Manufacturing Marketing – Building a Modern Growth Machine

There are a lot of organizations that rely on face to face relationships to increase revenue. In manufacturing, especially if you are regional or specialized – the value of your network is particularly important. But often, as organizations that focus only on relationships start seeking growth, the role different roles marketing and sales play in the pipeline unfolds. Sales (the relationship)is a short-term player. The hunter, sometimes gatherer, who finds revenue now.

Manufacturing marketing, on the other hand, is out sowing opportunity for tomorrow and next month and next quarter. As digital media advances and demographics change, marketing takes an even more active role in building pipeline and businesses that rely on relationships, like manufacturing, need to shift their focus on building a modern marketing strategy to attract and engage a modern buyer.

7 Reasons You’re Failing To Hit Your Marketing Goals

There’s an old piece of Prussian military wisdom that’s always guided me – “no plan survives first contact with the enemy” put another way, plans don’t always work out as, well, planned. As marketers, sometimes we get hung up on the planning. So much so we spend less time doing. I’m a firm believer in progress over perfection. Let your plan get contact with the enemy so you can see what’s working and what’s not – refine and adjust. This mantra of failing up so we can improve quickly is a pillar of ours here at Lake One. But when the rubber hits the road, what are some reasons you might be failing to hit your marketing goals laid out in your plan? Here are a few of the common causes we see often.

Marketing and sales goals were unclear


No matter how large or efficient your organization, goals need to be crystal clear so everyone marches the same direction. Setting sales and marketing objectives that are abstract or open to interpretation leaves your organization at risk of running in too many directions. I remember as a young marketer working in a startup. The organization had a company-wide goal to develop an “enviable reputation.” But what that meant and how we supported that goal varied greatly across the organization. For me in marketing, it was about elevating our brand and thought leadership to a global stage. In product and development – it was about having a stable platform. At the end of the quarter, both things happened but did we really, measurably achieve the company’s goal? I still don’t know.

Takeaway: make sure that your goals are clear and measurable. Everyone should know exactly what output is desired in terms of timing and the deliverable. Consider the SMART Goal Framework. Check out our free SMART Goal Template to get started.

Goals were unrealistic


Part of setting SMART goals is making sure they are realistic. Moonshot goals are awesome – they inspire people to believe in something bigger than themselves. Think JFK landing a man on the moon. It was audacious – at the time was it realistic? Maybe, maybe not, but it was inspirational none the less.

When it comes to sales and marketing goals you want less moonshot more cowbell.

What I mean is imagine you have a bell that gets rung every time a goal is crushed. You want that bell ringing a lot – to encourage your team to keep achieving. Setting attainable goals means that bell has a higher probability of getting rung. The American Psychological Association points to setting attainable goals as a key factor in building resilience. Sales and marketing folks face many challenges – being resilient in the face of those challenges only means you will stand to be more successful in the future.

You lost sight of your buyer


Somewhere along the way, the buyer went out of focus. Blogs became more we focused and less they focused. We started talking about the things we thought mattered. This is one of the most common areas we see marketing fall off the rails. You spend all this time developing a customer-centric plan – only to toss the insights and data to create a program on what you want to write about, grounded in no research or feedback from customers or prospects.

When marketing stops being buyer focused, prospects stop engaging because your marketing isn’t relevant anymore. Therefore, – you don’t stand a chance at reaching your goals.

You were distracted


There are a million things we can try. But time is finite. If you have $38 and you go to a casino and place a $1 bet on every pocket at the roulette wheel you mitigate your risk but neuter your upside.

You have to pick a few things to focus on – find your path of the least resistance and optimize these areas while adding to your marketing capacity over time. Unless, you are an organization with endless resources – finding marketing tracking takes focus. PS: Great read on this here.

You forfeited the long term for the short term


In a healthy organization, sales focuses on the short-term and marketing focuses on the long term. When marketing gets pushed into short-term tactics (like buying email lists and spamming people – don’t do that) your output fails.

Yes, marketing takes time to build a brand and demand. I’m saying it again.

