Marketing plans

How to Define Your Marketing Goals (SMART)

How to Define Your Marketing Goals (SMART)

You’ve probably gotten the hint by now that I believe Planning. Is. Everything. Like Eleanor Roosevelt said, “It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.” How’s that for a real talk? As you fine-tune your advertising strategy (e.g., business planning and choosing marketing avenues), be sure to spend some time evaluating your marketing objectives.

Marketing objectives should precisely spell out what you want to accomplish through your marketing activities – within a specific timeframe – as you promote your products or services.

Setting objectives will help you set meaningful goals and create marketing strategies that support your big-picture business objectives. It will ensure that your marketing campaigns aren’t just gung-ho shots in the dark but are successfully contributing to your bottom line. And there are a number of important factors to keep in mind to ensure that you are setting practical marketing objectives.

There is a nifty acronym to help you remember these factors. All you need to do is ensure your marketing objectives are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.

The SMART approach not only ensures that your marketing activities are planned and managed effectively but also allows you to check back and determine whether your marketing activities were as successful as planned. If not, it serves as a guide for how you could direct your energies going forward. 

Specific

Are your marketing objectives clear enough? Have you written out exactly how success will look for you and your business and how you see yourself getting there? 

Objectives should not be broad, sweeping, or arbitrary. Also, use verbs (doing words) wherever possible to indicate exactly what action needs to be taken. Identify the exact steps of your plan and the market segment you are targeting. And then make sure your plan is clear enough that you can your objectives becoming ideal outcomes.

Measurable

Each marketing objective must be quantifiable. Look at whether a unit of measurement can be applied to determine the level of success in meeting your objectives, such as measuring a market share percentage or increased revenue figures. 

  • What tools will I use to measure the success of my marketing activities?
  • How will I know whether my activities have had any impact?
  • How will I get my hands on this data?

Achievable

Lofty goals are exciting to set, but if you can’t see a direct path towards making it happen, then it’s ultimately useless to you. You want to tick off your objectives within a reasonable timeframe. If your marketing objectives are too intricate or long-term, break them down into simpler, shorter-term goals. Identify your initial to-dos, things you can start today or tomorrow. From there, branch off into subsequent small jobs that will allow you to see your progress.

Realistic

Similar to making sure your objective path is achievable, you need to be realistic about what you can accomplish. We are all capable of extraordinary things, but if you set your sights too high from the outset, it can be quite disappointing (and downright disheartening) when things don’t go to plan.

Realistic doesn’t mean easy. Set targets that you and/or your employees will need to work hard to accomplish but ultimately have a chance of meeting. Check that every objective is possible within your proposed timeframe and your set budget.

Timely

Having a concrete end date is a powerful motivator. Open-ended marketing objectives often fall short because, well, they can be put off until tomorrow. 

Determine when you want to achieve your objectives, and do not adjust the date. When you reach that end date, measure your success rate using the measurement tools you planned earlier. Celebrate successes and learn from your mistakes. Your next, improved marketing campaign will aim to circumvent those losses.