Marketing Goals vs. Marketing Strategy: What's The Difference

Getting digital marketing right isn’t always easy — especially if that marketing is aimed at the manufacturing and industrial sector, which often involves high-volume, high-cost transactions and very long purchase cycles.

The decision-making process in this field is inherently slow, and oftentimes industrial marketers struggle to connect with their audience in a way that moves them through the buying cycle while providing them with directly useful, engaging content.

Setting marketing benchmarks is the only way you’ll be able to achieve scalable growth throughout the next few months and beyond — it’s never too early to start planning your business goals for next quarter or even next month.

To help you plan, we've outlined the difference between marketing goals and a marketing strategy so you can improve yours and connect with higher-quality prospects.

The Difference Between Marketing Goals And Marketing Strategy

Increase revenue. Expand market share. Improve brand recognition. Boost website traffic. These are all examples of general business goals — outcomes you would like to achieve moving forward.

But many marketers turn to the SMART mnemonic when defining key goals and elaborate on those business goals to present a clearer picture of their intended outcome.

Here’s what SMART means:

  • Specific — The desired outcome should be defined in clear, specific terms. Set real numbers and real deadlines to hold yourself accountable.
  • Measurable — Your goal should be easily trackable and measurable.
  • Attainable — Make sure the goal is realistic given the resources available (your employees, your budget, your tools). Set high standards, but take things a step at a time.
  • Relevant — The goal should make sense for your specific needs and should tie in with a big-picture plan.
  • Time-Bound — All goals should have clear deadlines for achievement. Without set dates, your goals will just be a form of wishful thinking.

While many people assume objectives, tactics, and strategies are basically the same thing as goals, these are all distinct concepts.

  • Objectives are milestones along the path to achieving goals. If the goal is to increase leads by 40% this summer, an objective may be to have new “lead magnets” — like content freebies — in place within two weeks to entice more registrations.
  • Tactics are the actual methods or channels you use to pursue the objectives. In the above example, industrial marketers may leverage paid advertising as a tactic to bring interested prospects to the new freebies. Tactics fuel the attainment of the goal.

But none of these concepts offer a map of how to get to the destination defined in a set goal.

This is where strategy comes in.

  • A strategy is a fully fleshed-out blueprint outlining the specific approach (which may be the combination of two or more separate approaches) that will make it possible to achieve the goal.

To meet the goal of increasing leads by 40%, for instance, an industrial marketer may create a strategy focused on becoming an authority on the topic of lean production.





40% more leads by summer

Become an authority on lean production

Offer content freebies about lean production on our website

Use PPC to drive traffic to these freebies

Examples Of Marketing Goals

Most small companies determine their marketing goals based on their needs, like "I need more visitors to my website," "I need more visitors to convert into leads," or "I need more leads to convert to customers." Document what your needs are. Then, based on the need, set a specific number for a goal that is realistic and has a time frame attached to it (refer back to the SMART template to guide you).

Here are some examples of marketing goals for more inspiration:

  • We will see 20,000 organic sessions to our blog by the end of this year by increasing our weekly publishing frequency from 2 posts a week to 4 posts a week.
  • By the end of Q3, we will see a 10% increase in eBook downloads on our landing pages after optimizing the length and style of the form.
  • By this time next year, we will gain 25% more email subscribers after implementing targeted display ads and utilizing PPC for the first time.

Characteristics Of Industrial Marketing Strategies

A marketing strategy should be your blueprint for marketing success, which should:

  • Eliminate confusion
  • Show the way forward, helping to set clear objectives
  • Guide in the choice of specific tactics during the different stages of execution
  • Ensure proper budget utilization

There are four key characteristics of successful marketing strategies:

  1. Targeted — A good marketing strategy starts with the buyer persona or the ideal customer profile. Strategy should be guided by a clear understanding of the end-user or consumer so that the other pieces of the puzzle can use buyer pain points, expectations, and communication-channel preferences to craft robust campaigns. Check out this blog for Persona Targeting Basics For Manufacturers.
  1. Dynamic — A strategy is not written in stone (but you should document it on paper!). In fact, the biggest advantage of having a well-thought-out strategy is being able to quickly identify what isn’t working and swap it out with better, more effective ideas.
  1. Data-Driven — A strategy isn’t just a set of assumptions. Rather, it should be driven by data analysis, evaluation of past results, and consideration of trends on the horizon. A data-driven strategy allows marketers to take calculated risks once all variables have been carefully evaluated.
  1. Scalable — A strategy should be able to accommodate larger budget inputs in order to produce the desired outcome on a much bigger scale. Think of a strategy as a machine: The direction you take for a 40% increase in leads should also apply to a 200% spike, without resulting in serious logistical complications.

