- By Amy Kenigsberg, COO & Co-founder of K2 Global Communications
When only 61% of marketers believe their marketing strategy is effective, and 58% of marketers are struggling to target or segment their audience, it behoves you to ask: How can marketers get smarter about marketing strategy?
The answer is goal setting, and more specifically – SMART goals setting. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound.
One of the most difficult marketing tasks, it is, nevertheless, the one effort that can help marketers focus, get motivated to succeed, and prove just how successful they are.
SMART goals ground your marketing hopes and dreams in reality, control your team’s work direction, and provide the benchmarks for future marketing plans.
SMART is more than just an acronym; it’s a proven goal-setting framework that helps companies and individuals set and achieve realistic objectives.
Do SMART goals really work?
An article by Clifford Chi in HubSpot mentions a study in which 76 percent of the participants who actually wrote down their goals, the actions they took to achieve those goals, and weekly progress reports achieved said goals – 33 percent higher than those who didn’t bother to put them to paper. He also details a US poll he conducted with roughly 300 respondents in which 52 percent said using a SMART framework helped them achieve their goals more often than if they didn’t use such a framework.
Ten reasons why SMART marketing goals are so effective:
- Create team cohesion by working toward a unified purpose.
- Provide clear direction and sharpen focus.
- Determine which data collection protocols to use to reach your marketing goals.
- Prioritize tasks and increase team productivity.
- Help your team become more organized and make their progress more trackable.
- Achieve clear communication and a more aligned and motivated team who knows how their individual efforts contribute to a larger goal.
- Know the exact roadmap toward your goal – and when/where the finish line will be.
- Save time because all activities will be goal-oriented.
- Evaluate the success of your efforts and lessons learned in terms of strengths and areas for improvement.
- Avoid failure by setting too general or too-unrealistic goals.
Dos and don’ts to help you start the journey of your SMART goals
Writer’s block can impact even the best professional wordsmiths, so here are a few pointers that’ll help you overcome that hurdle as you do your SMART goal writing exercises:
- Use active words that entice readers to act – words like start, deliver, cut, speed up.
- Give your smart goals meaning and value for the customer.
- Be ambitious but also realistic.
- Write SMART goals that reflect where you want to take your brand/company.
- Be clear, specific, and granular, even if you have to overdo it.
- Include reasonable KPIs that are neither too high nor too low.
- Align goals with overarching organizational goals.
- Use vague, confusing, and big-picture language.
- Mix up dreams and solid, realistic, measurable, timeline-oriented goals (or luck with real effort).
- Be afraid of failure to reach your goal; instead, plan on how you can go around roadblocks.
- Confuse ‘wish,’ ‘want,’ or ‘desire’ with a goal that you clearly intend to attain.
- Make too large or too broad a goal – smaller, more specific objectives are more likely to be achieved.
- Lose sight of your core business.
- Forget the importance of prioritization to avoid being overwhelmed.
Examples: Five SMART goals for small businesses
- Increase positive customer reviews by 25 percent in 12 months.
- Increase sales cold calls by 5 percent within six months.
- Develop a marketing plan for a new product in 4 weeks.
- Take control of finances by paying off 50 percent of business debt in 24 months.
- Grow market share for your top product line b 10 percent in the NE market in 1 year.
Examples: 5 SMART goals for business development
- Cut down operational costs by ten percent by moving to a more affordable area.
- Increase customer response time by 50 percent by increasing trained personnel from five to ten.
- Improve operational efficiency by automating three major production processes.
- Increase potential bank customers by opening up five new branches in underserved areas.
- Reduce employee turnover from 15 percent to five percent through improved training and new reward systems.
