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Why Defense Contractors Should Stop Marketing Without Goals

Do you want your defense firm's marketing to really break through? Tie your marketing to measurable business goals and the results will blow you away. 

defense contractor marketing goals

I’m worried. I talk to a lot of defense industry people. Especially marketing and business development folks.

And when we start talking about emerging, modern marketing tactics one of my first questions is about their company goals and objectives.

The reason I ask is because, ideally, all marketing should be linked to what a company is trying to achieve, particularly revenue goals.

What worries me is that a surprising number of defense industry marketing folks are telling me that their companies don’t have business goals. Or, if their company leadership has goals, the marketing types can’t seem to infer what they are.

For instance, is there a particular niche their company wants to exploit? Are there certain types of contracts they want to win more of? Do they want to diversify to other parts of the government or commercially? Overseas expansion?

Occasionally the marketing people are given vague direction like “do social media.” Or “let’s do some digital marketing.” “Let’s get our name out there.” As a former artilleryman, I refer to this marketing scenario as “Ready, Fire, Aim.”

One of the first questions that should be answered when planning marketing activities is: “How will we measure success?” Or, as the military says, “define victory.”

In the field artillery, there are just a few data points needed to provide devastating fire support. One is the location of the target on the map. If that is not available, the artillery only needs to know where the forward observer is, and his direction to and distance from the target. Without that information, however, the chances of effective fire support drop dramatically.

The same applies to marketing. Once a company has determined its goals and objectives, however rudimentary, marketing support can be aligned to help achieve them. Otherwise, the marketing activity becomes disjointed, episodic and resembles a “spray and pray” approach.

When I do workshops with companies, one of the most effective ways to get the goals and objectives process moving (or refined) is with a SWOT analysis.

SWOT stands for:

  • Strengths - What makes your company strong from the inside? You may have a unique product. You might have a well-established logistics network. You may have one of the best R&D divisions in your industry.
  • Weaknesses - What makes your company vulnerable from the inside? You might be slower to bring new products to market due to a cautious approach in R&D. You may have an outdated production facility. Is recruiting top talent a challenge?
  • Opportunities - Are there opportunities in the marketplace that you can exploit? You might have new markets opening up domestically or internationally. You might have a chance to expand your product line.
  • Threats - What threats are you facing in the marketplace? You might have a competitor coming out with an innovative product later this year. What is the legislative, budgetary climate?

My favorite graphic for a SWOT analysis is from Christopher S. Penn’s Marketing White Belt: Basics For the Digital Marketer

SWOT Analysis

Doing a SWOT analysis is a good way to get a deeper understanding of your company's place in your industry and the direction it should take. A management team discussion of those four areas for an hour will produce new findings and help with goals and objectives. It seems simple but it works.

Armed with the direction from a SWOT analysis, a defense contractors's marketing efforts will have much greater impact.

 photo credit: CAGuard via photopin cc

The Principal and Founder of Artillery, Douglas Burdett is a former artillery officer and Madison Avenue ad man. He also hosts The Marketing Book Podcast, where he interviews authors every week about the latest in modern marketing and sales.

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