Running a Facebook page for your business, keeping the likes and tweets rolling on Instagram/Twitter/LinkedIn, being present at shows or events in your niche, unscrambling SEO best practices and performance... all while running your precious business can keep.you.spinning. It is so easy to get sucked in and obsessed with these tools and the “results” we’re seeing or not seeing. It can be flipping frustrating to figure out if what we’re doing is even working or creating an impact.
If this stopgap is hitting home, I’d love to help you grab your footing. See, if we run at all of these amazing tools from every which way, even when well intended, our output will trip, falter and just lose sight of where it’s going. If we run these tools with rooted, thoughtful goals and strategy… of course you'll find it less stressful, less confusing and producing results you’re looking for! Often, it’s just a matter of taking the thought and time to lay down your plan.
So far through this DIY Brand Discovery blog series, we’ve slayed building a brand strategy foundation, aligning a positioning promise and profiling target audience personas. Here we will walk through how to create effective, measurable and actionable goals that align marketing activity, reaching target audiences and the needs of your small business.
SMART Goal Framework: How to write clear, reachable goals
When we’re making goals for our small business, it’s more than just saying, “This year I really want to grow my following on social media.” Or, “I’ll probably exhibit at a few shows to amp up new clients.” Or, “I’ll try selling merch and donating profits to a good cause to capture PR attention.”
SMART goal framework is a solid, tried-and-true approach for setting marketing goals. This means each goal you set for your business is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. SMART goal framework is the key to not only defining your marketing efforts, but assigning purpose to them as well. It is your meter in laying down accountability so that you can work toward it, scale performance and measure success.
There is a TON of helpful content out there about SMART goal framework beyond this little article. Please feel free to Google away. Even better, because I’ll never leave you hanging, grab this book: The SMART Criteria: The SMART way to set objectives. This read takes under an hour and delivers straightforward, practical and applicable understanding of setting SMART goals. Boom, you’re welcome!
Now, let’s dig in and take a look at how you can make SMART goals work for you. First, we’ll break down how you write these goals with confidence. Then, we’ll dissect how to identify, categorize and prioritize the highest impact goals for growing your small business.
Ready for that freebie!? Grab this checklist now. It’s your cheat sheet to writing a perfectly clear, reachable SMART marketing goal:
Let’s put this into context and work out a sample example:
Meet Franny Freelancer. She runs a graphic design freelance business out of her home office. Over the last year, she learned that blog traffic performed as the most successful source in capturing new client leads. So, she increased her publishing rate from 1 article a week to 2 posts a week. She watched as her traffic jumped 8%, supporting research that higher blog post frequency can translate into higher blog traffic! In order to increase the quantity of new business opportunities, she wants to try increasing blog traffic again through a higher publishing frequency. Here is a SMART goal to help her achieve just that:
During Q1 of 2019, Franny Freelancer Blog traffic will achieve a 10% increase by doubling posting frequency to 4 article posts per week.
Breaking it apart, you can see how this goal fulfills each SMART requirement:
Specific: Increase blog traffic by increasing blog post frequency to 4 times a week.
Measurable: A 10% increase in blog traffic is her goal. This is a measurable metric through both her blog dashboard and Google Analytics.
Attainable: By increasing traffic with increased post frequency once before, she has confidence it is realistic to do again. The production and post frequency is also manageable with her workload.
Relevant: The goal of increasing blog traffic grows Franny’s brand exposure to and reach for generating new leads. This is relevant for growing her blog, brand awareness and bottom line.
Timely: Franny is dedicating the first quarter of the New Year to achieve this goal. She is planning ahead, allowing sufficient time and will be able to effectively plan activity to meet it.
Comparing Franny’s SMART goal to the well intended “goals” at the beginning of this section, you can clearly see the difference in how SMART goal framework can revitalize your focus and performance. Not only are you setting a specific metric to improve (like growing social media followings or engagements, increasing blog traffic, attending shows, building PR activity, etc.), you are creating a measurable benchmark for success that is realistic to achieve within a specific timeframe.
Now, mechanically speaking, that’s all there is to this. When writing marketing goals, you simply fulfill SMART marketing parameters. Don’t overthink it!
SWOT Analysis & Goal Categories: How to identify and prioritize high impact goals
...but you’re right, setting goals isn’t just that easy. The science to goal setting comes in making sure you have a diverse set of goals covering various categories you’ll need to grow your business. While this mix is different for each company, we can all follow a similar process to uncover where to focus our goals.
