A goal without a timeline is just a dream. — Robert Herjavec
Putting your marketing to work requires strategic organization. Otherwise, those goals you set languish in a notebook or — worse still — the back of your mind where you store the other good intentions.
If you are like me, a little structure goes a long way towards making those goals turn into accomplishments.
Make goal setting part of your corporate culture
We include marketing goals as part of our monthly process, for ourselves and for our clients. Putting a concrete number to traffic count goals, leads and conversions brings out the competitive side in all of us. And once we apply marketing analytics to those numbers, charts and graphs gamify trying to beat last month’s goals.
Make your goals SMART
We use the simple acronym S.M.A.R.T.
- Specific – Your goal should be unambiguous and communicate what is expected, why it is important, who’s involved, where it is going to happen and which constraints are in place
- Measurable – Your goal should have concrete criteria for measuring progress and reaching the goal
- Attainable – Your goal should be realistic and possible for your team to reach
- Relevant – Your goal should matter to your business and address a core initiative
- Timely – You should have an expected date that you will reach the goal
Use your goals to structure campaigns
The beauty of creating a specific marketing campaign is that you harness all the components of SMART goals to create action around a desired outcome. When your blog posts, social media, emails and any outbound messages all align to tell the same message, you multiply your success.
The discipline of creating a campaign around a specific goal automatically sorts your marketing data into categorized buckets and helps you track how your audience is responding.
Goals enable accurate measurement
Quantifying the outcomes you need for success in your small business enables you to accurately measure the analytics on your activity. Determining the ROI of your specific activities helps tweak future time allotment, marketing budgets and staffing.
When to re-evaluate goals
Setting concrete goals can be nerve-wracking: “What if we don’t hit them?” You need to create a corporate culture that values constant improvement as well as hitting your goals. We all know there are circumstances beyond your control that may impact the success of a campaign. Knowing your true analytics will help you determine if you made improvement during the SMART goal timeframe or whether this particular campaign just missed the mark.
Nichole DeMeré contributed to this discussion on inbound.org recently by illustrating how to recognize bad goals.
“This is what a bad goal-setting looks like:
- Setting fuzzy & poorly defined goals.
- Too goal driven – Your goal may come with a downside that you don’t see. Spend some time asking “If we achieve this goal, what is the worst thing that could happen?” and creating a second goal to address that possibility.
- Too rigid – You have to adjust your methods as new data comes in.
- Too many goals – Some people think that setting a goal will magically generate motivation. It doesn’t. Better to focus on one or two attainable goals at a time.
- Setting impossible goals – The object is to motivate, but the effect is the opposite. There’s a difference between setting big, audacious goals and impossible goals. You want to stretch with challenging goals, but you don’t want to set yourself up for failure.
- Measuring success with vanity metrics – You want metrics that are tied to specifics. Define failure as clearly as you define success.”
Specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely goals will give your goal-setting process the structure and timeline it needs to turn from a dream to a measurable reality that delivers repeatable ROI to your brand. Whether you use this formula or another in your marketing, making goal-setting an integral component of your campaign activities will yield results that lower your cost of lead acquisition and drive sales.