There are a lot of reasons that you need goals to be successful and that’s especially true when you’re the owner or key player in a small business. And it’s even more true when it comes to marketing your small business. SMART marketing goals are critical for success.
A couple of years ago my friend Constance gave me one of the most memorable presents I've ever received. Her birthday gift to me was a coffee mug boldly branded with the words Goal Digger because, as she says, I am always talking about goals.
Why Set Goals in Business?
She’s not wrong. I talk about goals a lot. If you ask me a question about marketing, you could safely bet that my answer will include a question about your goals.
I believe in the importance of setting goals – not necessarily resolutions, but goals. It’s easy to make resolutions, especially at the start of a New Year. Anything seems possible on January 1 and by the 15th you’re ready to throw in the towel.
Simply deciding that you want to do better this year doesn’t make it happen. If that were the case, we’d all be healthier and happier just for the resolve alone, wouldn’t we? No; making anything happen means setting specific goals that lead us to our desired result. And that’s why set goals in business.
The difference between those who are successful and those who are not is goals. If you believe in your vision, then you should be able to clearly state (on paper) what that vision is.
Why Set Marketing Goals?
I’ve worked with a lot of small businesses in my 20+ years of marketing. In working with them, I hear a lot about their frustrations especially when it comes to marketing. For many businesses marketing is seen as a necessary evil. It’s something you do because you have to but have no real confidence that you’re doing the right thing or that it’s going to work.
Most solve this problem by enlisting the help of a professional. And they’re often disappointed when they get similar results. It’s easy to blame someone else for the failure. And truthfully they deserve some of it but not all.
The biggest reason that any business effort fails, including marketing, is the failure to set clear objectives before doing anything else. That’s right, the number one reason your marketing isn’t working is because you’re not setting goals or you’re chasing the wrong ones.
Resolutions and goals too are a lot like that mug Constance gave me, they're easily broken.
SMART Marketing Goals
The Most Important One
There are only two numbers that matter in measuring success in small business marketing: revenue and profit.
At the end of the day, unless the amount of money that the business and ultimately you are making isn’t increasing, then no other metric matters. When setting goals for your marketing, that's where you start.
When settings goals for your business (and marketing), start with how much money you want the business to make. It doesn’t matter what your number is but you have to have it. You revenue goal should look something like this:
In 2020, XYZ Company will increase revenue to $250,000.
Pretty simple right? When setting revenue goals, it’s helpful to know where you are now and to be realistic to about how much you can reasonably increase in the time period you’ve chosen. It’s good to stretch and set the marker a little beyond the line that seems easily reached (it’s a called a stretch goal). But you don’t want to set yourself up for failure by selecting a goal that’s unattainable barring a minor miracle.
Bottom line is that you revenue goal should be achievable but also a little outside your comfort zone.
What Are SMART Goals?
As you read this article, you'll notice that all the marketing goals examples follow as similar format. That's because they're SMART goals! SMART stands for:
- Specific — Does it target a specific area for improvement?
- Measurable — How are you measuring your success?
- Achievable — Is it reachable?
- Relevant — Is it realistic to achieve?
- Time-bound — When would you achieve it by?
For more about SMART goals, grab our Goal Setting Worksheet. Along with the worksheet, you'll find tips for setting and achieving your business and marketing goals.
Marketing Goals Beyond Money
Once you have your money goals in hand, you have to figure out how you're going to get there. The role of all other metrics (the things you measure) in marketing is to support your revenue goals.
As you start working on these supporting goals, beware of vanity metrics. These are numbers that feel like goals and make us feel good but do nothing to generate sales.
I'm talking about focusing your goals for things like:
- Getting more likes on Facebook.
- Getting more visitors on your website.
- Getting more followers on Instagram or Twitter.
These sort of measurements are very much shiny objects. They're big and pretty easy to make them bigger. But the problem is one of quality vs quantity.
Simply getting more visitors on your website is easy. What you need are the right visitors who take action to begin a conversation with you that will lead to a sale (and yes! more revenue).
Reverse the Funnel
When setting goals, you want to work backwards up the funnel. If you want to increase revenue by $50,000, how many of your widgets, hours of service, etc must you sell to achieve that? How many new customers is that? Are there opportunities for additional sales from existing clients?
It's only after you've identified the sales needed to meet your goals, that you work you way up the funnel to figure out how many prospects and finally how many leads (or people interested) you need to get there.
This is easiest to see in action so let's look at some examples!
SMART Marketing Goals Examples
In this example, the (completely fictitious) business is a naturopathic medical practice that’s been in business for a couple of years. They’ve done OK growing the practice but aren’t making as much money as they’d like. They’re goals might look something like this:
Our practice will increase revenue to at least $240,000 in 2020. (Notice the use of “at least” in the phrasing. This a psych trick to prevent limiting beliefs and allow for any possibility should the minor miracle happen.)
Increase monthly revenue (total sales and income) from $15,000 to $25,000 per month by October of 2020. (As you begin to execute on your goals, you’ll want to break this out into smaller monthly goals. And then you’ll track actual sales against the goal to make sure you stay track.)
By the end of the first quarter (March 31), have marketing tactics in place that generate at least 10 new patients per month. (To keep the math easy, I’m assigning a value of $1000 to each new patient. This is a number this is unique to your business. This is also a fairly broad goal that needs to be broken down into specific activities to achieve it.)
- Each month (January through November), attend at least 20 business or networking events each month. From these events, schedule 2 to 3 follow-up meetings with prospective referral partners or patients generating at least 1 new patient per month.
- By January 31, 2020, launch a review campaign that systematically and automatically asked every patient for feedback and solicits them to write a review. Add a pop-up and/or page to our website to automatically display reviews from Google and Facebook on our website. From February to December, get at least 3 new reviews per month.
- By the end of January, build out our patient referral program and introduce to the people who already know us in February. Throughout the year, promote and make adjustments to the referral program until it generates 5 prospective patients each month.
- Create and post 3x per week to Facebook and Instagram every month. In advance, select 6 themes to promote key services within the business (i.e. IVs, massage, food allergy testing). Assign themes to months and post content to social media creating at least 10 leads per month for the selected service.
The Final Word
As you can see, the goals start quite broad but as you work your up the funnel become more specific. They also break down the larger numbers into smaller bite size chunks that feel more achievable.
One note, goals are not commandment. It’s OK if they morph or completely change as they year goes by. And in fact, unless you can see the future, they will change.
If you’re properly tracking your efforts against your goals, you’ll easily be able to see what’s working as you thought it would and what’s not. Not every approach is going to perform but having SMART marketing goals and systems for tracking result will help you make informed decisions that will grow your business.