What is your mission? Who are you as an organization? By clearly stating who you are and generally where you are going, you have taken a vital step. This is the pivotal communication point for your organization. Both insiders and outsiders should be able to clearly see what centers this entity. Where are you now? Where are you going? How will you get there?
Objectives are not the same as the goal. Objectives take you into more detail about moving toward your overall goal. Stay at a high level with these objectives and continue to do first things first. For instance, examples of early objectives might be to establish action teams and to write a marketing plan. Examples of next level objectives might be growth, advanced capabilities or coordinated events. Objectives lead to measurable targets, which are discussed later.
The goals and objectives will drive the strategic decisions of the company. Strategies establish the direction and begin to define the detail and actions taken to achieve the goals and objectives. The three categories of goals, objectives and strategies don't emerge one after the other. In fact, these tend to develop concurrently and in final form these must be clearly complimentary. Strategy is not dictated by any one set in your planning, but clearly your assessment of resources comes in to play here.
How do we know we made progress unless there is a measurable outcome? We can't. So, even the high level objectives we established above need to be measurable. For instance, when the marketing plan is done, you've met a measured objective. When the action teams are established, you've met the objective. When you establish targets, as we talk about below, you will also come back to the measures because those targets will each be a project in itself. Targets have to be measurable.
Now you can appropriately scan the market for opportunities. These will more clearly sort themselves into priorities since you've established the basics of your organization. The key aspect of this process is that you can sort out needs versus wants, always working with your strengths. It is human nature to operate from beliefs or even myth. The objective of working through this process is to eradicate the myths and establish the facts. "Just the facts Ma'am." You are creating the tools and the decision environment to make fact based decisions.
A market assessment can be done at two basic levels. First is a "desktop" assessment. This might be Web research, phone calls, networking, etc., that can give you some sense of trends, relationships and all relevant realities of the market(s) you are looking at. Next comes the guerrilla phase. This is when you get in the car or the airplane and go where the action is. It is essential to be in the mix and part of the active networks so that the potential targets know you are out there. But, you are really still in the research mode with this activity. You are armed with a sense of self in terms of goals, objectives and capabilities. So, now you are trying to get feedback to focus on the priority targets.
Stay with the program. Don't get ahead of yourself expecting to get big deals yet. You are still preparing, learning and sorting who you are against what needs are out there to be filled. True marketers are confident, but very humble. Humble is the opposite of arrogant. Arrogance is another way to spell doom in marketing. The humble person will accept what he sees and let the market tell him what it wants.
Now we know what our goals, objectives, initial strategies and measures will be in general form. We now know generally what our present capabilities are. And we've been creating a sort of asset map to help us visualize our resources. As we research and understand the market, we can fill in other layers of information so that we overlay resources with market targets.
It is only now that we can appropriately start to target the market. Yes, we may have learned some cold facts that cause us to go back and re-evaluate the objectives and strategies, but if we don't do the first things first, we will taint the process and bias our self assessment. We now have a baseline of who we are and generally where we'd like to go. By looking at the marketplace now, we can begin to see what we need to change or what we should emphasize.
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