Whether you’re a pirate circling in on the ultimate treasure or an astronaut taking a voyage to Mars, you won’t get there unless you’ve clearly mapped out your route. OK, maybe your business journey takes place at a desk instead of the high sea or deep space, but the same applies. It’s easier to achieve your goals once you’ve got a solid plan for getting from point A to point B.
Of course, the first step is figuring out where point B actually is — and understanding that not all goals are created equal.
What makes a good goal?
A good goal contains elements that make it possible to achieve and prove success. To use a common example, let’s say you want to lose weight by the end of 2017. While your instinct may be to simply state, “I’m going to lose 20 pounds this year,” it’s unlikely you’ll actually make that happen without a more detailed strategy. Think about the impact of instead setting the following goal: “I’m going to lose 20 pounds by December 31 by cutting out 500 calories a week, removing sugar from my diet, going to the gym three times a week and measuring my progress at the end of each month to reevaluate my strategy.”
Setting goals for your B2B marketing department should follow the same principles. One tactic often used in setting and measuring attainable goals is called the S.M.A.R.T. method, which can help you ensure the goals you are setting are tangible, realistic and accessible:
The more specific your goal is, the easier it is to know what steps to take to achieve it. For example, “earning more revenue” may be a goal, but it’s too vague to act upon. “Growing my email list by 200 percent every three months” is a better goal because it gives you a deadline and specific actions to take.
Make sure your goal is measurable. You not only want to have a measurable endpoint, so you will know when you’ve completed your goal; you’ll also want smaller measurable points along the way to track your progress and make sure you’re staying on track to reach your goal in time.
Aim to check in on how you’re doing at least every three months. If you’re not living up to expectations, that’s okay too — the reason you check in with yourself is so you can modify your actions and predictions accordingly.
Figuring out whether your goal is attainable can be the most difficult part. Think about all of the factors it will take for you to reach your goal, such as time, energy, money, manpower and talent.
For example, if you want to create more ebooks to use as valuable content for leads but you only have one person on your marketing team, it may not be feasible for you to set a goal of writing and promoting three ebooks each month. A more attainable goal for you may be to hire two trusty new employees or interns who can help you create and promote more content strategically. Be honest with yourself on whether your goal is truly attainable; if not, start with something smaller and build up to your larger goal over time.
Make sure the goal you’re setting is good for your business both in the short and long term. Perhaps one of your products or solutions is failing to sell. Would it be a better use of your time and energy to create a goal around boosting sales of that product or solution? Or would it be more strategic to focus on improving that product or solution or replacing it with something that may sell better?
Think about the direction you want to take your business and make sure the goals you set align with that direction.
Bring all of the elements together with a timeline to keep yourself on track. Create a deadline to work toward. Having a deadline and check-in points, even if they’re flexible, will motivate you to keep working toward your goal.
Now that you know where point B is and have a S.M.A.R.T. strategy for getting there, you can set out on your journey confidently, knowing you have the tools you need to navigate the high seas, overcome choppy waters — and take a detour if you need to.