Setting Marketing Goals

Setting goals is incredibly important. But why? Without clear goals, your department will be unfocused and is unlikely to take your business where it needs to go.

Goals are a tricky thing. If you are in a position to set goals for your department, you want them to be achievable, while at the same time not being an easy slam-dunk. Goals should encourage employees to stretch a little bit. You want to have over-achievers, not ‘business as usual’ experts. Tweet that!

The methodology of setting goals definitely varies by company. I’ve worked in places where the goals were simply ‘10% higher’ than the year before.  I’ve also had goals set through careful analysis of run rates to determine where the business has to be (and yes, those sometimes ended at 10% higher than the year before).  And, I’ve had goals set for me that look at run rates and go up from there.

I’m a believer that if you set goals too high, where you know the chances of them being achieved are low, all you end up doing is demotivating your staff. You really want the goal to be one everyone can get behind and strive to reach. I don’t mean easily reach by doing what they’ve always done, I mean stretch to reach because they are incented to do more, or to do things better.

While at AOL, I spent some time working in the Customer Retention department (no snickers please!).  My boss set the goals for the department, and one particular year he put a goal on ending customers, the number of total customers the company would have by year-end. He came to the number through analysis, gut, and the knowledge of programs we were launching to entice customers to stay with us. It was not an easy number but we all knew what that number was. We watched our monthly numbers like hawks to drive to our goal. And guess what? In a year where we had over 10 million customers by year-end, we ‘missed’ our number by 71. 71! We celebrated the huge win!

The point of that story is, however you set your goals, they should serve to motivate.  Most places I’ve worked have weekly meetings where sales numbers are reviewed. The reason for those meetings is to keep everyone focused and on track.

A colleague of mine decided to launch an initiative called ‘Leave no Customer Behind.’ It’s brilliant! Her group is totally focused on uncovering points where we lose customers, and closing those gaps. Not only is it innovative, it has given her staff clear direction on where to focus because there are goals associated with the effort.

Review what’s key to your business success. Is it sales, leads, cost per order, social sharing, hits to your blog? Create goals to achieve each important metric, make sure everyone knows what those goals are and work together to achieve them.

Good luck!


Please send me a message to let me know of other topics you’d like to read about.


Content Gold Mines

Most companies these days post on various social media, or keep a blog as a part of their website. And it can be hard to decide what to write about. Last year I wrote a post about great places to find inspiration for your content.  That article mentions sources like

  • Talking to your sales team
  • Talking to customer service
  • Talking to other employees in your company

But there are other places to seek inspiration.

Senior Management. Interview senior management at your company and find out if it would add value to write content about something they know will be of interest later in the month/quarter/year.

Press Releases. Check press releases from your company and from your competition to see if there’s anything that would make a good topic for some timely content.

Twitter. Start participating in Twitter chats. You can search by subject for scheduled chats here You can actively participate in chats or you can just read the chat as it’s taking place. Twitter chats are a great way to learn about a particular topic and can also provide great ideas for content.

LinkedIn. LinkedIn groups are another great source for content ideas. By joining groups relevant to your business, you can read conversations taking place and gain insight into questions being asked.

Your competition. Do some web searching to see where your competition is turning up in the press. Perhaps they are participating in a ‘conversation’ where you also should be at the table.  Or maybe they do something really well. By writing your own post on that topic, you can start to position your own company as the subject matter expert in that area.


5 Sources for Inspiring Marketing Content

It’s notIdeas news that engaging, informative and interesting content is key to gaining readership. Many websites have blogs. In fact, the number of blogs in total has risen 25% since January 2015 to January 2016 to 276 million (source

And there are plenty of stats about how blogging can help your business.

Just these three stats alone should be enough to convince you that you need a blog on your website. Sites with blogs that have continual postings:

Have 97% more links to their site

Generate 55% more site visits

Have pages indexed <by search engines> 434% more often.

So where do you get the content for those blog posts?

The Competition – What does your competition post about? Reading your competitors’ content can give you a good sense for how they are positioning themselves. And, it can give you some good ideas for your own content.

Customers – Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. If you were in the market for your product, what would you want to know about?  You can even take the step of asking some of your customers what’s important to them. All great fodder for future posts! Plus, your customers post on social media, sometimes about your company. Stay vigilant in tracking those posts so that you can identify topics that are of interest.

Your Salespeople – Ask your salespeople what objections they hear most often when they are on sales calls. Use those objections as a way to formulate content that counters them. You wouldn’t want to say: “Our customers say our product breaks after 3 weeks. But our studies show…” Instead you’d write a post about how you build your product using the top materials available in the industry.

Your Customer Service Staff – These people are on the front-lines. They talk to your customers every day and have great insight. They may be able to identify potential issues that may come up on their calls, and if you can tease them out, you can write a post that counters an issue before it becomes a real problem.

Other Bloggers – Identify bloggers who write about your industry and actively read those blogs. They will be a great source of information that you can write about yourself.

The Mood Ring, Pocket Fisherman and Philip Kives

Post from April 30, 2016

As seen on TVPhilip Kives died last week. You might not even realize that you know him, but you do. He invented the infomercial.  Some might call him the founder of direct response.  He revolutionized marketing.

He brought us these products:

You’re probably familiar with the ‘As Seen on TV Logo’. Yep. That’s Philip Kives.

Or do you remember those commercials where the greatest of hits of an era would play while the song list scrolled up your TV screen? You guessed it, Philip Kives.

He grew up poor, living with his parents on their farm in a tiny town in Canada. After graduating from high school, he successfully sold products door to door, such as vacuum cleaners and cookware, earning $29,000 in 1959, a small fortune. In his early 20s, he figured out that TV would be a more efficient way to reach people, and so the infomercial was born. And in 1963, Kives founded the company called K-tel International.

