smart-goalsWhen you’re creating a marketing program, setting goals should be your first step. And while the vast majority of marketers know setting goals is important, the truth is, there’s a chance your goals actually suck.

We’ve all been there – marketing wishes and suggestions come from all angles, from a variety of different positions in the organization.

Kim in HR just heard about the latest and greatest social network and wants to know why your company isn’t on it.

Your CEO wants to organically rank in the top spot for your most competitive industry-focused keywords.

Rob in sales wants your latest ad to go viral and secure millions of YouTube views.

You start to feel the pressure to do everything everyone wants, and in turn, you start to create sucky goals that just don’t work. Here are the 5 reasons why your marketing goals might suck, and how you can fix them…

1) They’re Not SMART

A good goal is five things – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. If your goals aren’t those things, they might just be the opposite of “smart.”

Specific: First thing’s first, your goals need to be specific. Instead of saying, “we want to increase the number of leads driven through our site,” say, “we want to drive 100 qualified leads through our site each month.” If your goals are specific, there should be no question as to whether or not you achieve them.

Measurable: If you can’t measure your success in relation to your goals, your goals suck. Likewise, you always need to be sure you’re tracking and evaluating the right data, so don’t get too hung up on cool new metrics, and focus only on the metrics that actually matter to your business. Make sure your goals are measurable, and measure them often.

Attainable: Sure, 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 your industry, it may never be! Set challenging goals (goals that are too easy suck too), but make them do-able.

Relevant: Similarly, irrelevant goals suck. Let’s say you are a B2B marketer selling enterprise-level software products to the C-suite. Setting a goal of securing 1,000 Instagram followers is not a relevant goal, as your target customer is likely not using Instagram. Even if you achieved your goal of 1,000 Instagram 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 timeframe 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.

Setting SMART goals is the first step in making sure your goals don’t suck. So, what does a SMART goal look like? Here are a few examples:

  • Increase website visits by 25% by June 30, 2014.
  • Secure 500 qualified leads by June 30, 2014.
  • Close five $50,000+ deals by June 30, 2014.

2) They Don't Line up With Your Business Goals

If your marketing goals don’t align with your business goals, they suck. For example, if you have a revenue target of $10 million for 2014, your marketing goals should be based on that goal.

Sure, you may have 5,000 Facebook likes by the end of the year, but if none of those likes contributed to your annual revenue, what does it matter?

The important thing here is to deconstruct your business goals into digestible segments. For example, if your monthly revenue goal is $100,000, and you want 50% of all sales to come from your digital marketing initiatives and your website, you need to calculate the number of visitors and leads required to achieve that revenue goal. Those visitor and lead goals should be your marketing goals.

Pyxl actually created a helpful marketing goal calculator that will help you get started turning your revenue goal into marketing goals.

Lining up your marketing goals with your business goals is a great way to make sure they don't suck.

3) You Don't Have a Plan to Execute

We all want more visitors, more qualified leads and more revenue, but this is not an “if you build it, they will come” situation. In order to achieve your goals, you need a tangible plan in place that details how you will achieve them. Who is your target audience? What tactics will you use to reach them? What messaging will you use?

As French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery once said, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” Stop wishing, and put a plan in place to achieve your goals!

4) You Haven't Made Them Digestible

Big goals can be overwhelming. They’re less overwhelming when you break them down and look at them in smaller chunks.

For example, if you want to secure 100 qualified leads this month, break that down week-by-week and day-by-day (a la Mike Volpe’s leads waterfall). Doing this not only makes your goals far more achievable, it also enables you to track your success on an ongoing basis.

If you’re falling short, it’s better to know half way through the month than at the end of the month when there’s nothing you can do to change things.

5) You're Not Measuring Success Consistently

To successfully achieve your marketing goals, you need to consistently track and review how you’re doing. If you don’t know what’s working and what’s not, you’ll never be able to adapt the plan to ensure that you hit the mark.

Use tools like Google Analytics, HubSpot and others as needed to create a marketing dashboard that you look at weekly. If something’s not working, stop spending your time and money on it. If something’s working extremely well, determine if spending more time/money on it will make it work even better.

Not everything you’re going to try is going to work flawlessly, but as long as you’re paying attention, you can be reactive enough to adapt.


Originally published Jan 31, 2014 10:00:00 AM, updated January 18 2023


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