When SMART Goals Are Not Enough

Download Now: Free Marketing Plan Template
Marjorie Munroe
Marjorie Munroe



What comes to mind when you hear the word "goal"?


Maybe you think of the destination — the benefit of learning about the best ways to reach your prospects and creating awesome content to align with them.

Maybe you think of the journey — how every blog post, email, or social media post gradually builds momentum until your marketing campaign becomes an engine.

Maybe you just think of the now — the checklist for today and what you want to accomplish over your morning coffee.

Whatever it is, if you're a marketer, you're likely well aware of the goals you've set.

Now, reflect on the time and effort you've spent on accomplishing these efforts. Like a world traveler, you're well on your way to new and exciting places and don't want to end up in the wrong spot. Understanding the relationship between your short-term and long-term goals can help set you on the right path.

So first, let's start with one of the most popular goal setting frameworks: SMART goals.

You may have learned about SMART goals from a colleague, friend, or family member. Maybe you've even heard about them in Learning Center lessons. Overall, they're a widely accepted and straightforward way to go about setting goals.  

To review, SMART goal stands for:

  • Specific: Your goal should be unambiguous. It should communicate what is expected, why it's important, who's involved, where it's going to occur, and which constraints are in place.
  • Measurable: Your goal should have concrete criteria for measuring progress.
  • Attainable: Your goal should be realistic and possible for your team to reach.
  • Relevant: Your goal should matter to your business and address a core initiative.
  • Timely: You should have an expected date that you'll reach the goal.

In HubSpot, SMART lead generation goals can be tracked using the Marketing Performance report widget seen in your marketing dashboard. 

Take a second to review the framework. Notice anything that's missing? 

While the SMART goal framework allows you to focus your efforts and resources, it only helps you think in terms of a single goal. Yet, you'll likely be responsible for executing more than just one initiative. If your goals don't talk, how are you going to effectively move between what you need to do today and how that will lead to success in a week, a quarter, or a year down the road?

With this in mind, let's talk about different types of goals and how they relate to each other. 

What Is a Business Goal?

A business goal describes what a company is trying to accomplish over a set period of time (usually a year or more). Examples of this type of goal could include, but aren't limited to, number of customers, market penetration, or revenue.  

What Are Objectives and Key Results

Objectives and Key Results, also known as OKRs, are used to align the actions of your company's individual contributors and unify them toward a common objective—your business goal. 

The relative flow can work as follows:

Each department or business unit in your company identifies three to five objectives (usually quarterly goals), which will help the company achieve its business goal. These objectives, much like goals set using the SMART framework, should be timely, relevant, and attainable. 

Each objective should have three to four quantifiable and measurable success metrics that will showcase how well the department executed on those goals. 

Screen Shot 2018-07-16 at 6.08.03 PM

What About Projects?

You can (and probably should) set OKRs on a team or individual contributor level. It's a hierarchal method of setting and measuring goals that enables you to align all employees at your company. 

Think about how that applies to the projects or plays your team is working on day-to-day or week-to-week. Setting goals that align your everyday tactics and feed your overall business strategy means that every effort works toward creating impact. Rather than working on activities that could be siloed, you ensure the work of all your teams is productive to the vision of your company. 

So, think of your goals in terms of a pyramid. Your business goals can act as the foundation for all other goals set. Using these business goals as a compass, departments or teams can then set their OKRs to align behind this set of objectives. These OKRs can then inform the types of projects teams or individual contributors work toward in the short and medium term. 

Screen Shot 2018-07-16 at 5.57.30 PM

More than just making your initiatives SMART, adapting this type of goal-setting mindset and fitting it to your exact needs helps you move between accomplishing your daily short-term goals and long-term growth goals.

Think about how you can align the task of each individual contributor toward unified objectives. Then make sure those objectives feed company-wide growth. Overtime, this can help ensure maximized productivity and collaboration between teams. 

New Call-to-action

Related Articles

Outline your company's marketing strategy in one simple, coherent plan.

    Marketing software that helps you drive revenue, save time and resources, and measure and optimize your investments — all on one easy-to-use platform