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“I want to do a Google campaign.” “We need TV commercials.” “Let’s try skywriting.”

Too often, organizations want to jump right into marketing without fully developing a strategy behind their tactics. But without a solid plan in place, you could be throwing money at marketing efforts that don’t help you and your business get ahead.

In this three part series, we’ll share our approach to creating a strategic marketing plan: deciding what you want to accomplish, creating a plan to achieve it, and evaluating the results.

Illustrated map with a route highlighted to represent strategic marketing plans

Setting Effective Marketing Goals (A.K.A. Your Roadmap for the Year)

Where does your organization want to be a year from now? 5 years?

Where does your marketing team want to be?

By identifying your intended destination, you can start mapping out how to get there.

Whether you do all your marketing in-house or partner with an outside agency, the first step in any successful strategic marketing plan is aligning on goals. Organizational goals are a great place to start, but don't always directly translate to marketing activities. Teams should set marketing specific goals that support both their organization as a whole and their growth as a team.

To begin this process, brainstorm a list of all the goals that your marketing team could set in the year without regard to time and resources. This list will be long, and probably daunting, but should provide inspiration for what is realistically possible.

The next step is to begin narrowing your list down to only your team’s top priorities that you will focus on accomplishing. We typically shoot for 3-5 goals per planning period (usually a full calendar or fiscal year). This allows your team to remain focused, with an emphasis more on depth than breadth.

When deciding which goals to prioritize, there are a few important things to consider:

  1. What is meaningful to your organization? Even if your goals are specific to your marketing team (i.e. growing your skills), make sure you are committing your focus and resources to something that will benefit your organization and help achieve enterprise level goals. Ensuring that your plans are aligned with the organization will gain greater buy in and set you up for success.

  2. What do you have control over? If your goals don’t account for your marketing team’s specific areas of influence, they likely aren’t in your control and will be difficult to achieve. For example, if your marketing and sales teams are not combined, setting a goal to increase sales is not something in the marketing team’s control. Similarly, if you set a goal to attend 3 in-person conferences but don’t have access to a large professional development budget, that goal likely isn’t achievable.

  3. Will there be any unintended consequences? The nature of prioritizing something, means other things become a lower priority. Think through whether a goal will negatively impact critical areas of your work by taking away too many resources or being contradictory to those efforts.

    Also consider whether there are actions that may harm your organization that could be taken to achieve a goal. For example, if a goal is to increase e-commerce sales, one quick way to accomplish that is to cut the price of all your products in half to move more product out the door. This likely would result in lost profit and does not match what was intended by this goal. Being clear and precise with your goals helps avoid this situation. In this case, you may say the goal is to increase e-commerce sales while maintaining profit margin.

Adding Structure to Your Goals

Once you have aligned on your top 3-5 goals, it’s time to give them some structure. While there are many approaches out there, we like to clarify and quantify goals using the tried and true “SMART” goals framework: Specific, Measurable, Agreed-Upon, Realistic, and Time-Based.

Illustrated road sign that says SMART Goals: Specific, Measurable, Agreed On, Realistic, Time Based

Using this framework, goal statements often look something like this:

  • Increase the total number of qualified leads by 15% by the end of 2023.
  • Attend at least one industry webinar per month to grow industry knowledge.
  • Improve user engagement on our website by July 1, 2023, to be measured using Google Analytics and CrazyEgg data.
  • Create broader awareness of the new deluxe widget by May 15, to be measured by customer surveys.

You’ll notice that all of these goals define what tool or metric we’ll use to determine whether or not we’ve met the goal, but don’t always note specific numbers we want to improve upon. Don’t stop yourself from creating a goal because you don’t know exactly where you are starting out.

In the next installment of this series, we will talk about turning these goals into an actionable plan - often starting with establishing relevant benchmarks.

Let's Talk Strategy.

If you need a partner in your strategic marketing planning process, connect with us! We can work with your marketing team to turn your vision into an actionable roadmap.