listeners of advertising messages is desirable, but only as an intermediate objective. What is important is the number of consumers who are persuaded by the messages. The aim is to strengthen the sale of the organization is intermediate in the sense that the final aim is to widen distribution to get new outlets and thereby put the goods in front of more consumers at more points of sales than before.