How To Set Marketing Goals You Can Actually Achieve: Advice From The Experts

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One of the things I struggled with the most when I was a Marketing Manager at a SaaS company was learning how to set goals for our department. It sounds like a simple-enough task, but over time I came to see goal-setting as something of an art; it requires practice, constant refinement, focus and a little bit of playfulness (unless you want to drive yourself crazy).

Numerous questions swirled in my mind as I set (and re-set) goals for our marketing department:

How do you set goals that are challenging yet still achievable (is there an exact formula for this, like always shoot for x% more than last month)? How many goals should you set––one, three, six? Should you focus on a new goal every week, month, semester, quarter or year? If you’re a small company and you need to achieve quick growth, how do you pick which goal is most important when there are a billion urgent things that need to happen? How do you stay focused on your goals (once you’ve finally decided on them) and not let other stuff get in the way, like tempting partnership opportunities or new tactics you want to try out?

Aaahh.

I got better at this over time, but it’s definitely still something I struggle with. One of the best ways to figure out how to do something is to find someone more experienced or smarter than you who is already good at it and study how they do it. So I reached out to several top marketers to learn how they go about setting goals that are actually achievable, and then stay focused on these goals and execute like nobody’s business.

Here’s what they had to say:

1. Shanelle Mullin, Director of Marketing at Onboardly

Shanelle Mullin has been working as a marketer since she was just 15 years-old (because who doesn’t decide to become an affiliate marketing expert at 15?), when she helped a three-person startup grow to a million dollar company.

Currently, she is the Director of Marketing at Onboardly, where she helps the company’s startup clients create revenue-generating marketing strategies.

The key to setting achievable marketing goals is to spend time evaluating your current position. Many startups set lofty, unattainable goals and end up discouraged, which can be detrimental in the early days. On the other hand, some startups set easy, insignificant goals and end up missing out on growth potential.

Take the time to really understand your growth levels to date. If you run a popular blog and traffic has increased by 8-10% for the last four months, you know that a 12-15% month-over-month increase in blog traffic is a challenging yet attainable goal. Don’t be the startup that shoots for 20% or the startup that considers anything above 8% a win.

In terms of what types of goals you should be setting, it depends heavily on what stage your startup is in. Early on, focus on engagement goals and collecting feedback to validate your product or service. Later on, focus on growth metrics. There are no universals when it comes to metrics, unfortunately. What’s important is that your core goals are tied to major business objectives.

The single most important thing to remember about marketing goals is to stay focused. Choose 1-2 core goals that impact the bottom line and 3-5 supporting goals. Anything more than that will distract you from what’s most important (as will changing goals too often).

2. Noah Kagan, Founder of AppSumo & the OkDork blog

Noah Kagan is Chief Sumo at AppSumo, a company that connects businesses with great products that will help them succeed––like SumoMe, a simple app that helps you rapidly grow your email list. He helped launch Mint.com as their Director of Marketing, and he was employee number 30 at Facebook. He also writes one of my favorite marketing blogs: OkDork, where he offers thorough, actionable advice on how to improve your marketing.

His posts on quant-based marketing and creating a marketing plan made me determined to know more about how he approaches goal setting.

The most important thing in setting a marketing goal is that it must be authentic. Two years ago I set AppSumo’s goal to help 1 million entrepreneurs. I genuinely knew in my heart I didn’t care about ever reaching that. This year with SumoMe.com we truly want our free marketing tool to reach a billion uniques. Why? Cause it sounds like a big, fun and huge challenge. That’s really us.

Overall there’s no “right” goal; you want something that isn’t easily achievable but also something that’s realistic so you don’t feel overwhelmed. We break our goal into a daily target so––even if our goal is a billion––we know on a specific day if we are on track; for example, in January when we had to be at 10,000 uniques a day.

A key thing with goals that I learned from Facebook is to only have one goal for a specific period of time. It helps with saying no to other distractions you will face during the year.

One HUGE caveat about setting goals is not depending on the goal for your happiness. Instead, you should enjoy the process of getting to the goal. Last year our goal was to sell 3,333 memberships of our How To Make A $1,000 A Month Business course, and on October 30th we got there. For the next two months I felt lost and unsure what to do since I had reached the finish line. It was a great realization––I learned how to focus on processes and enjoy the experience versus just trying to get to your goal.

