“Begin with the end in mind.”
– Steven Covey
In my previous post, Your 2011 Marketing Plan, Part 1: The Value of Setting Goals and Planning, I addressed the importance of setting goals. At this time, I’d like to take it a step further by discussing how to set meaningful and measurable goals that become a critical part of a successful marketing plan.
But first, I’d like to step back and take note of what I believe are the two most compelling takeaways of that previous post. First, as personal development guru Brian Tracy tells us, people who set down written goals are significantly more successful than those who do not. And second, despite this evidence, just 3% of us actually go through the process of setting down written goals and tracking our progress toward them in a methodical manner.
Why is this? Perhaps setting goals seems pointless; perhaps tracking them seems difficult. Whatever the reasons behind this anomaly, it’s undeniable that for lawyers and other businesspeople the stakes involved are much higher than whether they lose that last ten pounds or run a 10K at a particular pace. In fact, the high failure rate of new ventures is testament to the inability of many entrepreneurs to effectively set marketing goals and track their progress in achieving them.
How are you going to attract clients? What five or 10 things are you going to do on a regular basis? What does that effort look like when it’s folded into your weekly schedule? Ultimately, the answers to these questions can be found through the hard work that is the development and execution of a strategic marketing plan.
So, how does one set goals – and follow through on them? You can set your marketing objectives only after you know who you are and where you want to go. That can involve quite a lot of work all by itself. What makes you different? What is your unique selling proposition? What does your target market look like? Where can they be found? How can they find you?
Only after figuring out the answers to these fundamental questions can you follow up that work with goal setting. I believe in setting goals that follow the SMART mnemonic, which can be a useful tool to ensure that your goals are both meaningful and measurable.
SMART goals first came about nearly 30 years ago in the project management field, and their longevity is testament to their enduring value, no matter how much else has changed in the world. The SMART goal rubric has been defined in many similar, if slightly different, ways as a means of identifying worthy goals, each of which must pass the following test:
• Strategic and specific – Every marketing goal should tie into the organization’s larger goals, i.e., its business goals. Additionally, every goal should be concrete and well defined. An objective of wanting to have “a better year at work” or a goal of “obtaining more new clients” wouldn’t possess the necessary specificity to pass this test, whereas “doubling our revenues” would.
• Measurable – Related to specificity, when a goal is measurable you’ll always know how close you are to it. “Getting as much market share as Dewey Cheatem” might not pass this test, whereas “getting a one-third market share” would be better. “Bringing in $X for our IP work” would be best of all. Without measurability, you won’t know how far away you are from your goal – or even if you’ve already surpassed it.
• Achievable – This means that it’s an attainable goal that’s primarily within your power to achieve, even if it needs the assistance of other parties to make it happen. A goal of “winning the lottery” would not pass this test, whereas “obtaining 10 new clients” would pass. “Getting a promotion” would likely fall into a grey area somewhere in between these examples.
• Realistic – Related to achievable, the goal needs to be not only within your ability to achieve, but it should fit into your life and lifestyle. If you’ve just become the parent of triplets, are you likely to be able to bill 3,000 hours this year? (Well, perhaps, but that’s another issue.)
• Time-sensitive – The goal must have a deadline attached, or it’s not a sufficiently concrete goal to pass this test. As has been said before, “Goals are dreams with deadlines.” Making goals time-sensitive keeps you accountable.
So, now it’s time to review. First, you made the commitment to constructing a marketing plan. Next, you figured out what makes you special and to whom, and then you determined how to best reach those people or organizations. Finally, you compiled a list of marketing goals that will help you do just that. All you have left to do is integrate into your calendar the steps that make up those goals. After accomplishing that task, you will have your marketing plan in place for the next year, and then it will be time to execute. And that’s where the accountability part comes in.
And, in fact, that’s what the marketing plan is all about – setting up a program that will keep you accountable. When 2011 has gone by, you will have been that much more successful because the critical steps that you needed to take to grow your business will have been accomplished.
Wishing you happiness, health and prosperity in the New Year.