If you’re a small business owner or solopreneur who doesn’t feel 100-percent confident writing a marketing plan, you may have decided to skip that step altogether and jump right into implementation. You try to do all the marketing you can to get traction in your business now, rather than later.
But you wouldn’t drive from California to Florida without your favorite GPS or navigation app if you’d never been there before, right?
Likewise, when you’re ready to think long term about what you want to accomplish with your business, it’s important to create a marketing plan to use as your roadmap for getting there. It might seem like an overwhelming task, especially if you’re new to business or don’t have a lot of experience with marketing, but it’s better to have at least some idea of where you’re going before you start the journey.
As part of creating your marketing plan, develop marketing goals. Otherwise, you won’t know when (or even if) you’re on track and how to recalibrate and keep making progress if you’re not.
What are marketing goals, and how do they fit into your overall marketing plan?
If you’ve done any kind of research on this topic, you’ve probably come across the term “SMART goals.” SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
While your marketing goals should meet those criteria, if you’re just getting started and want to make the process less intimidating, think of your marketing goals as simply the results you want to achieve with your marketing. They’re the building blocks of your marketing plan and should support your overall business goals.
When you begin to research marketing terms, you’ll likely come across many phrases that seem to mean the same thing — marketing goals, marketing objectives, marketing targets, and so on. It can get pretty confusing. But not to worry; we’ve created an in-depth guide on how to create a marketing plan that breaks everything down into an easy-to-implement template.
For our purposes here, marketing goals are more of a broad top-level view of what you want to accomplish in the long term, while marketing objectives are the specific actions, made up of short- to medium-term activities, that will help you achieve your marketing goals. Both marketing goals and marketing objectives are sections within your marketing plan.
Your marketing goals will depend entirely upon your high-level business goals, the kind of business you have, who your target audience is, whether you plan to go big or keep it small and mighty, and a host of other factors.
For example, let’s say you’re a small business owner or solopreneur, and one of your marketing goals is to generate six figures in revenue in your second year of business using online marketing methods, with a focus on inbound marketing. In your second year, you want to onboard five new clients per month, again using inbound marketing as your main marketing strategy.
Based on your first goal, your marketing objectives for generating six figures in revenue via online methods might be
- Launch a website with offers specifically geared to meet the needs of your target audience in the first quarter.
- Create an email list opt-in and related email nurture sequence, and get 1,000 new subscribers by the end of year one.
- Use targeted content marketing and SEO best practices to drive traffic to the website and build an audience of potential clients and buyers.
Based on your second goal, your marketing objectives for onboarding five new clients per month via inbound marketing could include
- Lead generation from an email list. Once new subscribers go through the initial email welcome sequence, send a low-key, easy-to-say-yes-to offer of products or services.
- Lead generation from social media. Add a link to the email opt-in landing page to all social media bios. Interact on social platforms where ideal clients and customers hang out, answering questions and delivering value. Drive traffic back to the landing page so people can opt into the email list, where they’ll be nurtured further.
- Lead generation from blog content. Write an in-depth case study/client success story or a teardown/demonstration blog post that doubles as a lead-generation piece three times per quarter. Include a call to action at the end of each lead-gen post, inviting people to reach out for further help.
This example highlights the difference between marketing goals and marketing objectives, and demonstrates how the broader marketing goal naturally leads to a more specific marketing objective.
In contrast, poorly defined marketing goals are more like “I want to generate six figures in revenue” or “I want to get new clients.” These marketing goals don’t meet the SMART criteria.
If you wanted to create a larger business with lots of employees and much higher revenue targets, your marketing goals would obviously look very different from those above. Keep this in mind when you’re setting your goals.
And here’s something else important to keep in mind. Be sure to create marketing goals based on what you enjoy doing or at least on what you’re willing to do.
No, you’re not always going to feel like marketing or promoting your business, but don’t set a goal of generating a massive audience on YouTube if you hate video and don’t have a team to do it for you.
Alternatively, don’t commit to a goal that requires a mostly inbound marketing strategy — like getting most of your leads, clients, and customers from authority-building content online — if you’re an extrovert who loves networking, public speaking, and other more high-touch, in-person marketing efforts.
At the end of the day, you want to have a vision for your business so you can map out your business plan and your marketing plan, create marketing goals aligned with your marketing plan, and from there, determine your marketing objectives and targets.
Once you have those pieces in place, you can check in monthly or quarterly to see if you’re on target, because you’ll have a clear vision of what the target is and a clear roadmap for getting there.