To stay on track review these goals with your team or by yourself every Monday. If you’re ahead of schedule, keep doing more. Are you behind? If so, what do you need to change?

Get to work!

3. Courtney Seiter, Head of Content Marketing at Buffer

Courtney Seiter heads up content marketing at Buffer, where she’s taken their already-popular social media marketing blog to the next level––their posts consistently get thousands of shares. Previously, she wrote a social media column for Marketing Land and worked as a Community Manager at Raven.

Our goal-setting process at Buffer is always in flux as we experiment, learn and change. But a few main principles help keep us on track throughout the process and make sure our goals are the right mix of workable and challenging (at least, most of the time):

Have a hypothesis.
We love testing and experimenting at Buffer, and we try to go into each new marketing goal with as much information as possible. We talk through what we want to change and why, study past patterns, perform audits, and consider all the possibilities. When you’ve done all the groundwork, it’s easier to have a good idea of what you think will happen as an ideal outcome.

Communicate more than you think you should. 
We review our marketing metrics every week as part of a Friday morning session we call “content visioning.” The frequency of these sessions lets us revisit results right away and move quickly on new ideas to reach our goals faster and avoid surprises. Frequent check-ins and smaller goals on the way to the big goals seem to help us all stay on the same page.

Be OK with failing (sometimes).
Sometimes we make our marketing goals too challenging and we aren’t able to reach them. That’s OK; we don’t know everything! We often can learn as much from those moments as we can from the big triumphs. When this happens, we’ll set up some new experiments to try and start measuring again.

4. Rand Fishkin, Founder of Moz

Rand Fishkin is the founder of Moz, which sells a powerful suite of inbound marketing tools and produces the popular Moz Blog. He’s been tinkering on the web since the early 90s, and for the past decade he’s immersed himself in the world of online marketing, from SEO to social media and content marketing. He now goes by the title Wizard of Moz.

We do our planning on a quarterly basis and use a model that tracks our goals from core purpose —> vision/BHAG —> strategic initiatives —> tactics when building our roadmap.

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In order to make sure our goals are realistic but still challenging, we use the Google model of OKRs, where the key results are always a stretch, and the minimum bar each quarter is to deliver on at least 70% of the planned improvements. It means that we overreach and are always pushing ourselves to perform.

Staying 100% focused on our goals is a constant struggle. We’re not great at this yet, actually 🙂 I think it’s one of the big challenges ahead and we’ll need to find ways to be more disciplined and focused.

5. Ryan Holiday, Director of Marketing at American Apparel, Author & Blogger

Ryan Holiday is proof that the well-traveled path isn’t the only one that leads to success––he dropped out of college at 19 to apprentice under the strategist Robert Greene, and since then he has had an amazing career in marketing and publicity.

He is a media strategist for notorious clients like Tucker Max and Dov Charney as well as the Director of Marketing at American Apparel. He is also the author of Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator, and my favorite book on marketing that I’ve read this year: Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing, and Advertising.

Look, at the end of the day the goal is: asses in seats. What’s critical is that the ways you’re doing it now don’t make it harder for you later. Look at Groupon and other such brands which grew terribly quickly but at the cost of the brand itself. As a marketer, rather than just some growth junkie, your goal is to drive trackable real results without ever letting those aims kill your long term prospects.

6. Kathryn Aragon, Copywriter & Digital Marketer

Kathryn Aragon is an award-winning copywriter, content marketer, consultant and product creator specializing in social content and digital marketing strategies. She gets her clients results––like double the traffic and 6,300% more responses. She is also the editor of The Daily Egg, Crazy Egg’s conversion optimization blog.

I always start with my end goal, and work backwards. Where do I ultimately want to be? What do I want to be doing? And why does it matter? Then I evaluate the tasks and skills I’ll need to reach that goal and their priority. By deciding what needs to be focused on first, second, etc., I essentially create a road map for reaching the goal I’ve set.

Using my list of priorities as a guide, I focus on one step at a time. New ideas may be considered, but if they could get priorities out of order, they have to wait their turn. I generally jot those ideas in a project file, then return focus to the task at hand.

For me, what matters is that progress is being made. Small steps are okay. And so are mistakes. I just want to be constantly working toward the goal and to be able to hit all deadlines on time.