Ready for another acronym? If you haven’t met already, get to know my buddy SWOT analysis. Create a SWOT analysis for your business by making a four-grid table. Each section of the table represents where you throw down the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats for your company.
I couldn’t resist being able to save you time, so here’s ANOTHER freebie:
Go through and bullet out STRENGTHS of your business. These can address everything from the quality of your products and services, to recognition or following within your channel audiences, to location benefits, the value customers receive and so on.
In WEAKNESSES, you want to identify areas of your business, products and audience engagement that are underperforming, need improvement or could be considered for overhaul/deletion.
Under OPPORTUNITIES, identify areas of business, technology, or emerging markets that you would love to focus on or develop in order to grow your business.
In THREATS, capture things from competitor companies or products to environmental or technological concerns that may impact your business. Be sure not to overlook any internal processes or factors that may be threatening your precious business as well.
As you noodle out your SWOT analysis, don't get stuck evaluating or solving any of the line items you create. Also be sure to research market and/or performance data so you capture accurate, quantifiable points wherever possible. Think of this as a brainstorm where you identify as many details of your business landscape as possible. Get your bullets down first. The brainwork comes next.
Ready? Okay, next we can scan for thematic categories across your bullets. No doubt you’ll see evidence of certain categories that mark where you can focus, grow, improve or let go. Use these categories to help organize where to focus goals for your business.
Below is a quick list of categories that you may be seeing or could consider:
General Business Operations
Product / Service / Offering
Online Platforms (e.g. Website, Social Channels, etc.)
Industry / Community Shows & Events
Competition (companies and products)
Emerging markets and/or customers
Great. Now that your SWOT bullets are listed, you're ready to triage. Highlight any in cardiac arrest for immediate, top priority. Also, be able to recognize the broken bones vs. the band-aids.
As with everything, we can’t fix or do it all. We need to temper our priorities. Go ahead and look closely at your "priority" triage:
1. What are the top areas that will have the greatest impact on your business:
Do you have strengths that you want to continue to leverage or grow?
Are there any direct threats to the vitality of your business?
Do you have a new or emerging market/product/service that you can get ahead of?
Is there a weakness that with the right balance of nurturing and support could turn into a strength?
Are there tools you can adopt that can solve a pain point or problem in your business?
2. What are the solutions and/or actions you need to achieve each?
3. Are your solutions / actions measurable? How? Make sure those solutions/actions are quantifiable!
What you’re doing here is translating your SWOT bullets into actionable solutions. Organize which actions and solutions fit into the long term and short term. Then, prioritize which you can and will tackle. Finally, earmark those you can push to the back burner.
Now, you’re ready. Grab your SMART Goal Framework Checklist and use all of this juicy, deliciously organized ammo to write your high impact SMART marketing goals list!
Marketing Activity & Productivity: Working IN Your Business and ON Your Business
You have a solid goal list, great! The last thing I want you feeling is, “BUT how the heck do I DO all of this!?” Let’s keep talking.
Working IN our business (servicing clients, running shops, selling, etc.) is always a demanding priority that pays the bills. Working ON our business is the sweat equity that grows our business and its profits in the long haul. It doesn’t always show immediate results and I get how easy it is to push it off and focus on what’s directly in front of you (*been there!*).
Life is all about balance and so is running a business. So, just like scheduling appointments, calls or shop hours we need when working IN our business; we have to schedule time to proactively work ON our business. Open you calendar. Reevaluate your work schedule and actively block out times you can attack the activity these goals require to.be.smashed. Schedule your priorities and treat them as preciously as you do your client commitments.
Goal Planning Frequency: How often to check in
How often we take time to assess our goals and performance is truly up to you and how you are running your business. It’s a scalable process whether your business already exists or you’re building something new from the ground up. It can be done annually, quarterly or even on a monthly basis. Whatever planning/eval schedule you fall on, consistency is key. In Morgatize, I love checking in on my goal progress monthly while using the fourth quarter (October/November) to plan for the following year. Find whatever works best for you! I promise whatever you land on will be time well spent. So, open that calendar back up, buddy! Be sure to schedule your goal check-ins too.
You can find balance. You will see improvement. You will create growth.
How did you make out on SMART, high impact goal setting!? As always, let me hear from you and don’t forget to share this post with your buds. Next up in the DIY Brand Discovery Blog series, we’ll dive into brand identity and logo design. Keep with me, I believe in you and will see you there!
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