But building a strong relationship with a healthy pipeline pays dividends. A database filled with people who love you and your content is far more valuable than a bunch of unsuspecting saps who are going to be frustrated by your irrelevant and unsolicited emails. 

As countries around the world change the way they view privacy, data and spam – marketing needs to focus on being kind and build high-value relationships.

You yielded to the Hippo

The HIPPO is the highest paid person’s opinion and they can be disastrous for a marketing program. Often, they make decisions with little regard for data. They tend to micromanage the creative process and make it difficult to iterate quickly through a campaign to get to the performance and review portion of a campaign.

They almost are always, are not marketers.



You were impatient

We launched a blog yesterday. We don’t have new customers today. Therefore, the whole plan is not working – we should throw it out.

Data is a tricky thing. We have ready access to gobs and gobs and gobs of data points. But data for data sake – ain’t nobody got time for that.



Looking at your marketing activity at a micro level and making sweeping decisions is risky. It takes time to build a brand. It takes time to build demand. Even the big “growth-hacking” successes you hear about where a company unlocks massive growth channels comes after dozens of failures and weeks and weeks of testing and efforts building over time.

Be thoughtful about your performance – for sure. But trust the process and make sure the trend is heading the right way.

Final word

Of course, there are myriad reasons we can fail to hit our goals. Our friends over at Authentic Brand point out a few more reasons why your marketing muscle might be weak. From budget to message misalignment there are a lot of places for marketing to miss the mark and goal hitting to suffer. What common trends do you see in missed marks? Leave us a reply.

Smart Goals Worksheet Template

Ultimate Guide to Setting SMART Marketing Goals

Goal setting. The words either strike terror into every fiber of your being, or you tingle with excitement. All drama aside, like it or love it – goal setting is a critical component of modern, measurable marketing. But how do you even get started setting marketing goals? What do you track? What should your goals be? Especially if you’re starting from zero.

We’re going to explore all this and more in this guide to setting SMART marketing goals. 

Download the SMART marketing goal worksheet to fill out as you follow along. 

SMART Marketing Goals Template - Lake One

Getting acquainted with SMART goal methodology

Let’s make sure we’re on the same page here. When I’m talking about goals, I mean SMART goals. Our friends at Hubspot define SMART goals as Specific – Measurable – Attainable – Relevant – Timely.

Let’s see what this means by looking at an example.  Let’s say you’re a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) company that sells to a variety of industries. You have a goal to get more clients for your business. Noble. But the goal is lacking. It leaves a lot to the imagination. Following the SMART methodology we can refine this marketing goal as follows.

Make marketing goals specific

Goals need to be clearly articulated and easily understood. Nebulous goals that are lost in translation make it very difficult to get large teams aligned around a common cause.

In our example, a SaaS company selling to multiple industries, we can be more specific by clarifying what type of clients, do we want trial clients, enterprise, and specifically – what personas or industries are we pursuing?  

We can get specific with something like: Get more enterprise hospitality clients for our business.

Better. Let’s continue building this goal.

Make marketing goals measurable

When we build our goals we want to make sure we can measure progress against it. So far, we’re just saying what we want – more clients, but how many do we want? 1, 1000?

A measurable marketing goal looks like: Gain 3 more enterprise hospitality clients for our business.


But how are we going to do this? Magic? Our goal needs to outline our plan to gain these clients. Something like:

Something like: Gain 3 more enterprise hospitality clients for our business by growing organic traffic and inbound leads through new content strategy like blogs and placing thought leadership articles.

Much better!

Make goals attainable

Okay, reality check! Is this metric realistic? How many new hospitality clients are we getting right now? Turns out we’re only getting 4 new clients a year, 1/quarter. Okay. So we have a gut check. We can gauge the rest of the goal setting process against attainability.

Make goals relevant

Does getting more hospitality clients matter? Is it important to our mission or reflect our values?

