Marketing might seem like a really vague term. How do you measure marketing? How do you know if what you’re doing is effective at all? Everyone talks about how important analytics are but how do you even interpret them? Analytics don’t do you any good if you don’t know how use them! If you take the information you have and just say “I want more followers on Twitter” doesn’t really mean much and it won’t help your business. You have to be strategic about your goals. The best way to do that is to use the SMART goal-setting system. If you haven’t caught on yet, SMART is an acronym. It stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. So let’s break these down:


The primary goal of any marketer should be to bring more business to the company, but that’s not really clear. Be specific about your goals. Instead of saying, “I want to have more sales” you might say “I want to increase my monthly sales by 5%”. That statement implies that you need to know what your current sales numbers are and calculate how much 5% more would be. It also gives you a time to achieve that goal within. Specific goals give clear and definitive benchmarks for you and your team.


Every business owner knows that some aspects of their business aren’t really measurable, at least not in terms of numbers. Customer satisfaction and community engagement are just 2 aspects of business success that can be difficult to calculate. You can find ways to give value to terms that may, at first, seem unclear, though. Maybe ‘community engagement’ can be represented by likes and comments on social media. ‘Customer satisfaction’ could be measured with a survey question and rating. Always be sure that you can define your goals with a clear, quantifiable measurement. This will give you a concrete understanding of your marketing situation and where you can make improvements.


Any goal-setting system should emphasize that your goals should be achievable. Make sure that your team agrees that the goals you’ve set are within reach. The easiest way to discourage yourself and your employees is to set out-of-reach goals for yourselves. One of the best ways to make sure that your goals are achievable is to set forth a simple plan outlining how to reach those goals. If you intend to have 100 more clicks per month on your website, first ask yourself what steps will be taken to help your business reach that goal. From there, evaluate with your team to see if that seems doable or not.


Business goals have to be considered within the context of the local economic and physical environment. It may not be realistic to set a goal of getting 20 additional people through the front doors every single day if the local economy seems to be on a downslope. This also includes logistical questions and concerns. 20 additional customers will also be hard to come by if you have construction going on next door that impedes their parking or walkway. There are hundreds of examples of situations that could impact your business and they all need to be taken into account when determining how realistic your marketing goals are.


This last one is the kicker for some people, especially those procrastinators (you know who you are). Increasing sales by 5% in 3 months is very different than increasing sales by 5% in 3 years, which might be a sign of stagnation. That’s not to say that you should only make short-term goals, rather that you should consider your short- and long-term objectives separately. How could a 5% increase in sales over 3 months have a more positive impact over the course of 3 years? Maintaining a sales increase like that would be hard but given the right circumstances, it could lead to a new storefront, or a contract with a major distributor. Keep your goals within a timeline that makes sense and re-evaluate on a schedule so you can stay on task and update as needed.

The term ‘SMART Goals’ can be found in any Marketing 101 book or course. What makes this system invaluable is that it helps you narrow down exactly what you want to accomplish. Setting the right goals is how you turn your marketing plan into an effective strategy. Plus, it’s a lot easier to reach a goal if you know what that goal is!

Be Specific.

Use Measurable Objectives.

Know What’s Achievable.

Keep it Realistic.

Stay on Time.


Written by: Randi Zimmermann

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