SMART marketing goals are a must! So, why aren't you setting SMART goals? Marketingprofs did some research on this and found that only 35% of B2B marketers have written SMART marketing content goals. They also found that marketers with written SMART goals are eight times more likely (60% vs. 7%) to rate themselves as being effective marketers vs. those who have no strategy, written or otherwise.
What Are SMART Marketing GOALS?
In 1981, management scholar George T. Doran wrote a paper in Management Review called, "There's a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management's goals and objectives." He introduced the S.M.A.R.T. objective-setting method using an acronym to help managers set goals. Over time, Mr. Doran's methodology has grown into the methodology we use today with our clients.
Goals are are essential to your business' success. To be effective though, your goals need to be realistic. That's why we advocate setting SMART goals. Here's what I mean when I say you need to set a SMART marketing goal:
- Specific -- Do set real numbers with real deadlines. Don't say, "I want more visitors."
- Measurable -- Do make sure you can track your goal. Don't hide behind buzzwords like "brand engagement" or "social engagement."
- Attainable -- Do work toward a goal that is challenging but possible. Don't try to take over the world in one night.
- Realistic -- Do be honest with yourself, because you know what you and your team are capable of. Don't forget any hurdles you may have to overcome.
- Time-bound -- Do give yourself a deadline. Don't keep pushing toward a goal you might hit "someday."
First, download your free marketing goal-setting template (created by our friends at HubSpot) here; then learn how to use it effectively by following along in this post.
Set Specific Goals
Consider setting revenue goals as well as brand-specific goals. These types of goals tell your team how they should prioritize their efforts. These goals must be specific as they set the tone for your marketing for the entire year. A revenue goal can be something like sell 10% more widgets. And a brand related goal might be something like become the thought leader in the retirement planning industry. This may be harder to measure, but certainly worth tracking.
Maybe you want to set social media marketing goals. You could increase Facebook comments and shares by 10% and use a tool like HubSpot or Hootsuite to track this goal. Maybe your goal is to increase Facebook likes by 5%, or increase post reach by 5%.
Every business wants to increase website traffic. Be sure to set specific goals for this. And, remember, your social media marketing efforts can help with this while those efforts are helping you:
- Demonstrate thought leadership within your industry
- Provide customers with a place to go for customer service issues to be handled
- Perform competitive research
- Turn current customers into brand advocates
Maybe you want to focus on that last bullet-point. Instead of focusing on business development, you may want to focus your social media efforts on moving those happy customers who have been "Wowed" by your product or service and your customer service into brand ambassadors and referral sources.
Don't Set a Goal You Can't Measure
Think about revenue generated, number of products sold or number of new clients you obtain from your marketing efforts. If your goals are not measurable, how will you determine success or your return on investment (ROI)?
Your Goals Must Be Attainable
Don't set a SMART goal that isn't attainable. This doesn't do you any good at all. Remember, your business' growth is a journey, not a destination. And, it doesn't happen overnight. When you are developing your SMART marketing goals don't ignore history. If your historic Twitter Follower growth is 5% annually, don' set a SMART goal to increase Twitter Followers by 10% every quarter.
Attainable goals can motivate the team responsible for achieving those goals. Unattainable goals are bad for morale. Attainable goals also help when setting budgets for the coming quarter or year. Many people find that setting the goals is easy. Determining whether you can attain the goal may be a challenge. Keep in mind, you don't want to set goals you can't attain. But, you also don't want to set goals that are too easily attained. You might find this task to be a little more time-consuming than your thought.
Set Realistic Goals
There is a difference between attainable SMART goals and realistic goals. You may have the momentum to bring in a significant number of new clients, but you may not have the staff in place to provide the highest level of service possible. So, set realistic SMART goals that take into consideration historical averages so they are realistic.
I think setting realistic goals provides you with an opportunity to engage with your team. Get some input from your team as to whether they think a goal is realistic. Remember, it is the team that will be implementing the plan and carrying out the tasks required to meet the SMART goal.
Timing Is Everything
Your SMART Marketing Plan has a beginning and an ending date. It may begin next quarter and end when your fiscal year ends. Or, you may set annual goals. To allow you to do the proper tracking involved in a successful marketing campaign you must set the timeframe. This allows you to analyze the results of your efforts on a regular basis and then tweak the plan if necessary to meet your goals.
Read that last sentence again. I'm not a fan of changing your goals mid-stream. I am a fan of analyzing the data and being flexible enough to change the tactics you are using to meet the goal. Remember, it is also very important to effectively communicate your marketing effort's results. Evaluating, analyzing and then effectively presenting the information and data you've collected is vital.
When you set a SMART goal, think about how much time it will take to achieve that goal and how much time you have to commit to achieving the goal. It's okay to fill your marketing plan with both short-term and long-term goals. Just know what you're doing when you do it. You might also want to schedule a few of those short-term goals for the beginning of the plan so you get some early "Wins" that motivate and energize your team going forward.
Be sure to recognize the fact that there are always potential obstacles that get in the way of achieving the SMART marketing goals we set. Think about those as you are developing the plan. No one like these types of surprises. Preparing for the hurdles now is going to make it easier to achieve success.
Be Prepared to Do It All Over Again
Using this SMART goal framework will result in your team being more focused. Measuring your progress will make your team more effective. Setting the time in which a goal is to be attained will make your team more efficient. So, when the plan is completed, don't just throw it away and start from scratch. Use the template you downloaded to set another goal and then another goal.
SMART goal setting is an ever-changing process. There will be tactics that need to be refined. New challenges will pop up throughout the year. You may get half way through a plan and find you need to set some additional SMART goals. Keeping the lines of communication with your team open is critical. This way you set up the team and the company for success.
Final thought from the person who always insists on keeping the "Fun Meter" on 10. Set aside a small budget and appoint a few members of your team to plan some sort of celebration each time you reach one of your goals. Don't wait until the end of the year or the end of the entire plan. Celebrate each success as it happens and validate the plan itself as well as the efforts of your team.
Do you have anything to add to this post? If so, leave it in the Comments below.