I’ve found this approach to work for new product launches, start-up businesses, as well as personal goals. The key is to get everyone on board before you start and to clearly map out the milestones that need to be hit as we progress toward the goal.

7. Brian Rotsztein, SEO Expert & Digital Strategy Consultant

Brian Rotsztein is an internet strategist and SEO expert. He runs Uniseo, one of the first SEO companies in the world, and RedstoneX, a top web design and development company. He’s been working in internet marketing since 1997 and is a professor at several universities.

We focus on being realistic and tailor the goal-setting process to each client. Far too many clients initially want to “do it all” but then discover they don’t have the staff, creativity, or budget to do what they had envisioned.

We divide projects into a step-by-step process so that clients don’t get overwhelmed. By establishing buyer personas and gathering data about where the target audience spends their time online, we’re better able to define objectives and anticipate consumer needs.

It’s important to understand what the realistic expected outcome could be for the campaign. When you have mutual understanding and respect, it’s significantly easier to collaborate and make adjustments to achieve client objectives and get a better ROI.

Boiling it Down

There’s a lot of great information there, so let’s do a recap. Here are my biggest takeaways from the responses above:

  • Take time to truly understand your current position in order to set achievable marketing goals.
  • Choose 1-2 core goals that impact the bottom line and 3-5 supporting goals. Anything more than that will distract you from what’s most important.
  • Alternatively, try focusing completely on just one goal.
  • Pick goals that you genuinely care about achieving (be authentic).
  • Don’t just focus on the finish line; enjoy the process of achieving your goal.
  • Set the minimum bar at delivering on at least 70% of the planned improvements each quarter.
  • Even marketing superheroes like Rand Fishkin have trouble maintaining laser focus on their goals (phew).
  • Approach each new marketing goal with as much data and information as possible.
  • Make sure your short-term goals always support your long-term prospects.
  • Make sure everyone from your team is on board when setting marketing goals.

Hearing from other marketers about how they approach goal-setting shows that there is no one silver bullet or perfect formula; how you set goals––not just what kind of goals you set––will be different for each company, product, team, manager and client. Nonetheless, simplicity, focus, authenticity, systems and the ability to consider both your short and long-term vision are key.

Now it’s your turn. What’s one tactic that has helped you set achievable marketing goals, and then stay focused on them?

Source: Chloe Mason Gray

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What is a marketing statement?

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A marketing statement tells the reader the “who, what and how” of your company’s plan to achieve its mission. You typically include marketing statements in business plans and executive summaries. They may also appear in sales and marketing documentation and training media.

Mission Statements and Marketing Statements

A mission statement generally provides a short, concise summary of the overall objective of the company or organization, such as “To become the world’s leading supplier of automatic widgets.” A marketing statement goes on to the next step, describing how this mission is to be achieved. It usually answers three questions: who is the target market, what is the company’s product and how is the market to be served. A marketing statement for a widget manufacturer might be along the lines of: “We will create a demand for our cutting-edge automatic widgets by saturating the Internet with verbal and video presentations aimed at middle-aged, low-income consumers — our target market”

Developing the Statement

Because the marketing statement is intended to clarify to the audience the desirability of a product or service to a specific target market using particular marketing methods, the statement may be expanded from a one-liner to a paragraph or more. It can describe what makes the product unique (competitive advantage), how it will benefit the consumer (customer base or niche market) and how the marketing and promotion approach will achieve the desired results.

Using the Statement

The marketing statement defines the company’s approach to selling its product, so, in addition to its presence in the business plan, the statement is useful to remind the sales staff of what they are trying to achieve and how.

Source: Michael Holt

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5 Step Strategic Marketing Process

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Strategic marketing is a planning process that seeks to establish a clear direction and unified purpose for all marketing efforts. Its conclusions are documented in a marketing plan that is regularly updated. The five steps in strategic marketing are: identifying a mission; analyzing the situation; setting objectives; developing a marketing strategy; and planning for evaluation.

Mission

The first step in strategic marketing is to articulate the reason why the enterprise exists and how it can benefit target consumers over the long term. In particular, this mission statement is intended to anticipate the future and describe an ongoing role for the organization’s product, service or expertise. For example, the mission of an airline might be to provide continuing innovation in global transportation. A hospital could state a mission to take the lead in improving public health and education.