The very first infomercial ever produced was for a Teflon non-stick fry pan. And you guessed it – Philip Kives was the mind behind it. He was 32. Turned out that Teflon might help keep food from sticking, but it didn’t stick so well to the frying pan itself. So he looked for other products. He bought a bunch of products to sell from Seymour Popeil, father of Ron Popeil, the guy who coined the phrase:

“But wait, there’s more!”

Three years later, for no apparent reason, he traveled to Australia with an infomercial he had made himself, selling the Feather Touch Knife. In five months’ time, he had sold a million knives, earning $1 per knife for himself. Ironically, because Kives was so successful, Popeil decided to stop selling products to him, because he was getting too big.

That change forced Kives to start finding and developing his own products, and that’s when he hit on the jackpot: compilation hit song records. His company sold 500 million albums by 1983!

Kives perfected the all important call-to-action. His messages were simple: “Only available through this very special TV offer” and “Buy now while supplies last”, “Snap up one of the first 30,000 LPs”

Eamonn Forde, @Eamonn_Forde writing for theguardian summed up Kives style perfectly: “His approach to sales was unapologetically mainstream. The marketing language was simple and unswerving at a time when, as illustrated by Mad Men, the advertising industry was attempting to elevate itself to a level of erudition and sophistication that perhaps it didn’t quite deserve. For Kives, the sales message should have no space for indulgence or purple prose.”

We should all be so successful.

The Perfect Couple: Content Marketing and Direct Marketing

ogilvy quote.png

Direct Marketing (aka Direct Response Marketing, aka DM) and Content Marketing are often seen as two very different aspects of marketing. But in fact, as Wayne Hendry (@ideakid88) so aptly tweeted: They are two sides of the same coin.

Earlier this week I was honored to be the ‘guest tweeter’ at Content Marketing Institute’s content marketing Twitter chat. The topic was how Content and Direct can (and should!) work together.

I have pulled together some of the conversation here.  Great insight and learnings and hopefully you’ll learn something that will help you in your marketing plans. This was a lively group of intelligent marketers!


The first question help define what direct marketing actually is along with why content marketers should care: Direct Marketing (aka direct response marketing) refers to marketing efforts aimed directly at a consumer to drive a specific action. It’s all about finding out what resonates with your audience so that they’ll respond.

Mike Myers ‏@mikemyers614 added: Direct marketing and content marketing are perfect compliments…getting a targeted #audience to do something specific in both.

Next question was about using DM to inform your content.

Angela J. Ford ‏@aford21 uses customer responses to direct her marketing, and turns questions she hears into blog posts with step by step solutions.

And Marcel Digital ‏@marceldigital adds (over  two tweets):

Direct marketing and direct engagement give you SO many content ideas – it’s straight from your clients! What are user questions? Issues? Ideas? How can you take that information and provide REAL value? CONTENT!

The real key here is seeing what your audience responds to in DM and using that to inform your content. From Lars Helgeson ‏@larshelgeson:  A great way to develop content is by seeing what resonates with your audience. What do they respond to? Write that.

Remember that one method of communication with your audience can inform all your communications. Listen to your audience when they talk to you!

Rosaline Raj ‏@creativechaosc: When you have direct feedback from customers, you have a major advantage in creating valuable content.

Crowd Content ‏@CrowdContent added:  If you’re successfully executing direct response mrkting, content should be built around what your audience responds to.


Thanks EELECTRIK marketing‏. @eelectriklady for this oldie!

ogilvey quote

A couple of quotable tweets:

From Varun Kumar ‏@varunkr842  – Direct #Marketing is the gas station for your #contentmarketing vehicle #CMWorld

And from Liliana GH ‏@Liliholl –  DM warms up your leads and content marketing helps them to convert.


And from Blue Fountain Media ‏@BFMweb – With direct marketing you’re saying check this out and with content marketing you’re saying here’s why #cmworld

Liliana GH @Liliholl reminded us: You want your DM to have the customer asking for more.

Q4 asked how your content marketing can help drive DM tests. There are many answers but consider what content is read most. Test those themes in a mailer, DRTV or space ad. And if some of your content creates social media buzz, use that in your DM to engage your audience.

Tons of brands use content marketing well in their direct marketing. Everyone knows ShamWow, Nautilus and infomercial experts, but also look at Apple, Nissan, Discover Cards, and Dove.

Regarding how social and community management can support DM programs, think about how you can use your social posts to reinforce messages from your DM. If DM is touting a product benefit, soc. posts can talk about the same.

Social and community are all about listening and responding to customers:

Simply put by Lars Helgeson ‏@larshelgeson:  I think they go hand-in-hand. Your strategy should be integrated for better reach and exposure.

Lynn Suderman ‏@LynnSuderman also reminded the group that “affiliate & refer friend programs are an easy 1st step.”

Jeremy Bednarski ‏@JeremyBednarski  “Your content, DM and social should all work together for a consistent message.”

Marcel Digital ‏@marceldigital “It gives you the language for copy that your audience is using to understand the need for your service / product.

SurveyGizmo ‏@SurveyGizmo  “If you know what your audience is talking about, you can better respond, and put yourself in the position to be of relevance.”

Importantly too, social and communities can ID hot buttons. If you hear ‘they use cheap materials,’ test a message around quality in your DM.

As always, keeping a tab on your competition is so important and social/community can help you do that, while giving you great ideas for your DM (or content).

The Gary J. Nix ® ‏@Mr_McFly  “When listening, you’re not only listening for brand mentions. You have competitors, industry thoughts/changes, sentiment, etc”

Vanessa LeBeau ‏@VanessaLeBeau2  “Social media is a great way to learn what your competitors are offering and how their consumers are responding”