Did you want to get into shape over the summer? How did that go? Saying you want to get in shape is—forgive the term—shapeless and imprecise. But saying you want to lose 10 pounds before your cousin’s wedding in September is a concrete aim that helps motivate you as you work towards achieving your target.
Welcome to the world of SMART goals, an approach to defining objectives that you can use in your personal life and especially as you launch and market products in your business. The SMART acronym stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely.
The SMART method helps you set actionable goals to achieve short-term and long-term success in garnering new business. In this article, we’ll discuss what SMART goals are, why you need them, and how you can set them.
What are SMART goals?
SMART goals are definitive plans you work towards completing within a given period. Each letter in the acronym corresponds to an attribute you need to include in each goal.
Specific – Each SMART goal should be well defined and communicate the goal's purpose and why it’s important.
Measurable – Your goal should produce concrete, measurable results.
Achievable – Your team should have access to the resources it needs to reach the goal.
Relevant – A relevant goal displays a clear connection to your objectives. Relevant goals reflect your brand.
Timely or Time-bound – Every goal needs a start and end date. In other words, goals need a deadline.
Why do I need SMART goals for my business?
Do you want to put your efforts towards meaningful tasks, tasks that gain new customers, retain existing customers, and build your brand? SMART business goals are the tools to achieve success. Short-term goals keep you motivated and provide milestones to celebrate achieving larger, long-term goals. Being specific, measurable, and time-bound, these goals also offer you the flexibility to change tactics as circumstances change.
Here are some other benefits of the SMART goal-setting process:
Provides teams with a focus and source of motivation.
Helps a team prioritize tasks according to relevance to goals.
Increases customer satisfaction, which increases revenue.
Builds team connection as team members write goals and evaluate each goal’s relevance.
Guides your data collection protocols: As you gather marketing data, the SMART method can help you determine how to use that data.
Tracks your company’s progress through short-term and long-term goals.
How do you set SMART goals?
For best results, consider establishing small targets that build to achieve big targets. For example, set monthly, quarterly, and annual goals. These shorter increments will provide milestones for your bigger outcomes.
Using the example of weight-loss aims, here are examples of what to include for each SMART characteristic:
To gain specificity, some experts suggest asking the 5 “W” questions, who, what, where, when, and why. For example, I (who) want to lose 10 pounds (what) by walking 10,000 steps (okay, how) every day (when) around the office and my home (where) so I’ll look good for my cousin’s wedding (why).
To make a goal measurable, ask how you will know you’ve attained a goal. For example, you can track those 10,000 daily steps. But, the measurable metric is the 10-pound loss.
To gauge if you can achieve a goal, consider if you have the right resources—such as a Fitbit, walking shoes, and a weight-loss cookbook. Also, research to see if others have attained similar goals. Dropping 25 pounds in a month is drastic, unrealistic, and unhealthy. Losing 1-2 pounds every week for a month is healthy and doable.
To test your goal’s relevance, ask if it serves your values and strategic objectives. If you want to look good in a formal outfit, losing a few pounds and toning up serves that purpose. But maintaining a healthy weight also serves a strong strategic objective, a long and healthy life.
To make a goal time-bound, add a deadline. In this case, knowing that a special event is fast approaching creates a sense of urgency for you to meet your target weight.
How to use SMART goals in business?
The beauty of SMART goals is that they become a north star and goal-setting framework for your entire organization. In fact, many large successful companies have grown through setting SMART goals. For example, Starbucks sets overarching goals, which cascade to each location, based on what is achievable and relevant to that location. Activities become measurable through metrics that track such things as drive-thru times, order error rate, and upsell opportunities.
Here are two marketing examples:
We will increase users by 30% in the first quarter.
This goal assigns specific ownership to the team to increase users by a total of 30 percent in the period of the first quarter.
Receive 15 positive reviews on Yelp over the next two quarters.
With this goal, a company aims to garner a specific 15 reviews on a review site in the period of six months.
Within any framework, there is room to grow and evolve, but ensuring that goals are clear, actionable, and able to be built upon is very important.
Create a Roadmap for Success by Starting with a SMART Goal for Marketing
Do you want to know how to use SMART goals to create an actionable launch plan?
Follow these steps:
Consider the key characteristics of your product or business. Be honest and realistic. Note your unique value and areas where you excel, but also note weaknesses. Some example considerations:
Who are your core users or potential users?
Which customers do you need to attract?
In what economic and political context are you launching?
What are the best qualities of your social media and web presence?
If you have existing followers, what do the numbers look like?
What else should you consider about the product?
Decide your business priorities. After distilling a list of important product characteristics, your team must determine and prioritize desired outcomes.
Define your SMART goals. When the team knows the big-picture target, it can define the SMART goals as steps to reach that outcome.
Ideate marketing drives and align plans to the new goals. To reach your goals, you need to list the tasks and steps to achieve them. These tasks become your marketing campaign.
Assess existing sales funnel content and augment gaps as needed. Today, especially for B2B marketing, content matters. Decide whether you need case studies, white papers, blogs, eBooks, or more to turn prospects into leads and leads into customers.
Determine how you will gauge success. It’s often said that you can’t manage what you can’t measure. You need metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) to understand if you are winning so you can change tactics if you’re not.
Whether you’re dreaming of getting fit or growing a business, what motivational speaker Jack Canfield says is true: “Vague goals produce vague results.” Specific, measurable goals can create solid results. When planning a product launch, SMART goals provide your team with actionable steps towards strategic objectives.
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