Professional Studies for Screen-Based Media
Foundation Degree South West
The Marketing Environment and Objective Setting

Developing marketing objectives

Jon Weaver, Marketing Manager, Bournemouth Borough Council

Heather Moore, Marketing and Promotions Officer Marwell Zoo, Hampshire

Once the key opportunities and threats have been identified, objectives are set. From these objectives a more detailed strategy (plan) can be produced. The brief description here makes the process look easy, but the reality of course is that the development of a marketing strategy is a complex process involving the most senior marketers in an organisation and taking up much of their time.

There are many models and tools available to managers to help with this process. For example the GE strategic business-planning grid encourages managers to plot their assessed business strength for each industry against the assessed industry attractiveness. These assessments are based on the PEST and SWOT analyses or similar. Obviously the best approach is to focus on those industries that are most attractive and where the business strength is high is.

Figure 4.2 The GE Grid

Marketing objectives will broadly relate to products (brands) and markets. This will include which markets will be exploited with which products. For some product (service)/market combinations the objective will relate to an opportunity to exploit that market. This might be an objective for market growth (getting more customers in this market) or for market penetration (getting more of the customers already in this market to buy from this organisation). For other combinations the objective may be to maintain the current position. And for some product (service)/market combinations the objective may be withdrawal, or limiting exposure where there is a high risk. These objectives might be related to removing products from the market altogether, or reducing expenditure in these markets to reduce loses. It is often easy to confuse objectives with strategies:

  • Objectives are what your marketing department seeks to achieve with its actions;
  • Strategy is how you plan to go about meeting the objectives.

It is clear from this that one follows the other, there is no point thinking about your strategy without already having clear objectives. A useful checklist for developing good objectives is 'S.M.A.R.T'

  • Specific - objectives should be as focussed as possible
  • Measurable - objectives need to be easy to measure so that you can know when they have been met
  • Achievable - there is little point in setting out to do something you are confident you can not do!
  • Relevant - objectives should focus on the most important aspects of your organisations future, don't waste effort on trivial matters
  • Timely - an objective should have a stated time frame against it, making it clear by when you intend to achieve it.


  • to increase to number of weekend and short-stay (under 4 days) visitors to the resort by 10% in the 2004 season
  • To increase the number of long-haul distinction bookings by 15% by the end of 2004
  • To capture 10% of the family holiday insurance market within 1 year

The marketing environment: a critique

Heather Moore, Marketing and Promotions Officer Marwell Zoo, Hampshire

The review of the external environment and analysis against internal strengths and weaknesses is undoubtedly an important aspect of business. However there are a couple of potential problems in carrying out these activities.

Firstly consider the complexity of the environment. Can managers ever really understand all the external factors? They are not political scientists, economists, sociologists or technologists. The attempt to fully understand can sometimes cause paralysis in decision making. It may be easier to keep looking for more information that to actually make a decision.

Information is also historical – it tells a manager what happened in the past. This means that there is a danger that decisions are always based on an environment which has already changed. To help managers, some research organisations specifically focus on predicting future trends, for example Henley Centre

Worse, it is one thing to look for opportunities, but competition in most markets is so strong that many organisations may find nothing but threats.

The process can take over the outcome. Managers may produce incredibly complex analysis, but fail to translate this into action – remember that the reason for the review is the development of strategy – not the production of reports, complex grids and lists of possible actions. As a manager you will have to ask yourself what the value of any data is? Can the time and cost of analysis be justified? Is the process resulting in better decisions? Has the process become formulaic and is it therefore in need of a new approach? Ultimately you will have to accept that decisions are always made with imperfect knowledge. There is always some risk and doubt. Although this is no excuse for sloppy thinking and poorly thought through decisions, there is more scope for creativity and imagination than the established models and processes sometimes suggest.