SMART Marketing in a Millisecond

In the past five years, the average American has reduced her monthly consumption of TV by 12 hours, her in-person socializing bytwo hours, and her phone and email activity by one hour. Today, we live in an information rich but time poor, society. This minute’s newfound idea is tomorrow’s “best marketing plan ever.” We are quick to act—creating a culture of reactivity instead of proactivity. And, when it comes to consumers, they are more challenging than ever.

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These opportunities (read: “not problems”) create the possibility of generating deep, emotional engagement from your audience, translating into bottom line impact. But you must allocate your marketing time and resources as efficiently as possible.

Today, the average urban consumer stumbles upon 5,000 brand messages per day. The number of marketing tactics has grown from traditional basics such as TV, radio, print, in-store promotion and relationship building to new opportunities such as Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram and tomorrow’s newest social platform.

Likewise, the opportunities to learn through research have expanded from traditional focus groups and quantitative surveys to social listening, ethnographic research and online chats.  As marketing opportunities emerge, implementation to take advantage of all of these opportunities becomes more and more time consuming.

It can be just as high impact to say no to marketing opportunities, as it is to say yes.  If you are bogged down in low impact initiatives, you will be distracted from achieving your goals.

So when developing your marketing objectives, make sure they are SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and trackable.

Below, I have outlined common situations and the corresponding marketing goals, along with the impact of tactics that you will choose.

Situation 1:  Market-leading brand seeks to consolidate its leadership position

Objective 1A:  Consolidate leadership position by increasing brand loyalty

Objective 1B:  Leverage leadership position to drive revenue by cross-selling new products

Commentary:  You can see how objectives 1A and 1B are complementary, but very different.  For objective 1A, you would want to increase engagement and likeability of your brand with a long-term view.  For objective 1B, your focus will be to make customers aware of new product offerings.  .

Now, consider another scenario.

Situation 2:  Upstart B2B company that seeks to rapidly expand its client base

Objective 2A:  Become established as a thought leader with a premium offering

Objective 2B:  Accelerate lead generation to build a pipeline of prospects and generate trial

Commentary:  Again, these objectives can work very well hand-in-hand.  However, prioritization is still important.  For Objective 2A, the company will likely raise the visibility of the company and offering, inclusive of executive visibility.  However, in the case of 2B, the focus will be to generate leads through search marketing, relationship building at conferences, sales calls, growing the newsletter list and other targeted advertising.  Even the purpose of tactics will be very different.  For example, social marketing in 2A will highlight thought leadership, whereas social marketing in 2B will focus on product education and trial, and will even be used to reinforce search marketing.

The above cases have been simplified.  Of course, in many organizations, many more marketing objectives cancompete for time and attention.  Don’t fall victim to spreading yourself too thin.  Ask the question, “What is the focus?” If the answer to the question is “Everything is the focus,” then you have no focus at all—that is a recipe for failure.

For additional inspiration, read fellow Wharton Magazine blogger Roslyn Courtney’s entry on “Ruthless Focus.”

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