To help visualise the problem of creating marketing strategies and their associated goals, we will make use of an analogy. Imagine yourselves being the captain of a warship. Your purpose? To create a plan and strategy as you go along to lead your convoy to safety. 

If you haven’t already seen it, check out the video that discusses this process here:

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You begin with no specific plan of action which in the context of marketing is referring to your annual strategy. There are four main choices, as represented by the sonar screen in the cockpit of your ship.

You may continue forward to follow the strategy that you have been using previously. You may turn left or right to try new approaches that weren’t attempted before. Or you may also go backwards, to go back to a previous strategy or to revert changes.

Which Way Should You Go to Build a Strategy?

Several factors influence this decision:

  • Consider past influences, such as uncertainty, performance, particular events or overall trends – It is crucial to understand what worked before and what didn’t. For example, what the key area (ie. the biggest blocker) was to you achieving your annual goals in the previous year.
  • Understand current resource availability – do you have the capacity to fix those past problems with your available resources today? If not, hiring key people (or replacing underperformers) may be a way to fix the issue. Perhaps the reason for missing the target was a poor understanding of the market you’re selling to, in which case more market research may be necessary. Conduct research as it will provide important information to aid your decision making when setting your goals.
  • Layer in future influences (expectations of the market, the business or your finances for example) to better understand what is on the horizon. 

The Research and Goal Setting Process

Through research you discover obstacles which you need to manoeuvre around. During this goal setting process you also begin to identify your milestones. It’s uncertain how far away these milestones are right now, and indeed what connects them or how to get to them. In the analogy that is being used, they appear as blips on the edges of the sonar, simply indicating presence. 

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There are multiple ways to turn the ship, but it’s unknown which one will let you hit all milestones. But as you begin to move forward (through the first quarter of the year, for example) things will become clearer and your tactical execution of the initial strategy will propel you towards achieving your first ‘quick win’.

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How Do We Get There?

As time progresses through the year (or as the ship moves forward), you begin to see where the milestones are in relation to you and in relation to each other. 

Milestones should be measurable and influenceable, otherwise how would we know that we can even achieve them? Some influences to these to bear in mind are:

Processes being used – Can we change something in our current process or methodology? 

    • E.g. If we changed the channels by which we publish our marketing content, will it impact viewership and therefore generate more inbound leads?

Personnel – Ensuring the most modern standards are met or hiring additional staff. 

    • Operating with the latest standards in mind will help you work better for your product and your customer profile.

Tools – Can we implement powerful tools to allow us to reach our milestones in the most efficient way? 

    • Perhaps a new pipeline tracking system, a good CRM, new prospecting or email marketing tools will allow you to reach these goals efficiently.

Focusing on one goal is important to ensure success, but always bear in mind the inter-dependencies when creating the plan. For example, are there activities we can perform that will positively impact the outcome of two milestones simultaneously, or lay the groundwork now for an upcoming milestone later down the line? 

Regular Analysis and Review

It is important to reflect back and identify how the ideal route of your ship compared to its actual route. By understanding the past through regular analysis and review, you will be in a much better position to plot the future. 

Periodic analysis is the best way to achieve this by implementing measurable and influenceable KPIs that have a set validity. 

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Here are some examples of measurable and influenceable KPIs:

  • Percentage of outbound calls successfully connected.
  • Conversion rate of discovery calls to demo calls.
  • Click-through rates from a newsletter email to educational content.
  • Call to action engagement rates on landing pages.

These are micro-KPIs that you are able to influence, and by positively influencing many of them you will reach those milestones faster than you would if trying to tackle a large, monolithic problem on its own.

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Looking Back

On a broader scale, when looking back to your previous longer term goals (which were made up of many individual milestones and micro-KPIs), analysis should be aggregated. For example, assessing how effective certain campaigns were, the aggregated performance of a team of sales people over a quarter, etc. 

Regardless of the scale of the milestone or KPI you’re measuring against, always remember to remain objective. If a strategy has worked in the past, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will work in the future. You should remain flexible to new approaches and new ways of working. Be open to veering off to the right if this route is more appropriate to reach future goals.

Next Up in this Series

Our next article will focus more on the process of setting up and measuring KPIs, discussing the practicalities of the process, some key metrics that every sales & marketing manager should be considering as part of team performance analysis, and some of the pitfalls to avoid when setting goals.

Need help with your sales & marketing strategy?


If you identify with the challenges outlined in this article, why not book in a call with Tom to discuss it further? He can provide no-obligation advice, completely free of charge, and may have a fresh perspective to help you solve the issues you’re facing.

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