Make goals time-bound

Finally, the last step in building your SMART marketing goals is to check to pull it all together. Goals need to be time bound. When are these 3 new customers coming in. Knowing our current performance, we’re only gaining .33 customers/ month. Unless we’re investing a lot, a 10x increase isn’t attainable. But a 3x increase could be. Knowing we’re getting 1 new customer a quarter, we decide to set our goal on a quarter timetable.

Our final SMART marketing goal would look like: Gain 3 new enterprise hospitality clients for our business quarterly, by growing organic traffic and inbound leads through new content strategy like blogs and placing thought leadership articles.

Now that we’re on the same page about the type of goals we’re setting, let’s look a bit more at some other ways to choose what to measure.

ultimate guide to setting SMART marketing goals

Choosing what to measure in our SMART marketing goals

The question I get asked the most often is what should my marketing goals measure? The simple answer is to follow your funnel. Your goals, when defined need to be aligned to your business objectives. But from a marketing perspective – the what and how comes from looking at your funnel. Sure, we can say we’re going to grow sales but our goals get more specific, attainable and relevant when we break down the funnel. I’m going to do this backward.

Related Articles:

Follow the funnel to set your metrics

Sales – Assuming you know what your traditional sales benchmarks are, you can set SMART goals around your current sales numbers. First, make sure to set something that’s attainable, moving the needle from 5 – 10 a month for example. Once we set our sales goal, we move up the funnel to see how marketing is going to help make that happen. 

Leads – What is your lead to customer conversion rate?  5%, 10 %, 50%? Don’t know? To answer this, answer the question – how many of the trials or lead gen forms that get filled out – end up buying from you? With this number,  you can back into the number of leads marketing needs to drive to support the business need of more sales.

Let’s say you have a 33%  lead to customer conversion rate. Knowing this, we take our target customer (10) divide by our lead to customer conversion rate (.33) and get a goal for leads of 30.

10/.33 = 30

But we can get even more specific. How much traffic will marketing need to generate to support this lead volume to achieve these sales goals?

Traffic – You already can probably tell where I am going with this – but do we know our top level conversion metric/ Traffic to Lead? Let’s say its 5%. Same math.

We have a goal of 30 Leads / Conversion rate (.05) we need 600 visits a month.

30/.05 = 600

So to achieve our corporate goal of 10 new customers – marketing goals need to align around driving the commensurate amount of leads and traffic – and now we know how much: 600 visits a month and nurture and convert traffic to drive 30 leads a month. 

But what do we do if we have no numbers to start with?

Setting SMART marketing goals when you have no benchmarks

Sometimes businesses find themselves in situations where they have no benchmarks to start setting marketing goals. Either they are brand new or they’ve never been tracking performance. That’s okay – no one freak out. Setting measurable goals is still possible. Just be comfortable with the fact that you may need to revise goals down or up based on how hard or easy you find achieving them.

Using industry benchmarks

conversion rate benchmark report
conversion rate benchmark report from Unbounce

One of the best ways to get started is to look at industry benchmarks. It’s also a good way to see how well you’re performing against peers. The key is to pick goals that relevant to your business at this stage. Are we looking to drive bottom of the funnel metrics like sales and leads? Check out this benchmark report from Unbounce. Are we more interested in building awareness and growing traffic at the top of the funnel? This data from WordStream helps to start getting ourselves situated with what to expect.

Who should be part of the marketing goal setting process

When setting you SMART marketing goals you want to make sure you bring together everyone who has skin in the game. In other words, who has an opinion about revenue? At a minimum that’s going to be sales, your marketing team, finance and executive leadership.

This group can ensure that all five components of the SMART methodology are being considered and aligned to business needs during planning.

How frequently should we set goals

The frequency you set your SMART marketing goals really depends on a couple of things. The timeline of your goals and your budget/planning cycle.

  • In the example above we set a quarterly sales goal, in this example, you’d set this goal annually and check it quarterly on performance.
  • At a minimum, you want to set goals annually – however, if your budget and plan on a semi-annual basis – goal setting more frequently can be beneficial.


Last word

How often are you setting goals? What questions do you have about the goal-setting process? What lessons have you learned that you’d like to share? Leave a comment here.