If you've ever worked in a corporate environment, chances are token business terms like "business planning" and "annual goal setting" make you feel a bit uncomfortable. I personally get a twitch under my eye thinking back to the days when I needed to judge my own performance, put myself into rating boxes, and justify what I am going to do in the next quarter or year to be "better," and I was a great employee!
As a business owner now, though, I have to say I get the need for these things. I almost even like them. A business coach once asked me if my intention was to work IN my business or ON my business. That really stuck with me. Oftentimes we're so deep into the work, the operations, the invoices and emails of our business that we don't pick our head up enough to see HOW we are actually doing. Taking some time at the end of the year to look back at what you've done and assess where you want to go in the new year can be exciting and a great opportunity to appreciate all your hard work.
With reflection tends to come goal setting, and setting goals leads to more success. Without set goals, we may just drift from one idea to the next, without a focus on clear objectives or how our efforts are making a difference. Business goals and objectives are necessary to measure the success of our business: what's working, what's not working, and where are there areas of opportunity? Maybe you increased sales this year by 25% and now want to grow by 35% next year.
We've all heard by now that business goals should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. They should include a level of accountability that keeps you focused. And really, so should your marketing goals. The best way to accomplish this with your marketing goals is actually pretty simple: tie them directly to your business goals and objectives. And before you come at me with a, "Well duh. Obviously you should be tying those things together," I challenge you to really ask yourself if this is a practice you're following. Because in my experience.... it's usually not. As I said earlier, it's usually something vague like "Get higher rankings on Google Search."
So, how? How do you go about setting these magical marketing goals for the year? Well, let's talk through that.
Understand your business objectives. These are the goals your business aims to achieve, usually in a specific time period. For the sake of this exercise, let's say you're trying to reach that higher sales number this year. Business Objective: Increase sales by 35% in 2022
Determine what strategies you should launch to meet those goals. Now that you know what it is you're working towards, determine which specific strategies you need to implement to reach that point. In this example of trying to increase sales, let's pick a few tactics that will help make progress to that goal. Strategies: Increase Brand Awareness; Create More Leads; Raise Prices
Decide on marketing objectives. The entire goal of your marketing is to move you closer to your business goals. So decide which marketing initiatives are going to do just that. Marketing Objectives: Create 3 new leads per week from social media ads; Optimize website SEO to increase page views by 40%; Consistently share Value Proposition through weekly content marketing*
Set a budget and a time frame. Once you've decided what you're going to focus on, set a budget for things like ads, time, or outsourcing. Also set a time frame of when you will measure the success of the goal, so that you can come back to it and make adjustments if needed. Example: I am going to spend $50/month on Facebook ads for 3 months to gain 12 new high converting leads per month.
Track your progress. Come back to your goal after the set time frame and see if it met its objectives or if it needs to be adjusted accordingly. Example: After 3 months, I only gained 10 new quality leads from those paid ads. I will either need to adjust the strategy, budget or objectives.
*shameless plug: if you don't know what your value proposition is - you need a brand strategy! Call me!
While this is just one high-level example, you can see how going through this process can help lead you to marketing goals that are very specific to you and your business objectives, as opposed to vague and immeasurable. It's important to remember that marketing for the sake of marketing serves no real purpose; the only real objective of your marketing should be to help move the needle of your business goals.
For help with this, or any of your branding or marketing needs, feel free to reach out any time. No small business is too small for a solid marketing strategy!