I will understand if you think that I am having a mid-year resolutions crisis this week, and I will forgive you if you were put off this post merely by its title.  But please read on as I am not going to ask you to stop smoking, join the gym and give up chocolate because that would be unrealistic, but if I asked you to do one do you think you could manage it?

My point is, how do you know what a realistic goal to set yourself or your business is?

The Dictionary states that a goal is  “a pair of posts linked by a crossbar and typically with a net between, forming a space into or over which the ball has to be sent in order to score…”

But when it comes to life and business, there is no room for playing games so what do I mean by a goal in a marketing sense?

I am going to start with a little regression therapy, cast your mind back to the post about creating a marketing plan (here is the link if you can’t remember)…

A good marketing plan will be based upon the desired business goals and objectives and outline how marketing will support them. But before you can set goals, it is important to first have a clear understanding of the difference between marketing goals, strategies and tactics in order to build a proper plan.

Definition of Marketing Objectives and Goals

The objectives and goals of a marketing plan should be closely aligned with the goals and objectives of a business.

A marketing objective is a mission or purpose on which all marketing plans will be based. Objectives are actually broader in scope than goals and may even be comprised of several different goals. Examples of marketing objectives for a business may include:

  • Becoming an industry leader in your market

  • Offering new products that are innovative in your market

  • Becoming the most renowned business in your field

In other words, they are the bigger picture objectives that are not specific with figures or achievement targets. This is where goals come in…

A marketing goal is defined as a desired result or specific achievement which leads to reaching an objective. Typically a goal is a measurable result, and because goals are quantitative, a business can always clearly answer whether or not a marketing goal was met with a simple yes or no.

Examples of marketing goals for a business may include:

  • Increase sales turnover by 20%

  • Improve customer loyalty and retention by 10%

  • Launch three new product lines

  • Acquire 10,000 new monthly subscribers

  • Gain 5% market share

Now that we know what marketing goals and marketing objectives are, how do you go about setting them and setting realistic goals for our business?

When setting goals, I always think of the acronym SMART. A SMART goal is five things –Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. Let’s break it down:

Specific: First things first, your goals need to be specific so instead of saying “we want to increase the number of visits to our website,” say “we want to drive 1000 visits to our website each month.” If your goals are specific, there should be no question as to whether or not you achieve them. As I say above, a goal being achieved or not should be answerable by yes or no.

Measurable: If you can’t measure your success in relation to your goals, your goals aren’t set right. Likewise, you always need to be sure you’re tracking and evaluating the right data, so don’t get too hung up on unimportant metrics and focus only on the metrics that actually matter to your business. What I am saying is that to enable goals to be set, it is important to establish your KPIs in order to measure performance.

Attainable: Yes, you may want a million visitors to your website, but if you’re getting 100 now, setting a goal of 1 million is not very attainable. Depending on the industry you are in, it may never be! Set challenging goals (goals that are too easy are a waste of time too), but make them do-able. Relating back to previous performance and building in a percentage increase is a good way of doing this. E.G you had 100 visits last month, aim for 20% more this month and set 120 as your goal.

Relevant: Similarly, irrelevant goals aren’t useful. Let’s say you are a business to business marketer selling specialist IT software to very conservative companies. Setting a goal of securing 5,000 Twitter followers is not a relevant goal as your target customer is likely not using Twitter. Even if you achieved your goal of 5,000 Twitter followers, would that really impact your sales? If not, it’s definitely not a relevant goal. Be realistic in your goal setting, and make sure your goals are also relevant to your business, your industry and current trends.

Timely: Your goals also need to have time frames attached to them. Give yourself a deadline otherwise you’ll never feel the pressure to achieve your goals, and you’ll never have a timeline to measure against. Weekly, monthly, quarterly and annually are usually a good way to break down the time frame of goals.

Setting SMART goals is the first step in making sure your goals are achievable.  I know it can sound daunting but you set and meet goals every day!

Getting to work on time, answering all your emails, doing the food shopping and having dinner ready by 7…these are all goals.  So the next time a goal flusters you, think about how much you actually achieve on a daily basis.  Go you!

Enough about goals for today. Next week, I will further embrace the world cup and all it entails, and talk about how to take advantage of trends in both your marketing and social media.

Setting Realistic Goals

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