The most important question in our business, and maybe yours too, is often the question that’s most overlooked for its simplicity and because the answer is so commonly assumed. Here it is:
Companies, businesses and individuals without an objective are like Twitter – there’s noise, activity and some level of assumed intention: but who knows what’s really happening, or why.
Because that’s the thing with objective; it’s easy to skim over or get wrong entirely.
Usually the overall business goal is obvious – become a highly profitable company.
But it’s from here that businesses skip the objective and get stuck into the strategies and tactics – run an ad campaign, hire more staff, launch new product lines – without asking why, and how these tactics pair with the goal.
Examples of this are all around us: businesses with highly-qualified target markets that are advertising in widely-circulated newspapers or magazines, sites launching apps with no actual function, or businesses that rebuild websites that don’t communicate their own offering.
In some cases it’s not just about not knowing the objective, but that there’s congruency above (with your business goal) and below (with your strategy and tactics).
In the past I had a client through an agency that wanted to bid on iPad through Paid Search because that was a trending keyword at the time. They sold corporate software, but they thought that their objective was to get in front of as many eyes as possible, instead of selling their corporate software.
As an agency usually tasked with achieving an objective, not defining it, this sort of scenario can be tricky. Our own objective, though, is to deliver great value to our clients – so we work with this sort of client to understand their business and help direct them towards an objective that’s likely to be profitable and in line with their business goal.
Another business I’ve worked with couldn’t commit to their objective. The wanted leads, in which case the Cost Per Lead and conversion of leads to sales should have been their most important metrics.
However, they couldn’t commit to their leads and continued to misalign their perception of the campaigns and their success based on other metrics. They would hold weekly meetings about small changes in impression levels or click-through rates; even when the leads themselves had increased or were above their target.
Get your objective right and commit. While the details matter, stick to the output. If you want apples, count the apples – not the number of apple trees and keep your eye off the weather forecast. Leave that to the guy that’s been charged with getting you as many apples as possible.