Owner of Criterion.B, overseeing client strategy and company culture.
Obviously, every company wants to make progress in all of their marketing endeavors. Unfortunately, simply wanting this does not make a sustainable business plan.
You likely already know this, but do you put this goal into practice at the beginning of every year and re-evaluate at the start of each new quarter like clockwork? If not, then you may need this reminder: To truly create “success steps,” as I like to call them, it’s critical to set and define specific annual marketing goals for your company on a regular basis.
Here’s the process I follow when setting goals at the beginning of each year as well as some examples of the goals my team is aiming to achieve in 2021:
1. Meet as a Team to Discuss Priorities
Goals cannot be set without pre-defined priorities.
Further, each member of your team needs to have a concrete understanding of each priority for the appropriate goals to be set and then met. It’s great if the CEO and marketing director know the priorities, but overall ineffective if all the individuals who will be working under those umbrellas are not kept in the loop.
As for what those priorities should be, it’s a very specific picture for every company. For example, the priorities for my marketing company in 2021 surround:
• Exemplifying our core values on a monthly basis
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• Enacting detailed campaign planning for ourselves just as we do for our clients
• Becoming more coordinated with our individual efforts
• Increasing the awareness of our new product
• Regularly driving traffic to our website and blogs
As a reminder, priorities are the areas where you want the most focus to be; they are not numbers, percentages or estimates.
2. Start a Shared Spreadsheet
This might sound overly simple, but creating an Excel document or Google spreadsheet for your annual marketing goals is the best way to go when planning. You can lay out and organize all of your company’s main objectives in one place that is easily accessible for every team member. Then, you can also have multiple tabs — one for each priority or each month, whichever you prefer.
The overarching annual goal sheet should contain every single goal you want to focus on in the upcoming year. As a rule of thumb: if it’s not in the sheet, it’s not a goal.
Additionally, each goal should be followed by a list of items that are needed to achieve said goal. For example, to increase traffic to your website, you will need to continuously improve the SEO of your site, add new pages, upload blogs and publish social posts and ads that direct back to your website. Goals need action steps!
Keep Your Goals List Finite
This point needs its own section because I believe having a narrower, targeted list is the key to keeping your marketing goals attainable. Setting and writing goals doesn’t automatically make them doable. The amount of time your team has in a week and the number of employees you have doesn’t change even though your goals do.
For reference, my two content writers have set 10 main goals for 2021, some of which includes writing two long-form blogs which we call “pillar posts,” growing our weekly email list to 500 subscribers and crafting 12 more downloadable marketing offers. These all serve our main priority of increasing the awareness of our new product.
Based on their time and achievements last year, I know that these goals are attainable and not an overwhelming venture.
3. Analyze the Previous Year’s Achievements
It can be really difficult to set number-oriented goals; it can often feel like you’re just throwing random numbers into the wind just to get something on the page.
That is why it is incredibly important to look back at the actual numbers and percentages of growth you achieved in the previous year. You can use these as a basis for what you believe you can achieve next.
For example, in 2020, one of our team’s marketing goals was to reach over 1,000 Instagram followers on a new account we launched. We exceeded that goal, with 1,300 followers, by the end of December. By looking at our track record, we found that we were able to increase our followers by 58% year over year. This allowed us to confidently set 3,000 Instagram followers as a goal for 2021. This decision was based on a combination of knowing the rate at which we’ve been growing and knowing we can build on it even more.
4. Attach a Number to Each Goal
Every goal you set should have a number attached to it whether it’s monetary-based, a percentage increase or a milestone number. To repeat, this is why analyzing past growth is key.
Want more email subscribers? How many? Want more blog traffic? How much?
In reality, using the word “more” as your benchmark is not an attainable plan. Sure, you can get more, but it cuts off your ability to track your progress and build upon it year after year.
5. Set Stretch Goals
In my experience, stretch goals are attainable goals and by not setting them, you are either underestimating or limiting your abilities as a team.
Now, not every aim should have a stretch goal; that’s not attainable. You should set stretch goals for your true, top priorities and the areas where you have exceeded benchmarks in the past.
As stated earlier, my team set a goal of 3,000 Instagram followers for 2021. As well, though, we set an added stretch goal of 5,000 because we exceeded our goal once and we believe with the foundation set, we can exceed it again.
Respect Your Team
Setting attainable goals is all about respecting your team; it says that you care enough to give them benchmarks to follow and you believe in them enough to reach them.
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Author: Jon Simpson, Forbes Councils Member