The beginning of the new year is a great time to establish new resolutions and goals—in both our personal and professional lives—for the next 6 to 12 months. I, for one, need to save money for my upcoming wedding, while I also need to keep losing weight so I can look good in the photos that will be around seemingly forever. But while we tend to think of these as my objectives, they’re not. That’s because the amount of money I would like to save and the weight I want to lose are different from what I can realistically reach. This is where SMART goals come in handy.
What’s a S.M.A.R.T goal?
Behind this accessible acronym is a framework to help us define our goals and, importantly, achieve them. It helps us set goals that answer all kinds of questions, such as:
- What do I want to accomplish?
- Who’s involved?
- When do I need to do it?
- How much?
- When do I need to reach this goal?
- How will I be able to measure my performance?
- How will I know if I reached this goal?
Let’s look at each of the five components of S.M.A.R.T:
While setting specific objectives sounds like a logical and simple step, most people don’t do so.
Getting specific makes us answer the six “W” questions: What, Who, Why, Where, When, and Which.
Calling on my losing weight example, you’ll notice that my goals of “getting in shape” and “losing weight” aren’t very specific objectives. But by being more precise with my goal, I might instead say: “I want to get in shape. So my objective is to join a gym and workout for an hour twice a week starting next week.”
With the help of a simple sentence, I turned my general goal into a more concrete objective that I can easily stick to.
There is absolutely no point in setting objectives if you don’t know how to measure your achievement. Otherwise, how will you know you’ve achieved it?
For our example, when it comes to losing weight, one seemingly clear indicator to use might be the body mass index (BMI). But the BMI is an overall indicator; it doesn’t tell the whole story. We know that muscles weigh more than fat—so just measuring one’s weight can be misleading. In order to have a better idea of my losing-weight performance, I could measure my muscle mass and the size of my waist, thighs, and arms over time.
For an objective to be measurable, we need to ask: How much? How many? How will I know when I reached my goal?
In order to be more efficient, the goals and objectives we define must be both achievable and realistic. Yet they needn’t be “easy.” They should also give us the opportunity to stretch ourselves by identifying new resources and actions that can help to bring us closer to our goals. An achievable goal will usually answer questions such as:
- How can I accomplish this goal?
- How realistic is the goal, based on other constraints, such as work, family obligations, logistics, and budget?
Taking this step ensures that we are setting goals that are relevant to us and that are aligned with our other goals. To be relevant, the answer to the following questions must be “yes”:
- Does this seem worthwhile?
- Is this the right time?
- Is it complementary to other efforts or needs?
In your professional life, you can add these two questions:
- Am I the right person to reach this goal?
- Is it applicable in the current socio-economic environment?
Asking and answering these questions helps us avoid spending our finite time and energy on an objective that is just not worth it. It’s all about making sure the timing’s right.
By adding deadlines to our goals, we can set priorities and milestones to measure performance. It’s important to set up realistic time frames to accomplish the smaller goals that, all together, help us achieve our final objective.
Why S.M.A.R.T goals are important for your business
Enough talking about my weight—or I’ll get depressed! What’s more important is to recognize why you should be using S.M.A.R.T goals to run your business more successfully. The S.M.A.R.T. methodology can help you manage your priorities better, increase your focus and productivity, and build your confidence.
As a marketer, I always keep an eye out for new opportunities to improve my performance, both in acquisition and customer retention. It becomes very obvious that marketing trends change rapidly. Not a day goes by without a new article or video popping on my social feeds: “The Essentials of Marketing in 2020,” “The 10 things to do for successful marketing,” “I tried these new tactics and increased my traffic by 5 Million Percent!”
I always feel bad for not having enough time and resources to try everything I read about. But then I take a step back and realize that it’s realistically not possible to do all of them efficiently at the same time. Setting S.M.A.R.T goals helps me drive my focus on the best activities for ClicData and still improve my stats. When you set S.M.A.R.T goals, you naturally direct your attention and your team’s attention toward your next step. As a result, everyone can work more collaboratively and focus their efforts in the most effective direction, and the actions that follow will naturally propel you in that direction.
S.M.A.R.T goals: examples for an efficient marketing strategy
Too often, when companies want to get started with integrated marketing, they go straight to the tools. They ask themselves: What are the right keywords to rank for? Should we use Facebook, Twitter, or Google+? Should we be writing content four times a day or 57 times a month? Should we invest in this trade show or sponsor that event?
SEO, content, paid search, and social efforts are all fundamental pieces to a successful marketing approach that avoids siloing. But they are simply tools. Your efforts will be much more successful—and a lot easier to get off the ground—if you start with goals and KPIs.
Defining your revenue goals and brand marketing goals early in your process will help you establish them as important components of your marketing approach. Doing so will affect how your company approaches many aspects of the job, including content creation, technical SEO, and demand campaigns. As a result, they help you find the shortest path to success by tracking your marketing results.
S.M.A.R.T marketing goal: Brand
Setting brand marketing goals are critical to your success. Your company might want to set a specific brand goal of reaching a certain percentage of market share in your industry. Or you might decide to set smaller goals as well, such as expanding your email list by a certain amount, driving more blog traffic, or winning Google features snippets for a specific list of targeted keywords.
S.M.A.R.T marketing goal: Revenue
Specifying your revenue marketing goals helps you see how you are going to achieve them. For example, product-based companies might set a revenue marketing goal to increase software subscriptions or increase new customer contacts by a certain percentage. Service-based companies might set a revenue goal to increase inquiries by a certain percentage. The goal becomes a benchmark that you can check your progress.
Once you’ve established your unique brand and revenue goals, the next step is to define those goals in measurable terms.
Of course, you can count on ClicData’s BI platform to track your achievement and to compare your results against your goals in real-time. You can gather all your KPIs in a single dashboard and share your results with your managers and your team throughout the year.