Ah. Such a simple title. Such a complex problem. Such huge stakes at play for marketing and the company as a whole.
Now that we’ve seen what can happen when strategy is misaligned, let’s explore how to set a good strategy on the right course from the get go.
Another acronym framework can be useful here for evaluating goals and objectives – using SMART, which stands for:
A S.M.A.R.T. goal is defined as being: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-focused, and Timebound.
This simple little acronym will help you stay on track when you sit down for creative brainstorms and defining goals for a digital marketing campaign or a business itself. Without being specific, you can’t measure anything. If it’s not achievable and results-focused it makes it tough to justify the investment and know if you’re getting anywhere. Finally, not putting a time limit down makes it easy to drag out an initiative.
Let’s say we’re tasked with a vague directive like “marketing needs to increase overall sales for the company”.
We would come back with the following questions for a smart digital strategy:
- Specific: “Are we talking increasing profitability or just overall sales? Internally, we would ask ourselves how we might do this using our POST framework. For example, we might say “We’ll increase sales and profitability by increasing site traffic to our most profitable product through a blend of social media, content creation, and search engine rankings.”
- Measurable: Next, we’d ask “By what percentage points?” We need to know what the mark is and that it can indeed be quantified. Know what you’ll be measuring and how you’ll do it before you commit. You might need to bump up website traffic by 300% over the year to drive 5% in sales. That’s measurable for sure (and tough to do). Something nebulous like “grow brand awareness in our market” is too vague to quantify.
- Achievable: This question is critical: “Is this goal realistic given our brand’s trajectory, resources, and time?” Make sure you review things like sales history, market trends, site traffic and your customer feedback to make sure the goal is possible. If the company has experienced year over year sales growth of 5% and suddenly the goal is 20% with no other change in the product mix or budget, it is likely that marketing is getting setup for a spectacular failure. Building a powerful brand takes time, money, and ingenuity – which eventually leads to better sales and/or margins. Yet, digital marketing for all its speed can’t work miracles.
- Results-focused: Perhaps the most important question: “How will we know we’re making progress?” Here is where you put down the small victories, in relation to the big goal. If the goal is for increasing sales by 5% over the whole year, you might break down site traffic by month and increasing it by X% through the ideas outlined above. Closely following conversions and sales on a weekly basis can be very helpful to tweak the marketing efforts versus waiting til the very end. Small corrections done on a regular basis are much easier than giant shifts.
- Timebound: Last question: “This goal for the fiscal year or calendar year?” Know how much time you have to achieve the objective. Some companies go by a different fiscal calendar versus a traditional calendar, so make sure you know how long you have to deliver the result.
The above framework is really just a simple checklist. But it ensures you have nailed all the key components for getting a successful strategy together.
Next up, let’s explore a B2B example on how to do this.