Situation Analysis

Organizations conduct a situation analysis, also known as a SWOT, to evaluate and prioritize their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This second step in the strategic marketing process helps managers understand the resources they can build on and the challenges they face. Strengths and weaknesses are internal factors, under the firm’s control. For example, a good image in the fashion press would be a key strength for a dress manufacturer, while a poor relationship with clothing retailers would be a weakness. Opportunities and threats arise from the external environment, like a strong economy or new payroll tax.

Objectives

The third step in strategic marketing is to set marketing objectives. These are clear, measurable goals that give decisionmakers a basis for making choices and assessing progress. Objectives are typically expressed in terms of one or more quantitative targets like revenue, profit, sales or market share. Importantly, each objective must be achievable within a fixed period of time. For example, aiming for a five-percent increase in profits might be realistic within a year, but probably not within one quarter.

Strategy and Evaluation

The fourth step in strategic marketing is strategy development. This involves selecting a target market, a distinct group of consumers who are highly likely to buy the firm’s product. Planners must also choose implementation tactics, specifically, effective ways to use the marketing mix tools of product, promotion, price and distribution to reach and influence prospective buyers. The fifth step, evaluation, means specifying how, when and by whom these tactics are to be monitored and assessed over time.

Source: Amy Handlin

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What is the value of a lead?

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Every firm needs customers, and every customer begins as a lead. So leads are fundamental to business success. But too many executives don’t understand what leads are, or how to value them well enough to make smart investment decisions.

Leads are blocks of information connecting seller and prospect. Unless your business makes all its sales during a first inbound contact, you are going to have leads. But how you handle them—that’s where the profit lies.

Leads are valuable. Firms invest a lot of money generating or buying them. But what should you pay for a lead? What is the price at which are you equally willing to purchase the lead or let it go to a competitor? Sales and marketing managers must understand a lead’s value to avoid over-paying or under-buying sales leads.

Several approaches to lead value calculation are available, based on your firm’s primary sales objective. Are you going for growth, market share, or profit? Your answer to this question will influence not only how you pursue sales, but also how to evaluate your sales leads.

Companies Going for Growth

Growth firms typically set their growth strategies by planning to generate a fixed number of sales. For example, a 1,000-customer firm targeting 30% growth wants 1,300 customers. Adding a few hundred to account for lost sales or cancellations, this firm may determine that it should try to acquire 500 new customers in the period.
To back your way into the number of leads required, divide the number of new customers by your close rate. If this hypothetical 500 new customer firm has a close rate of 10%, they need 5,000 leads. The marketing department’s mission is to acquire them at the lowest possible cost. The value of a lead to this firm is the next highest price from any alternate lead source until the 5,000 lead target is met, and then zero once the full 5,000 leads are purchased. In short, the value of a lead for a growth firm is a step function: The lead value is very high until the growth target is reached, and zero thereafter.

When Your Objective is Market Share

Market share oriented firms are looking for their slice of the industry; it’s not a fixed number of new customers. They will approach leads similarly to a growth-guided firm, but the target number will shift periodically as the market size shifts. Thus, the market share firm’s goal will differ month to month.

The calculation is similar to the growth firm scenario, but it requires some fancy footwork to apply. Lead value will still be a step function, but the step size moves very quickly. You will still divide the number of new customers desired by the close ratio, but you’ll be working with a very short term lead target. Because this target moves, the marketing department needs considerable flexibility to keep adjusting the lead requirements.

Firms That Strike a Balance

Most firms seek the highest number of profitable customers, irrespective of whether they are going for growth or share. These firms purchase leads to the point at which customer acquisition cost equals customer lifetime value. When these two goals reach equilibrium, the firm stops buying leads.

In such situations, you can compute the value of a lead by knowing your salesperson costs, your close rate, and the value of an account, and applying the following formula.

Lead Value = (Account Value – Salesperson Cost) * Close Rate

This is the lead pricing formula. With this in hand, plus an understanding of your primary sales goal, you will be well on your way to an accurate assessment of how much to pay for a lead.

Source: Jeff Feuer

Complete Media Inc is a Sioux Falls marketing, advertising, website design and web hosting company specializing in web design, maintenance and hosting services.

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Improve Your Closing Ratios with Marketing

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On average, it takes 75 cold calls to make one sale to a net new customer.