Planning A Marketing Strategy Involves Research

You’ll want to keep your goals at the forefront when creating and executing your marketing strategy. Before jumping right in, reflect on what you’ve already tried. What worked, what didn’t, what exceeded expectations, and what fell flat? This is why analyzing the data you have available (and that you've documented) comes into play and will help you make better-informed market predictions for the future.

Planning for your new industrial strategy also involves analyzing your competitors — but don't dive too deep into their work. Take a look at how your competitors go about their marketing campaigns. Subscribe to their emails and newsletters, and follow them on social media to better understand their approach and how they’re targeting potential customers. Understanding what your competitors are investing in will give you a better sense of the marketplace and what will work best for your own business. Consider requesting a digital health from industrial marketing experts to check your current online performance and see exactly where you can improve. 

Examine your roster of current customers as well as those you’re pursuing. You’ll notice there are significant distinctions between them; different clients and potential clients have different needs and goals and will be navigating different stages of the buying journey. So why would you deploy the same marketing strategies for all of them? 

Bonus Resource! Bookmark our How To Meet The Needs Of Industrial B2B Buyers

Work on establishing buyer personas and try classifying your target audience into different categories based on industry, geographical location, revenue level, company size, business needs, and ultimate goals. Scrape together valuable insights from your sales data and website analytics, and don’t be afraid to reach out to current clients to ask them about their buying experience and overall needs; they’ll likely appreciate the personalized attention.

Once you’ve established who your customers and prospects are, refine your marketing strategy for each group according to their unique requirements and goals. 

The Framework For Organizing Your Marketing Strategy

There’s a reason we talk about marketing plans and content strategy — you want to make sure that you’re cohesive, on topic, and consistent across the board in order to get the best results. How can you get your marketing strategy organized and on target?

1. Clearly define your brand.

Assume factors like price and product selection are equal.

What other qualities would make a prospect choose you over a competitor? The answer to this question is the basis for your brand. Marketing guru Seth Godin further defines it as a “set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships” — so you need to decide just what expectations you’ll set, and what stories you’ll tell.

For a B2B company, a cohesive and direct strategy is essential to ensuring that your brand, and your products or services are memorable to your audience of prospects and customers.

2. Plan your content

Calendars are a critical component of every content marketing plan.

At the very least, you need an editorial calendar of general topics for your blogs and a daily schedule of post types (industrial news, the economy, technical developments, and so on) for your social media. They'll help you balance the different types of content you distribute, ensure that you don’t promote yourself too heavily on social media, and inspire you with ideas when it’s time to actually sit down and write (or develop other forms of content).

3. Use an automation tool

Regular content distribution doesn’t mean logging into Twitter every 45 minutes to make a post.

Manufacturers who just start out tend to use platforms and applications like Buffer or Hootsuite that let you schedule content throughout the day (and night) while devoting a set block of time to curating and creating your content for the day (or longer, though make sure you’re sharing timely information).

As you grow, you may need a complete CRM to automate your social media, emails, etc. like HubSpot.

4. Make sure you monitor your efforts

Make sure you’re monitoring your website pages, retweets, shares, mentions, and other “shout-outs” across your networks. Either ensure that you’re getting notifications of those events, or look into a platform like HubSpot that gives you “one-stop” access to all of your social interactions.

5. Keep your messaging consistent and clear

It’s hard to lose the script when you’re embodying a brand and messaging that you actually believe in. Draw on your experience to share and create content that you know is useful and interesting to your target audience. View your marketing as a natural extension of the service and quality that you’ve always provided. Don’t resort to sales-y tactics that you know would repel you.

Learn More: 2021 Brand Marketing Inspiration For Beginners

Define Your Marketing Strategy And Goals

Putting together a strategy that hits all of these checkboxes is a big task, especially if you haven’t done it before.

And for those new to the world of industrial marketing, it can often be tough to get ideas off the ground and stay up-to-date on the newest innovations; it seems there’s a new groundbreaking strategy to adopt every week, and trying to stay ahead of the curve can be daunting. There will naturally be some questions and uncertainty, but this is all part of the process.

To stay ahead of the competition, it’s critical to create a well-thought-out marketing strategy tailored to your unique needs. Equally important is maintaining the discipline to stick with the plan and grow your business.

Not sure where to start? The experts at Thomas Marketing Services have created strategies for some of the biggest names in manufacturing, and we’re here to help with your specific B2B marketing goals. Reach out to the team today to discuss your options with an expert and learn more about effective marketing for manufacturing companies.New call-to-action

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