If you’ve ever tried to get somewhere without the benefit of a clearly defined route, you’ll know how easy it is to end up somewhere you never intended to go. And while that might be an enjoyable way to spend your next vacation, it’s not the best way for your business to accomplish its promotional objectives.

Harnessing the full power of your marketing goals requires that you:

  • qualify and quantify those goals before you pursue them, and
  • that you take the time to detail each step along the way

When you adopt an organized approach for getting where you want to go, you’ll find it easier to track your progress, and you’ll be better prepared to modify your methodology in response to the results you achieve.

The Short View

Setting goals is essential at the best of times, but it’s particularly important when your business is traversing new marketing territory. If you’ve never launched a social media campaign, or developed a direct mail strategy before, it can be difficult to know where to start.

Not having a well-defined direction is one of the main reasons why so many companies experience a frustrating lack of progress, or fall victim to outright performance inertia. The best way to get your marketing goals underway is to break them down into a collection of smaller initiatives. By creating a series of steps that will lead you to your chosen destination, large-scale plans can be executed more efficiently.

One of the most widely-used project management frameworks is known as the SMART approach. Consider taking advantage of this system when developing your company’s short-term objectives, to ensure that they’re:

Specific – each step should target a precise outcome

Measurable – every outcome must be quantifiable, so you’ll know when you’ve reached it

Actionable – each step should revolve around a distinct task to be completed

Relevant – every task must contribute directly to a long-term objective

Time-Sensitive – steps must adhere to a succession of pre-established deadlines

To keep your objectives as practical as possible, be sure to build them with the fundamental elements of prioritization, organization, measurement, and assessment in mind.

The Long View

The basic, accepted principles of goal setting tell us that creating long-term aims that are both distinct and measurable is the key to driving performance and managing motivation. Simply put, your organization is not very likely to achieve a favorable sales response if its intention is merely to “generate more leads”.

To create effective marketing goals that inspire productive action, use this checklist to verify that your business objectives are:

  • Clear,
  • Complex,
  • Challenging,
  • Commitment-based, and
  • Feedback-oriented

Let’s consider each of these characteristics in turn, to see how they contribute to a successful goal-setting process.

Clarity

When it comes to bringing your marketing venture to life, establishing goals that are clear and precise is often more relevant to success than keeping those goals conservative, or even conventional. As we’ve already discussed, it takes more than just a vague desire to generate more leads with a direct mail campaign to make that goal a reality. Tangible results demand that you cultivate objectives that are highly specific in nature, like this one:

“My marketing goal is to increase lead generation by 30% over the next quarter.”

Don’t let the lack of a past frame of reference keep you from setting the goal you truly want to achieve. When you begin with an objective that’s clear-cut – and that can be easily measured – you’ll gain the ability to shape a more authentic approach to what’s possible as your marketing strategy unfolds.

Complexity

Studies confirm that the more involved a task is, the more likely we are to focus our full attention on it. This elevated level of dedicated effort can make an enormous difference in reaching the outcome you’re after.

If you want your promotional goals to be part of a winning strategy, they should be sufficiently complex, without being so overwhelming that you’ll be tempted to give up on them. At the same time, you need to make certain that your business has both the time and the resources necessary to meet any objective it launches.

Challenge

Think your business has a better chance of scaling that mountain if you line the trail with easy-to-meet milestones? As surprising as it sounds, research stretching all the way back to the 1960’s confirms that professional performance improves when a goal is suitably difficult.

In other words, the greater the challenge, the more motivated we become to resolve it successfully. And that truth becomes even more compelling when we consider accomplishing a particular goal to be its own reward.

Commitment

Encouraging the necessary commitment for getting all those new leads generated requires a single-minded, collaborative effort. The benefits of teamwork within a professional setting are well-documented, and include:

  • Increased efficiency
  • Reduced costs
  • Improved morale
  • More innovative thinking

So, unless you’re flying solo as a business owner, every member of your sales force must be on board in equal measure where your marketing efforts are concerned. When a team shares the belief that each is an integral part of the goal setting process, they’ll accomplish what they set out to do faster, and with a much better chance of staying on budget.

Feedback

Aiming for a specific goal without a feedback program in place is like throwing a dart in the in the dark – there’s no way to know when you’re hitting the target. Initiatives that include regular progress reports are essential for recognizing when you’ve met your objectives – and for making any necessary adaptations to your game plan along the way.

The flexibility you gain by keeping a running tally of your results and response rates will save your business time, money, and the loss of motivation that often accompanies unexpected failure.