Recently I was speaking at an event and a sales rep selling training services noted that in her industry the number is closer to 1 in 125. Either way, the numbers are high!

On average, clients see a closing ratio of 1:2 for referred leads and 1:5 for call-ins. Knowing that, wouldn’t it be better for everyone to change your sales strategy to focus on increasing referred leads and calls-ins?

How can you get more referrals? As a quick tip: ask for them every day. Most sales people I coach don’t have a habit of asking for referrals regularly, nor do they have a referral strategy that is consistently executed. Therefore, most sales reps don’t have a consistent flow of referred leads into their business.

How can you increase call-ins? Write. Take some time to write a few quick tip articles that are relevant to your client base and can help them grow their business. If you have convention space at a hotel, write about the “Top 10 Things to Consider When Booking Your Next Convention;” if you sell lawn tractor equipment, try “The Best 5 Ways to Ensure a Healthy Lawn This Summer.” The options are endless, and the trade magazines that serve your customer base are hungry for content.

I have found that writing and publishing articles are the best ways to get customers to call you. Why? Because the articles you write define you as an expert in your field and position you as a valuable partner, not just a sales person. The more often your articles appear online or in print, the more relevant you become to your clients and prospects, and the more they will want to do business with you.

Don’t wait for your marketing department to write for you. Do it you yourself. Start with a five-tip article that focuses in your area. Write out the five points first, and then add a paragraph or two of detail below each. You will end up with a 250-500 word article perfect for publishing. Be sure to send to all the relevant trade publications (online and off) with your contact information and website!

Source: Colleen Francis

Complete Media Inc is a Sioux Falls marketing, advertising, website design and web hosting company specializing in web design, maintenance and hosting services.

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How Does Target Market Media Consumption Affect Strategy?

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Knowing the media-consumption habits of a target audience can help a business owner create an effective marketing campaign. For example, if target consumers favor a particular media channel – such as a television station, radio station, magazine or newspaper – you can use that information to deliver your marketing messages directly to them.

Consumption

Your target customers may enjoy a particular aspect or offering of the media channel. For example, they might watch a specific television program, listen to a particular radio show or flip directly to the sports section of the newspaper. Understanding media consumption habits in this respect helps you place your advertisement effectively within the media channel.

Context

It also helps to know what consumers are doing while they are using a media channel. Suppose a car dealership decides to reach its audience by advertising on a radio station in the morning. Knowing that most people are driving to work at this time of the day, the dealership might design an advertisement that speaks directly to commuters by explaining how a comfortable car can ease the pain of sitting in traffic jams. Similarly, if the dealership knows target consumers tune in to the radio station while they are busy working or making dinner, its advertisement might use loud jingles and sound effects to catch the listener’s attention.

Market Research

Business owners can hire a market research firm to help determine strategies for reaching a particular segment of the population. Market researchers draw on a large variety of techniques to study consumer behavior to create behavioral profiles and help advertisers tailor marketing campaigns to the consumption habits of their target audience. Researchers might use surveys, focus groups and questionnaires to generate a database of media consumption habits. They then use statistical methods to identify consumption patterns, providing valuable insights that help advertisers identify the most cost-effective strategies for reaching an audience.

Media Planners and Buyers

Media planners and buyers help businesses implement marketing campaigns. These experts can orchestrate complex strategies, such as airing television commercials in short bursts during periods when the target customers are likely to be watching. The alternative approach – airing commercials during every available period – would drain an advertising budget unnecessarily. While hiring all these marketing experts might seem expensive, the investment pays off if you can avoid wasting money on ineffective strategies.

Source: Stan Mack

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5 Tips to Help You Easily Create a Great E-Newsletter

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This month’s podcast discuss our top 5 ideas for taking the stress out of writing a great e-newsletter.  We discuss easy ways for generating solid content, how to implement them in to your campaign, and how to keep readers wanting more.

If you have questions or comments, please feel free to contact us.  If you’re ready to start your campaign, click here for more info.

E-Newsletter Marketing

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This month’s podcast is on E-Newsletter marketing.  Listen as hosts Matt and Micah discuss the top benefits of using this powerful web tool.  Learn how to increase your reputation, enhance the quality of leads and save money with an E-Newsletter campaign!

If you have questions or comments, e-mail us here.  If you’re ready to start your campaign, click here for more info.