Ep 3: Erica Mills Barnhart: Marketing Objectives

This is a transcript of Erica Mills Barnhart on the Marketing for Good podcast. You can listen to the episode here and listen to more episodes on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you enjoy listening to podcasts. Enjoy!


goals, marketing, success, objectives, support, organizational goals, relativity, vision, failure, linguistics

Erica Mills Barnhart 00:05

Welcome back, or welcome to the marketing for good podcast. I’m your host, Erica Mills Barnhart, and I’m so glad you’re here with me today. We’re going to talk about success and goals and objectives. You may have heard me say this before, and I’ll very likely say it again: often you have to change the way you think about marketing before you change the way you do marketing in order to get the best results, and that’s definitely true for how you think about success and goals and objectives. Looking at where these words come from, can tell us a lot about where they can take us. Success, for instance, came on the linguistic scene in the 1530s and immense a good results a happy outcome. What about the word goal? It also interestingly, came on the scene in the 1530s when it meant originally the endpoint of a race. Not long after the 1540s we got both sports sense of the word place where the ball etc, is put to score, as well as the figurative sense of an object of an effort. Now this last word objective, we often think of as as objective being synonymous with goal and there is a bit of a linguistic case for that, but to make the case but that case came much later when it became a noun. Originally, it was an adjective in the sense of objectively this is an excellent cup of tea I’m drinking note the neutrality and it’s a relativity to other options. I’m a tea drinker, so I’ve brewed a gajillion I mean, I’m rounding up but a gajillion cups of tea and have a lot of evidence to support that this one is really good in comparison to others. This neutrality and relativity becomes important when we bring this back to marketing. Marketing is a means to an end. It is in service to your mission, your purpose, your vision, your values. Its job is to help your organization achieve a happy outcome. Remember, that’s the definition of success. This is why I say you don’t need marketing goals, which you know, a lot of people are like, what are you talking about? What I’m talking about is, you need to be clear on what success looks like for your organization over all, and then you identify what goals will get you there, and the marketing supports those goals. There’s a hierarchy, objectives, support goals, goals lead you to success. Unless you’re grounded in this idea that marketing isn’t service to your mission, you end up with a marketing tail wagging the organizational dog and that is not a pretty sight. One super practical points. marketing objectives will serve you best if they are one year or less. Why? A built in the opportunity to see what’s working and what’s not. When it comes to your marketing. One of the great things about marketing especially these days, is there are so many options, but not all things will work equally well. So for this to happen, for this experimentation to happen, you need to create a culture where when something doesn’t work well, that’s just information on route to success. Right? It allows you to course correct. And remember, objectives are objective. It’s about figuring out what objectively is working best relative to your goals and your vision of success. Keep it neutral. Experimenting and the failure that sometimes comes along with it should be should be celebrated, not punished, because now you have information. Hurray. Hey, if you have a culture where failure isn’t okay, you can’t actually ever be successful. This is why, I believe, you often see itty bitty wishy washy goals. Right? Michelangelo said, the great danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark. Here’s the rub. It’s true. If you set goals that are infinitely achievable, you’ll achieve them and that will feel that’ll feel great. For a fleeting moment. But if you set your goals too low, there’s really no way to achieve your big beautiful vision for this world. Jim Collins would encourage you to set big hairy audacious goals lovingly referred to as B hags. Putting those goals or putting goals that big into writing is scary, because it means you might fail, you might not succeed. So this is a balancing act of setting goals that are big enough to catapult you towards your vision to actually one day get you there. While not demoralize your staff on board on the way. When I work with organizations, they’re oftentimes surprised by how much time we spend drilling down on how marketing can support their organizational goals. Ditto for when I teach this. My students are like, Oh my gosh, we’re going to spend how long talking about goals and objectives? And they, you know, people want to talk about messaging and websites and whether they should use something different with their annual gala. And I totally get all that. And I love talking about those things. But those are hows, right? And the Claxon method, that’s all of those are hows and you have to start with what success looks like and then who your target audience is, and then we can talk about the hows and have some fun there. But, you know, it’s actually not uncommon for me to say, it’s not time to talk about your hows, it’s not time to work on your marketing and messaging, because you aren’t clear enough on how either will serve you. We know that where your attention goes your energy flows. And so if you think about it, if you never set goals, your attention and energy and that of your team never goes there, or at least it doesn’t go there in any concentrated concerted fashion. Not only that is inefficient, it’s bad for morale. People in general want to know where they’re headed. They want to know what’s expected of them. There’s that saying all who wander aren’t lost, and I love that you’ve seen them bumper stickers. But if you’re trying to make strategic decisions with limited resources, it’s not time for wandering. It’s not time for a walkabout. It’s time for clarity and decisiveness. ambiguity is efficient. And that’s not fun for your people, and it’s bad for your bottom line.

Erica Mills Barnhart 06:31

In other episodes, I get more into the weeds on types of organizational goals and marketing objectives and how those two things interrelate, and what they mean about success and all of those things. But for today, I want you to take away this idea that marketing is a means to an end and that the clearer you are and what success looks like for your organization, the better able marketing is to get you to your happy outcome. And thinking about success and what it means for you in your organization and your team, remember Les Brown’s advice, shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars. So let’s wrap up with a quick review. Know what success looks like, set goals, make them big shoot for the moon, and make the goals crystal clear so everyone’s attention and energy is flowing in the same direction. Then figure out how marketing can support those organizational goals and set marketing objectives that support them, one year or less in length. Create a culture where failure is simply information on route to success. And now if you were out on a walk or multitasking or whatever, while listening to this, if you remember nothing else from this episode, I hope you’ll remember that marketing’s job is to be in service to your mission that it is a means to a happy end. Thank you for spending time with me today, and thank you, thank you, thank you for making our world a better place.


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