Without objectives, it is nearly impossible to guide and control decision making. Good performance occurred in the absence of objectives can rarely be sustained. The challenge today is to bring effective management to the advertising process in such a way as to provide simulation as well as direction to the creative effort. The solution is the meaningful objective.
Advertising objectives, like organizational objectives, should be operational. They should be effective communication tools, providing a line between strategic and tactical decisions. A convenient and enticing advertising objective is immediate sales or market share.
However, an increase in immediate sales is not operational in many cases for two reasons:
- Advertising is one of many factors influencing sales, and it is difficult to isolate its contribution to sales. The other forces include price, distribution, packaging, product features, competitive actions, and changing buyer needs and tastes.
- The second reason involves the long-term effect of advertising on sales. If advertising generates a substantial lagged effect on sales, then the impact of an advertising campaign may not be known until an unacceptable length of time has passed. For example, an important contribution of a 6-month campaign might be its impact 12 months hence. If immediate sales of not the basis of operational objectives, how does to proceed?
The answer to the following questions will yield useful and effective advertising objectives.
Who is the target segment?
What is the ultimate behavior that advertising is attempting to precipitate, reinforce, change, or influence?
What is the process that will lead to the desired behavior and what role can advertising play in the process?
Is it necessary to create awareness, communicate information about the brand, create an image or attitude, or associate feelings or a type of user personality with a brand?
- Identify the target audience. The specification of the target audience should be a part of the marketing objectives.
- The analysis of the ultimate desired behavior such as trial purchases of new customers, maintenance of loyalty of excising customers, creation of a more positive use experience, reduction of time between purchases, or the decision to visit a retailer use experience, reduction of time between purchases, or the decision to visit a retailer.
- An analysis of the communication and decision process the will affect the desired behavior. It might be that the key variable in inducing a new customer to try your brand is to inculcate high levels of brand awareness. The best way to maintain loyalty is to strengthen an attitude. Which intervening variables provide the best link to the desired behavior and which can be influenced economically by advertising are to be determined.
- An analysis of market dynamics can lead to behavioral measures that by themselves can provide the basis for operational objectives. If the advertising’s target is new customers, the goal may be to get new customers to try a brand for the first time. The results would be measured by the number of new customers attached.
The use of behavioral measure as objectives is often appropriate in retailing (store traffic measures), direct marketing, and sales promotion and in lead generation for salespeople. It is useful to analyze the communication and decision process relevant to the desired behavior and to identify intervening variables on which to base objectives. Some situations could dictate the joint use of intervening and behavioral objectives.