UNB Marketing Blog
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What are strategic objectives and why do I need them

Author: Marketing

Posted on Mar 27, 2018


Strategic objectives lay the foundation for any successful marketing plan. In this post we’ll discuss how to identify SMART objectives and how to choose key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure success. It’s important to take the time to put these down on paper before jumping into the fun stuff — posters, videos, creating social media accounts, etc. Why? Because we need to know what we want to achieve in order to determine whether we’ve been successful. Pro tip: No matter the project, your strategic objectives should align with the overall business objectives of your unit/faculty/department. setting-smart-objectives

Setting SMART Objectives

Where do we begin? With the SMART acronym. SMART stands specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. Let’s walk through an example: There’s an event coming up that’s strategically important to your unit and it’s your responsibility to drive attendance.


Objectives need to be specific. They give you a clear roadmap to develop the rest of your marketing plan. The first step in driving attendance to the event is generating awareness. Let’s get specific. Who is our primary audience? Are we trying to reach students, faculty, staff or external community members?


Objectives need to be measurable — how else will we know if they’re met? How much awareness do we need to generate to meet our attendance goal? If we know from research or previous years that 10% of those who are aware actually attend and we need 100 attendees — then we know we need to reach 1,000 people. Now that we have set our strategic objectives, how will we monitor their progress? With key performance indicators (KPIs), of course! KPIs are metrics that advise you of your progress. You could have a number of KPIs within a given objective that are used to measure how close you are to achieving your objective. In our example, we could have KPIs related to social media reach, email open rates, website traffic, video views, etc. Let’s look at website traffic. If we know that need 100 unique sessions on the webpage per week to meet our objective, then we can monitor our progress in Google Analytics to ensure we’re staying on track. If we’re only getting 75 unique sessions, then we know there are adjustments that need to be made.


Objectives need to be achievable. It’s great to have a specific, measurable objective of reaching 1,000 people, but is that an achievable goal? Do we have the budget to meet this objective? How much awareness was generated in the past? Do we have the resources to dedicate if we get an influx of requests? Let’s assume that we have the budget, resources and a history of successful awareness generation. It’s safe to assume the objective is achievable.


Objectives need to be relevant. Is it worthwhile for our faculty/department/unit? Is it the right time to execute? This is where aligning your objectives to the overall objectives of your faculty/department/unit. We know our objective is relevant because it was outlined as a strategic objective for the unit and fits within a marketer’s role.


Objectives need to be time-bound. Will this objective live on in forever? Of course not. There needs to be a defined timeline in order to measure success. Does this objective need to be met in a month? A year? Over multiple years? We know there is a specific date for the event, so the objective will need to be met on or before that date.

Putting it all together

We made it! When we add up our SMART analysis, we’re left with the strategic objective of: Generating awareness for our event, by reaching 1,000 people before X date.  So now we’ve used the SMART method to define our objectives and chosen KPIs to monitor success. What’s next? Setting up your positioning strategy and key messages. We’ll learn about this in the next blog post in this series — stay tuned!

Any questions?

Do you have any questions about what you’ve read? Send us a note at brand@unb.ca. We’d love to chat with you.