Here’s a simple SMART goals template to make goal setting easier (and effective):
|What It Means||Why It’s Important||Tip
|Specific||Precisely define your goal/s.||It gives you a far greater chance of achieving your goal than if your goal were vague, unclear, or imprecise.||Answer the who, what, why, where, and when of your goal.
|Measurable||Tie your goals to specific success metrics.||It lets you know how you’re progressing and if you’re on track to teaching your goal.||Ask yourself: How will I know when I’ve achieved my goal?|
|Achievable||Determine ways you can realize your goal, given your resources.||It gives your team the encouragement and drives to realize your goal.||List the knowledge, skills, and abilities you’ll need so your goals will neither be too easy nor too unrealistic.|
|Relevant||Make sure your marketing goals align with your business’ overall objective.||Eliminates unnecessary or immaterial work that could detract from what’s really important.||Adjust your SMART goal statement to reflect the company’s bottom-line goal – whether it’s rebranding, increasing app usage, or increasing customer loyalty.|
|Time-bound||Make sure your goal has a deadline for being achieved.||It motivates you and gives you a sense of urgency toward achieving your goal.||Establish long-term deadlines as well as short-term milestones to help you see your progress.|
It’s not enough to set SMART goals; you also have to increase the likelihood of achieving them.
- Set goals you can control – or at least ones your department can control
- Make sure your goals can adapt to fit changing market situations or business environments
- Track your goals and connect them to your team’s daily output
- Share your SMART goals with other project and company stakeholders
- Establish regular problem-solving meetings
- Create marketing goals that complement, not detract from, each other
- Align your SMART goals with your marketing budget
- Make sure your team members have the resources to achieve your SMART goals
SMART goal examples of living by
If you’re still unsure how to adapt the SMART goals framework to your business – these examples – of SMART vs. Not-So-Smart goals – can help:
SMART goals for your blog
Not-so-smart Goal -Increase blog readership.
Specific: Achieve a 10% increase in traffic by increasing publishing frequency from three posts per week to five posts per week.
Measurable: Metric – total visits to a blog post.
Attainable: Our blog writer can write three instead of two posts per week, while our editor can add two posts to her editing duties.
Relevant: Our overall marketing objective is to generate more sales leads for our new app. The more blogs dealing with our app benefits and uses, the greater the traffic and sales opportunities.
Time-bound: End of the month.
SMART goals for your customer support team
Not-so-smart Goal -Make more customers happy.
Specific: Achieve an 80% to 90% customer satisfaction rate in three months.
Measurable: Metrics – customer satisfaction score, post-service customer surveys.
Attainable: With a newly approved budget, we can add two more members to our customer support team and increase training.
Relevant: Increased customer satisfaction promotes the company’s stated goal of customer retention and, subsequently, better sales.
Time-bound: three-month timeframe.
SMART goals for your webinar signups
Not-so-smart Goal – Get more people to sign up.
Specific: Achieve a 25% increase in signups via promotion in social media, email, website, and blogs.
Measurable: Metrics – the percentage of your social media/blog/web site’s visitors and email recipients that sign up in response to your marketing campaign.
Attainable: The previous webinar saw a 10% increase in signups with a Facebook-only promotion.
Relevant: More webinar signups mean more sales leads and potentially more closed sales.
Time-bound: By the day of the webinar (two months).
Your SMART first step: Sign up with a proven-successful marketing agency
The marketing strategy is the heart and soul of your campaign – directly impacting the way you run your business and setting the overall direction of your marketing efforts. It needs to be focused, well-planned, well-informed, comprehensive, measurable, and medium- to long-term. The critical first step is identifying your goals.
Make your job easier by partnering with a marketing expert who can help you align these goals with your overall business objectives, super-target them to make it easier to measure success, and ensure they meet the SMART criteria for goal-setting – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-limited.
About the Author
Amy Kenigsberg is COO and Co-founder of K2 Global Communications, an inbound content, PR, and social media marketing agency. Her intuitive grasp of technology and her inherent understanding of technology let her translate the how what and whys of solutions into clearly focused “What’s-in-it-for-me” communications.
She spent the early part of her career as a journalist, so she understands the needs of the media. Nicknamed ‘the bulldog’ by a client, she’s renowned for her tenacity in reaching your target audiences. When not at the office, she’s reading, exercising, and managing a family of five. Amy holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and an MBA from the University of Kansas.