Why You Aren't Hitting Your Goals: How to Write SMART Goals That Succeed

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As a marketer or savvy business person, you understand that in order for things to get done, you have to set goals at work.

But the problem isn’t defining your objectives, it’s actually achieving them. You get your team all hyped up (or maybe need help motivating them), but at the end of the quarter, the numbers have barely moved.

Sounds like you haven’t been SMART about goal setting.

Whether you need better structure, trackability or to establish clear milestones, we’re here to help you hit your marks.

What the SMART Goals Acronym Stands For

As a marketers, you have three general concerns. You want to get more visitors to your website, convert more prospects into leads and nurture more leads into customers. The right marketing goals can help you achieve these.

In order for your ambition to be SMART, it should be:

  1. Specific

  2. Measurable

  3. Attainable

  4. Relevant

  5. Timely
what-the-smart-goal-acronym-stands-for

How to Write SMART Goals

Let’s explore each of the core parts of the SMART goals acronym to develop, and actually achieve, your marketing objectives.

S is for Specific

Goals often fail because they are too broad to work towards. It’s easy to say you want to increase sales, but announcing “This quarter, our goal is to bring in more customers!” at a staff meeting won’t have any tangible impact.

Without a specific benchmark, your statement won’t be very motivating. Of course you want them to sell more, but how much more?

Outline what you want to achieve to communicate what exactly is expected of them.

A REAL SMART GOAL EXAMPLE

Let’s say your marketing team is developing a set of workshops to teach clients a new software. For this example, let’s say they’re HubSpot tutorials.

It’s not enough to say you want to do more workshops this quarter. You need to address the specifics:

  • How will the goal be reached? // What tactics will you be using to achieve your goal? We’ll talk about this more in the M is for Measurable point below.

  • Who will be involved? // Determine what team members you’ll need help from and outline their responsibilities and expectations.

  • What do you need to get started and follow-through? // Create a list of all the deliverables you have to make, such as the workshop web page, landing page, thank-you page, the materials for the workshops, the presentation, their take-home documents, your follow-up emails or review.

  • What is the end-goal of all of this? // Maybe at the end of the year, you hope to make a certain amount of revenue or have a certain number of companies you helped.

Don’t forget to get specific when telling your team why this goal is important too, which we’ll address more below.

M is for Measurable

Sometimes in business, it’s easy for a marketer to base interactions on feelings about relationships. At the end of the day, your boss wants to know your clients are happy with the work you do and continue to write their retainer checks.

Although it can be helpful to gauge your client’s disposition, feelings can be ambiguous and a dangerous way to drive decision-making.

You know what’s not ambiguous? Data. Assign a number to your goals to break them down into measurable results.

What metrics are relevant to your industry? For marketers, we often track website visits, number of leads and customers, clicks, opens— all sorts of interaction and engagement metrics.

A REAL SMART GOAL EXAMPLE

Maybe your KPIs for SEO are around your organic traffic, keyword density, backlinking profile and more. These metrics all have numbers like daily visits, percentage you used a phrase per article and number of referring domains and links.

But, there are things in any field that take some smart strategizing to assign a value to. For example, search engine results page (SERP) rankings can be tricky to measure. Some SEOs assign values to ranking on page one of Google based on the “position” it appears in, say in the number three slot out of eleven links.

No matter how you assign value to each metric, it’s important to set a standard for quantifying your data.

A is for Attainable

Your goal should be lofty, but not unrealistic. It should be something that you look at and think, “Yeah, I’m going to need to buckle down and really commit to get this done,” but not something that would require you to work crazy extra hours or jump through hoops to complete.

It’s all too easy to look at a goal through rose-tinted glasses and bite off more than you can chew. Avoid this by mindfully accessing every word of your proposition.

A REAL SMART GOAL EXAMPLE

The goal should be attainable around your sense of time, money and talent. Let’s explore these:

  • Do you have enough time to do it? // If you only work 40 hours a week and are salaried, you should be able to devote only your paid time towards achieving your goal. Working outside of your set hours will give your boss and peers a misguided perception of what is achievable in that timeframe. (This is going to tie in with the last letter of the SMART acronym here in a bit!)

  • Is it within your budget? // Your goal must stick to your budget and not have you scrambling for additional moola. Owner of your business or not, your goal should especially not require dipping into your own wallet instead of a business fund.
  • Do you have the knowledge or skill(s) needed to deliver? // Lastly, your goal must be within the scope of your skills and expertise. It sounds silly, but this can be easy to underestimate. If you aren’t knowledgeable in a certain area to the necessary level, ensure you have someone on your team who is and can collaborate to ensure all elements of the goal are possible.

Goals that are too intimidating will deter participation (both for you personally and all those involved), so do your homework before committing to an ambition that is low-key delusional or #extra.

R is for Relevant

Relevance often starts with accessing your big “WHY.” Why does your company exist? What is the jet-fuel behind every action you take?

Look at your goal and ask yourself, “at the end of the day, does achieving this goal align with our overarching purpose?

This part of the acronym starts to break down within companies who lack a strong vision. If your company doesn’t have a formal mission statement, think of your own why. Why do you wake up everyday and go to work? If it’s to help people, assess how this goal helps your company at large by supporting this initiative.

A REAL SMART GOAL EXAMPLE

For years, the iconic tech junkies at Apple have stood behind this statement:

“Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use, and user friendly.”

If Apple were to release a product mimicking another company’s design or made a flashy, complicated interface, it would be completely against all their brand has built. Look at your own business and ask yourself how relevant your goal is to your brand.

Do you need help developing a powerful mission or vision statement or defining a set of core values your employees can be inspired by? Download our Ultimate Guide to Creating a Brand Plan.

T is for Time-Bound

Simply put, set an exact day (sometimes even time of day) to have your goal completed by. Your plan should have a clearly defined deadline that everyone involved must comply to.

Don’t forget that your timing must be something that is realistic and achievable. Although it’s nice to be ambitious, like the other elements of the SMART goal acronym, make sure your timeline is relevant and attainable.

A REAL SMART GOAL EXAMPLE

Let’s say you have a big presentation coming up and need some data to prove the success of a long-term project. If you need a certain deliverable for a meeting, it heightens the importance of planning!

If your goal is stretched out over the course of a few months, it’s imperative to set mini deadlines along the way to keep up your pace and nurture the team with “micro wins.” Consider incentivizing these finish line markers with small prizes.

With a smart goal of “Handcraft 200 mermaid tail necklaces by September 1, 2018 to sell at the weekend Jewelry Expo,” treat yourself and your business partner to drinks after you each create 50. The incremental steps will help everyone feel like they are making progress and keep the morale strong.

Writing SMART Goals is an Integral Part of the Inbound Marketing Process

Setting goals at work starts with a well-established marketing plan. Make sure you’re only putting effort into specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely objectives.

This can sound overwhelming, but it’s something that’s ingrained naturally in most inbound marketers. Once you master the five elements of the SMART goals acronym, it’ll become a fluid part of your monthly planning and reporting.

It ain’t so hard. Download The Beginner’s Guide to Inbound Marketing to learn how you could implement a successful marketing campaign to support your goals.

The Beginners Guide to Inbound Marketing eBook

Topics: Inbound Marketing

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