We all have goals for our business or our personal life, even if those goals only live in our heads. If I were to ask you right now, “What are your goals for next year?” could you even tell me? You might have a few ideas, but nothing concrete.
Mainly, you need to have a plan with goals in mind — the same way you operate your business. Granted, there will be times when marketing can be nebulous and unpredictable, but this is an even better reason to have a plan; work it, and determine what’s working and what’s not.
In this article, we will go through some solid steps for creating the plan that you need by using SMART goals. SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time based.
Research shows that marketers who set SMART goals are 376% more likely to report success than those who don’t! How motivating is that? That’s solid proof of the importance of strategizing your goals in the right way.
This same study found that marketers who write down the process they plan to take to achieve their goal are 466% more likely to report being successful.
The Importance of Writing Down Your Goals
You must write down your goals. There is proof that those who write down their goals are much more likely to achieve them.
A study by the Harvard Business Review showed that:
- 83% of the population does not have goals.
- 14% have a plan in mind, but fail to have it written down.
- 3% have goals written down.
However, the study went on to find that 14% of those who had goals were 10 times more successful than those without them. The 3% of the people who had goals written down were 3 times more successful than the 14% who hadn’t written down their goals.
There is a method for writing down your goals, which is more than merely scribbling them on a napkin. You need to begin with a plan. Although that plan may change, you always need to start with at least one. And, one of the best ways to create a solid marketing plan is with the SMART process.
The Value of SMART Goals
Goals are essential because they give us a foundation and a clear understanding of what we hope to accomplish. Without defined objectives, we just go from one activity to the next without giving much thought to the overall picture. With SMART goals, we can create a successful strategy for achieving them.
SMART goals can also give you a sense of direction, a specific way to achieve them. By making these kinds of SMART goals, you set yourself up for an organized way of reaching them. If you aren’t very organized, that’s not a problem, because setting up a SMART goal can help you put things in order in an effortless manner.
Use the SMART parameters as you build your business goals, market to your target audience, and grow your online influence. By creating these types of objectives, you are putting yourself in the right place at the right time, and you are heading in the right direction.
Start out by creating specific marketing goals. What do you want to accomplish when marketing your business? What is your dream for your business?
Sometimes it’s easiest to think big and broad than it is to be specific. If you say you want to have a successful marketing year, that’s not going to cut it. If your goal is too broad, you won’t be able to tell if you’ve achieved it or not.
You need to set specific parameters; use numbers in your goal, and be as specific as you can. With a specific goal, you can see if you have reached it, and you’ll know the details you hope to accomplish. The details matter. In fact, they can make all the difference in the world.
For example, you could say, “I want to increase my social media following.” But, if you are more specific, you could say, “I want to increase my Facebook following by 50%.” That’s a much more attainable, measurable goal – an objective you can tell if you have met or not.
Think about what you specifically hope to accomplish. If you are having trouble deciding what you want to accomplish, have a brainstorming session with your team. You may even want to bring in a marketing consultant to help.
As the saying goes, “That which gets measured, gets improved.” Often, we set goals that are not trackable. You need to know where you are now and where you want to be in the future.
Using the same Facebook example, you need to know how many followers you currently have and how many you want to have by the end of the year. If you don’t currently have any metrics, now is the time to start building them.
After all, you have to start somewhere. With platforms like Facebook and Twitter, you can go back in time to see what you have done in the past. You need to find and use a good analytics platform to measure this information; and, which platform you choose will depend on what you are measuring. Sometimes a good old spreadsheet works just fine.
Setting big goals is good. We often do this when creating life goals. You want to always stretch yourself, but if you set unrealistic objectives, you will get discouraged because you won’t be able to achieve them.
You want to set objectives that you can attain, things you know are achievable. If you aim too high, you set yourself up for failure.
Keep in mind that you don’t want to set goals that are too easy, either. Push yourself a little bit. The important thing is to find the right balance.
Create something big enough that it will make a difference and challenge you to push the envelope a little. Finding the right balance often requires us to reevaluate our goals from time to time.
If you have 20 Facebook followers, it is probably not realistic to set your goal for the following month to 20,000 new followers. However, it is also not ideal to set your goal for an increased following to be just 2 more followers in a month.
Instead, set your attainable goal to be to gain 10 more followers per month. If you crush that goal, you can reset your it to be 15 more followers in the next month. Keep evaluating until you know what kind of results are attainable for you.
Make sure your objectives matter. Create SMART goals aimed for the right audience for you and your field. If you don’t reach your target audience, your marketing efforts won’t matter.
If you have a company that makes a small electrical component for smartphones, and you only sell to large phone manufacturers, getting more Facebook followers is not where you should be spending your marketing efforts. Facebook users would not be the right audience for you. Instead, you need to focus on writing more white papers or research papers that engineers would read.
Do marketing research that is geared toward your customer base. Focus your content marketing on what your existing customer base likes, wants, and needs. What products and services do your potential customers want?
Make sure that you understand your potential customers and where they are. Market your content in a medium that they use in a place where they will find it. One good way to do this is through inbound marketing.
You don’t want to push content on your customers. Instead, publish content that will attract and pull them gently in. They should want to come to you.
Now that you have objectives that you can accomplish, and you know that accomplishing them will be beneficial, you need a timeline. When do you plan to reach your objectives? Often, we have goals that are interdependent on each other.
Let’s look at that Facebook example again. You might decide that your ultimate goal is to have 1,000 new followers by the end of the year. That breaks down to about 84 followers each month. That number of followers per month is much more attainable.
By having this time frame for your goal, you can track how well you are doing much easier. I would recommend breaking it down by week. That way, to reach a goal of 1,000 new followers in a year, you would need approximately 20 new followers a week. This is a much more reasonable objective.
You should now have a clear understanding of SMART goals – how to make them and how to achieve them. Use these goal parameters as a guide to help you reach your ultimate marketing destination. If you are serious about achieving success, you should be serious about creating SMART goals.
Need a little more guidance on how to generate and maintain SMART goals? Download our Marketing SMART Goals template to help you create your own marketing goals for the year.
If you need help discovering what your marketing goals should be or how to accomplish them, Angry Ape Creative can help. Don’t put off creating SMART marketing goals; having them leads to success. Contact us now to see how we can help you find the right solutions for you.
Jay Bilunas is a graphic designer and marketing consultant. He loves helping small businesses succeed with great marketing and design. He also teaches and tries to help up and coming designers.