What’re the differences between business, marketing and advertising objectives?

Every Tuesday and Thursday, Steven Keith will simplify a misunderstood marketing term, kill a common marketing misconception, or pry apart terms within the realm of digital marketing that should never have become synonymous.

The differences between business, marketing and advertising objectives often get confused, or, at the very least, they blur into each other creating enough confusion to cloud planning and execution. Keeping the definitions clear and concise, and understanding how they ought to build upon each other, helps those accountable for meeting these objectives keep in alignment with each other.

A business objective is the more precise, measurable path a business needs to take to achieve its goals. They are made clearer, more believable, and more achievable when they reference what specifically needs to be achieved, who is primarily accountable and responsible, when it should be done, how it should be done at a high level, and why it needs to be done in the first place.

A typical business objective could read, “To meet our goal of having the dominant market share in the cloud server market, we will onboard 70% of the top 1000 cloud server buyers as paying customers by the end of 2017, and 80% by 2018. The Executive Suite, specifically the COO, is primarily accountable for achieving this objective.” A business objective directly affects the entire company.

A marketing objective is typically subordinate to a business objective. Similar to a business objective, a marketing objective is also a more precise and measureable marketing path a business needs to take to meet its business objectives.

For example, a marketing objective could be, “In order to meet our business objectives of 70% market share in the cloud server market, we will increase our online marketing budget by 30%, increase our spend on awareness activities by 50% over last year, and achieve a cost per customer acquisition of $120 by the end of 2017. The CMO is primarily accountable for achieving this objective.” Marketing is affected most by these objectives.

An advertising objective is typically subordinate to a marketing objective. It lays out how marketing will be used to enter a market, introduce a new offering, raise awareness, create specific or general demand, acquire or retain customers, and/or increase loyalty/advocacy.

A standard advertising objective could read, “In order to meet our marketing objectives, we will follow marketing’s buyer’s journey atlas (journey atlas is a series of dynamic buyer’s journeys that help marketers see a larger picture across a larger set of users) to increase campaigns across ‘awareness’ by 20%, ‘try’ by 30%, and ‘buy’ by 50%, effective Q416 through the end of year 2017. The CMO is primarily accountable for achieving this objective.”

The odds that a company will meet any of the abovementioned objectives is based entirely on execution. Engaged teams with clear realms of accountability and a strong sense of purpose are how great companies can set ambitious objectives—and then meet them.   


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