Strategic Planning: Be Specific or Risk Wasting Marketing Dollars


Specificity is essential when documenting target audiences and goals as part of the strategic planning process. The more specific you are the better focused your strategies and tactics can be, and the more likely you will achieve your goals.

Consider how this plays out in our personal lives. If you establish a goal to be healthier, what does that mean? You want to lose 5 pounds? You want to reduce stress? You want to eat better? It can be interpreted many different ways. A better goal would be to lose 5 pounds in 2 months or run a 5K. Then, identifying your actions (e.g. join a running club, etc.), becomes easier, and it is clear whether you achieved your goal.

The same is true for marketing.

Target Audiences

When it comes to specifying target audiences, push beyond identifying customers, prospects, employees, etc., and consider the following:

1. Is there a specific type of customer you are really trying to target based on demographics and psychographics? For example, Fortune 500 companies that value the current and future capabilities of the Internet of Things. Women who are passionate about the environment.
2. Are there McGehee School or vertical markets you can be targeting from financial to healthcare, retail, education, etc.?
3. For B2B marketing, are there specific titles you are targeting?
4. Be sure to consider not only the decision makers but also the specifiers and influencers.
5. Are there any geographic considerations?
6. Review your current customer data to identify additional target audiences, geographic locations, vertical markets, etc. you might be overlooking.

Once target audiences are documented, you can begin to segment and determine the right messaging and strategies for each target audience.


Similar to identifying target audiences, the key to goal setting is specificity. Really push to set measurable goals and consider how you will measure success for each goal.

“Build brand” and “increase sales” are good goals, but they don’t provide much direction on how to measure success. For example, build brand among what audiences? And by how much? Increase sales by how much? What percentage of revenue will come from your specific products/services? Increase sales among current customers and by how much? Increase sales among new customers and by how much? Increase sales through which revenue channels?

Being specific during the planning process takes more time and more effort. But if accomplished correctly, you will reap the rewards. You and your team will have better direction, a better opportunity at identifying and implementing the right strategies and a better opportunity of achieving your goals.

Jennifer Manocchio


After starting her career with Edelman in Chicago, Jennifer joined Sweeney and quickly established herself as an exceptional industry innovator. In 2004, she opened Sweeney’s first full-service office outside of Cleveland and quickly rose through the ranks to become agency president. Jen leads by example and without fear. She has been critical to agency growth throughout the past decade and continues to lead the agency into the future.