When you are just starting to think about your goals, you are like “hey, we want to be the best marketing agency in our region” or “we want to be the agency that delivers the best conversion rates for our clients”. All of this sounds so cool and fun when you picture it in your mind.
And then comes one small, simple, yet significant question: “How the hell do we do that?”
Oh yes. We have all been there, haven’t we? Because there are a billion things that need to go right and done right in order for this to happen. But plans don’t always go right (in fact, no plan ever goes 100% right) so there is always something dragging you back.
And even if we consider for a second that plans may go right, how do we actually set realistic, attainable, yet challenging goals year after year? I mean, is there a certain formula that some X must be greater than Y each month/year? Is 1 goal a good number? Or maybe you need 4, or 6? How much of your time should you allocate to a certain goal? A month, maybe 2? How often do you start a new goal? Do you strive to accomplish one goal first and then move to the next one?
Well damn, this isn’t getting anywhere. Turns out setting goals isn’t a piece of cake after all. For this purpose, we have put together a few guidelines on how to deal with the goal setting problem and come out as a winner in the end.
1.Understand your current situation
This is one of the fundamental things that you need to do, before you can set any kind of goal for yourself, your team or company. A lot of companies aren’t being reasonable and base their goals on stuff (or data) that is illusionary or temporary.
Thing is, if you set your expectations too high, you will end up wasting a whole lot of time on trying to achieve something that proved to be impossible.
Set your expectations too low though, and risk missing on brilliant opportunities that could otherwise have taken your business one or two steps closer to your goal by now.
Here is an example:
If your website got 5% more visits for a month, it doesn’t really mean that it will be the same the next month. So setting a goal on 10% month over month increase might not be the best idea. If you get 4-6% consistent growth for a few months in a row though, 10% actually sounds reasonable. Yes, it will be hard to accomplish, but at least you have based your goal on realistic stuff, not illusions or luck.
Key takeaway: Before you can set any realistic and reasonable goals, you need to clearly define what your current situation is. Be completely honest with yourself about the matter and don’t jump too far forward. Everything should be achieved in due time, not overnight.
2. Stay focused on your goal
This is important. 1 goal at a time, not five, not three, not even two. Just one.
Because if you don’t, you WILL mess up.
There is a concept in marketing called “destination planning”. This is very much like setting a goal, only it’s the grand goal for your company. What is it that you want to achieve at the very end of your journey? Maybe you run a restaurant and want to have a branch in each major capital all over the world? Or maybe you are a SaaS company and want to sell your product to 1 billion people? Your destination could be anything really, any one thing.
Back in the days when a single computer was as big as half your office, Bill Gates had a destination for Microsoft: “A computer in every home”. Well, he has almost done it, as we can see today.
That’s why it’s called destination. You want to achieve something and you are working hard to eventually get to the endpoint. That is your ultimate desire, your company’s destination. But if you set more than one such goal, or get involved with all the opportunities on your way, you will probably never get there, and suddenly, your whole destination planning is reduced to dust. Gone.
This same concept can (and should) be applied to smaller goals, like increasing your website traffic by 10% each month for instance. Focus on the one goal you have at a time, and only take those opportunities that will help you achieve it faster. Ask yourself “will this help me increase website traffic by 10% each month? If yes, then go for it, if no, then goodbye.
Key takeaway: Focus on the goal at hand. If you encounter any opportunities on your way, be sure to take advantage of them only if they support your goal, otherwise wave them off.
3. Make sure your short term goals support long term goals
Continuing on the concept of destination planning. You always want to make sure that your short term goals support long term ones. Why? Because it’s all tied together. There is no such thing as a “separate goal”, or rather, there shouldn’t be if you want to achieve success.
In this context, your longest term goal is achieving the destination set. All the other goals, whether they are set for a week, month or a year, need to support your destination. Think of it like a treasure map, the only difference is that you set the checkpoints yourself and need to be careful about the traps/opportunities that will definitely come up on your journey.
Key takeaway: We are talking about one big organism here. Everything smaller in the system must support the larger ones, just like in a human’s body, or you will end up with nothing eventually.
4. Have a realistic expectation of your goal
If we take into account that no plan ever goes 100% right, it will be a good idea to set realistic expectations of what we will end up with in the end and that will probably be some portion of the goal we had in mind.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that you will never be able to meet your goals 100%. What I am saying is that you need to have some kind of a threshold that when achieved, will mean that you still did a pretty awesome job.
So for example if you have consistently growing website traffic of 4000/monthly and you calculated and set a goal of getting 10.000 visitors in 3 months, but managed to get only 8000, it’s still an awesome job. Yes, you didn’t reach your initial goal, but you DID double your website traffic in just three months. That’s still a great achievement if you ask me.
This is done mainly to keep your motivation and sanity intact, in case you don’t achieve a number of goals you set for yourself and your team over time. Oftentimes, it’s not even your fault, things just didn’t work out due to various reasons not even connected to you. But your work shouldn’t be considered in vain.
The threshold can vary from team to team, industry to industry and company to company. Generally, something between 70-80% of the original goal should be considered good enough. You didn’t score A+, but hey, A- isn’t all that bad, right?
Key takeaway: Having some kind of threshold or zero point, at which you can consider your goal “satisfactory” is important. This will help keep your motivation and sanity intact, just in case you fail to achieve 100% goal competition a number of times in a row. Usually, 70-80% of the original goal is a good aim.
5. Break down your goal into everyday goals
This is a good tactic for long-term, complicated goals. For instance, your goal might be “increasing conversion rates by 10% in 6 months”. In order to achieve this though, you will need quite a lot of things, particularly:
- A good content strategy
- Conversion optimization strategy
- Lead nurturing strategy
- Social media strategy
These are just the first things that pop to mind, there may be a lot more. The thing is, you probably can’t do everything at once, especially if you are low on budget, so you will need to break up your main goal into smaller goals:
- Set the content generation strategy in the first month
- Gain more authority and social proof in the second
- Nurture leads during the whole time
- Work towards optimizing conversion for 2-6 months
This can be one reasonable way to break everything down for the given example. Then just assign every day tasks to each of those goals and start working.
Key takeaway: When working towards a complex goal, you will have a much easier time achieving it if you know what you have to do every day for the next six months for instance. That way you won’t end up thinking on how to actually achieve the goal, but work for it, day by day.
6. Set goals that you really care about achieving
Because otherwise why even bother?
At the end of the day, there is no right or wrong goal you set for yourself or your company or team (as long as it’s based on data and is reasonable). What matters is that you need to really feel hyped to achieve it.
Remember the last time you set a goal for yourself (doesn’t necessarily have to be a marketing goal, any goal will do), something that you really liked doing and wanted to achieve. Wasn’t that one of the best times in your life? The whole process of doing what you enjoy and striving to reach greatness in one form or another.
Marketing is no different, even more, it’s a huge part of your life, so you might as well enjoy it as you grow and make progress. It’s good for your company, for your career, team and for yourself.
Key takeaway: Set goals that you care about. Your job is a big part of your life and if there is no joy in it, it all becomes pretty miserable and useless in the end.
Setting goals correctly involves quite a bit of thinking, more than anybody expects the first time they actually get to doing it. Always keep the big picture in mind: what is it that you ultimately want to achieve? Get that thing down straight, and work backwards from it until you know what you need to do every day. Starting today.
Rotem Elimelech is Partner & VP Products in Adoric. As head of product, Rotem makes sure adoric’s team is delivering the best performance products around the market. He has 8 years of experience in planning, designing and marketing of digital products. Former founder of Radical Fox and Creatives.
Visit Adoric website: https://adoric.com/