The French author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wrote, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” That holds true in both our business and personal lives. It’s also why many organizations use the SMART system to separate real goals and objectives from wishful thinking.
This system is an effective way to bring clarity, simplicity and progress to any endeavor. While time has brought some variations in the specific words used, SMART usually stands for:
Every goal you set or objective you want to meet should be judged by all or most of these guidelines.
- Specific: Cleary defined and targeted
- Measurable: Can be quantified (monitored and demonstrated) in a straightforward manner
- Agreed-Upon: Is understood, communicated and has support throughout the organization
- Realistic: Firmly grounded in business reality and accomplishable through focused effort
- Time-Bound: Subject to a specific schedule
Once you’ve established your business goals, it’s vital that your marketing objectives align with them. Otherwise, you risk wasting marketing dollars, confusing or disappointing customers, and damaging your brand.
Think it through.
Consider the following hypothetical.
Two years ago, the owner of Big Bob’s Barbecue was losing his lunch crowd to a new buffet-style restaurant across the street. The proprietor’s knee-jerk reaction was to begin offering a lunch buffet. While the new offering brought back regulars and attracted new customers, the buffet approach made his lunch business less profitable.
It’s time for Bob to get SMART. The first step is to create a well thought-out business goal that meets the criteria: restore the restaurant’s profits to pre-buffet levels within six months, and increase revenue by 5% over the course of the fiscal year.
Putting it into Action.
Now that Bob has determined what he is looking to do in terms of his business performance, it is time to build a marketing objective that will help Bob achieve this goal.
Marketing objectives generally focus on impacting business through:
- Pricing and profitability
- Distribution and / or location
- Competitive share
Bob’s knee-jerk decision to change his product offering to include a buffet at lunch was ill-conceived because it was not based on business goals. Rather, it was a copy-cat competitive reaction. Much like everything in business, marketing objectives should be objective and backed by research—not hunches or whimsical endeavors.
To restore profitability and increase revenue year-over-year, Bob’s marketing goal is to drive profitability through pricing tactics, specifically, by introducing and promoting higher-margin items. From here, it is easy to see how this objective can be made SMART: by adding product specifics, a target share of product mix, and a timeline for achieving.
The next step is the bring the objective to life through strategic initiatives and tactics. In Bob’s case, he may develop new “products,” such as appetizers, desserts, and beverages, that have a relatively low price point—making them easy to add-on and increase average check size—but are also higher margin.
Think back to the fundamental business goal: restore the restaurant’s profits to pre-buffet levels within six months, and increase revenue by 5% over the course of the fiscal year. Bob’s marketing objective includes higher margin items that will help offset the buffet customers, and the menu of add-on items will increase check size and help achieve the goal of 5% revenue lift.
We can help.
Bob’s case has been greatly simplified for ease in understanding, but translating business objectives into marketing goals isn’t always so easy and straight-forward, even for seasoned marketing professionals. We love partnering with clients to understand their businesses better and developing marketing strategies that will move the needle and deliver results. If you’re struggling to get started with your marketing plan—or if you would like a consultation on the work you have in progress, contact us online or call 888.573.4773, and let us help shape your world.
2. “There’s a S.M.A.R.T. Way to Write Management’s Goals and Objectives,” Doran, G. T. Management Review, 1981.