Questions (for you)

Target setting: I need your advice

Dear blog reader

I need your help. Don’t worry, it’s not for advice that I’ll be able to sell on, or which will take you very long to give.

I just need to know if I’m right or not about target setting in marketing…

Let me paint a picture to help set the scene.

Big meeting yesterday, 15-ish people from different businesses around the table discussing the future of common projects (for my sins, I work for a local government partnership at the moment).

We’re discussing a potential forthcoming campaign (all very woolly, which is bad really because it is only six or seven weeks away) and, when approached to give first thoughts on the Communications, I suggest that:

“If I was working for a private sector firm, the CEO/CMO [if that wasn’t me]/the Top Team would set me a target.

“’We want to increase sales 10% this month,’”, they’d say.

“And off I’d trot to construct the most magnificent plan to achieve at least the target that they’d set.

“What target would you like to set me that achieves our strategic and tactical objectives across our partnership*? What budget would you like to allocate to Communications, even roughly, so I can plan the media spend effectively across the most appropriate channels to reach the most at-risk, or strategically significant, part of our audience?”

Or words to that effect.
*(Please note: these campaigns are multi-facet and not just communication based. So awareness will come from many different interventions from several different partners, and my work is to support this and to publicise the campaign. Communications and marketing aren’t the be-all and end-all. I just wanted to make that plain).

However… What came back was something along these lines:

“You’re the creative brain. You go away and think up a campaign, then we’ll decide if we like it or not. Oh and you can tell us how much money you think you need to deliver it.”

(Again, words to that effect)

Try as I might, I couldn’t get an indication of how the group wanted to see this campaign in the real world – i.e. how many of our potential consumers they wanted exposure to via any channel; how many interactions they were expecting as part of a joint multi-agency operation etc. Or how much they were prepared to allocate (although our finance guru finally stepped in and threw me a figure, which helps) to communicate in any form.

In the past two years, the project owners haven’t had to worry too much about these targets. I’ve been tasked with creating campaigns on a specific theme, which I’ve done. I’ve been given financial limits, which I’ve worked within, and I’ve delivered back agreed products within those limits. I’ve advised and counselled on media spend to achieve most bang-for-buck within the financial constraints.

I’ve worried about my online metrics, my ad-response figures, ROI, my email reply times. The project owners haven’t had to – they’ve just signed off that I spent the right amount of money and did roughly what they thought they wanted.

But now I’m asking them for targets so that I can not only effectively task my team in this brave new world, but ensure that I don’t waste my time planning an amazing campaign for £5000 only to be told we’ve got £200, it’s all bouncing back.

So, dear blog reader, my question is as three-fold-follows:

1) Am I right to be pushing the groups and project leaders for their targets and projected outcomes, then devising strategies and tactics to have the communications support this?
2) Do I go away and worry about the overall strategic targets for these projects in terms of total project impact (which steps far outside the communications remit and into the work undertaken by other agencies)?
3) Or as a ‘creative brain’ do I go away, design up in the absence of any strategic/tactical outcomes/targets and hope for the best when the group next reconvenes?

Yours, in tired confusion,



One thought on “Target setting: I need your advice

  1. If you worry about this you are doing their job for them. Managers who say ‘just do whatever’ may not get the best out of poor staff, but for someone with initiative, such a manager is leaving the door open for you do do things your way. If you have to pester them for a target it is unlikely to be heartfelt when/if it does come. Set your own target!
    Good luck!

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