Setting SMART Strategies

Five ways to know if your marketing goals are just awful

When you’re setting a marketing strategy, your first question should always be: What are my goals? Marketing goals provide a planned and focused direction, allowing you to allocate time, money and resources in the right places, and make investments that deliver ROIs.

But while most marketers understand that marketing goals are important, the truth is that some businesses will set goals that are, well… About as useful as a one-legged man at an arse-kicking competition, to be honest.

So how do you avoid making awful goals that don’t provide direction for your business? Simple — by keeping them SMART.

What is the SMART system?

The SMART goal-setting method is an acronym introduced by George T. Doran in 1981. “There’s a SMART way to write management’s goals and objectives”, he wrote in a paper in Management Review. And since then, marketers everywhere have adopted his system, which recommends five simple criteria for your objectives:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time Frame

By applying this system to your marketing strategies, you can create objectives that are effective, realistic, and profitable. Let’s explore these five separate principles and see how SMART your marketing goals are.

Specific

Setting unrefined goals is an easy way to lose focus and spread your resources too thin. Instead, target your efforts to a specific area for improvement. To create a tangible plan, try asking yourself these type of questions:

  • What do we hope to achieve?
  • Why are we trying to accomplish this? What are the benefits of this goal?
  • Are there any predicted obstacles or requirements?
  • Who is your target audience? How will you reach them?

This is the first step in creating a strategic and effective game plan for your marketing efforts. A specific goal is an attainable goal!

Example:

Not smart — Generate more leads for our business.

SMART — Secure 300 quarterly leads through inbound marketing efforts by June 30, 2017.

Measurable

The inability to measure your progress and success is a good indication that your goals are undefined. You should always have a way to determine if your efforts are effective. Consider:

  • Will you know when your goal is accomplished?
  • What are the quantifiable indicators of success?
  • Can you track your progress throughout?

We can use tools like Google Analytics, Google AdWords, Google Tag Manager, Webmasters Console, social media ad reports, and our impressive brains to create a marketing dashboard. With this, we can observe what is working well and decide where our time and money should be invested to achieve even greater results.

Example:

Not smart — Get more traffic on our website.

SMART — Increase web traffic by 30 percent by December 31, 2017.

Achievable

It’s important to dream big… but not too big. By that, we mean that your business goals should be set within the realm of possibilities with realistic expectations. Evaluate whether your goal is attainable:

  • How will we go about achieving the goal?
  • Do I have the time/resources/people-power to accomplish this goal?

Don’t set yourself up for failure. Your goals should not be easy, but nor should they be undoable. Instead, set challenging goals that can be broken down and analysed week-to-week; this not only helps to make the goal achievable, but measurable too.

Example:

Not smart — Gain 1,000,000 Facebook followers.

SMART — Increase total engagement (Page Likes, Post Likes, Comments, etc.) by 25 percent in six months. We will post at least three on-brand posts per week.

Relevant

Similarly, you should avoid setting superfluous objectives that don’t connect with your overall business goals. Analyse your goals and determine:

  • Does this goal matter? Is it worthwhile?
  • Is now the right time to invest time, money and energy into this goal?
  • Are my goals cohesive with my business plan?

Let’s say you’ve set the marketing goal of attending four sales and project management seminars this year, so that you are better positioned to increase your sales revenue. Innocuous enough, right? But what if you then learn that your manager has also set a business goal of reducing marketing costs? Suddenly your goal does not align with your company’s other objectives. Make sure your goals are relevant to your business, your audience, your industry, and current trends in the marketplace.

Example:

Not smart — Improve cost management skills.

SMART — Provide a monthly budget update to our executive team to ensure our costs stay within appropriations.

Time Frame

The goal of making $1,000,000 becomes a lot easier when you allow yourself a time frame of now until eternity. But of course, we don’t want easy; we want doable, accomplishable, and profitable. That means we must set our goals into a definitive and reasonable amount of time. Ask yourself:

  • When will I start working towards this goal?
  • When do I want to have achieved it by?
  • Do I have a time frame? A target date?
  • How frequently should we monitor our progress?

Deadlines can be powerful motivators. Open-ended goals come with a lack of urgency, making it easy to lose focus. Create a timeline for your goal before you start, and identify a time frame for smaller targets so you can accurately measure your success at each milestone.

Example:

Not smart — Earn more money through the online store.

SMART — Increase the average order of online sales to $55.00 per customer over the next 18 months, through the addition of 4 new products each quarter.

How SMART are your goals?

We all know that having a goal for your marketing efforts is important. But the real challenge is in setting these goals out in a cohesive, accomplishable and profitable way.

núcleo has been using their SMARTs for years to help all kinds of businesses achieve all kinds of goals. Whether you have some broad objectives that need refining, or aren’t sure where to begin, our team are ready to create success for your company.

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