SMART goals lead to business magic

This tried and true method for assessing success is still valid.

Each year, millions of us set goals to lose weight, exercise more, make more money, and quit or cut back smoking or drinking. Unfortunately, we often bite off more than we can chew and expect sweeping results in a short time. As a result, we don’t hit the goal. The same can be said for business goals.

It’s a known fact that people perform better when they’re committed to achieving certain goals, and so do businesses. When the goals of both are aligned, magic happens.

For example, if you’re committed to becoming healthier and your company provides encouraging incentives, like gym memberships or fresh fruit in the kitchen, your chances for success are probably better than if your company stocks the lunch room with doughnuts and muffins.

Generating more business is a critical goal for print and marketing services providers. But how do you measure success? Is $1,000 enough? $10,000? $1 million? What are you basing the amount on? What has succeeded in the past and what has failed? What dependencies need to be considered, both internal and external? What’s your time frame?

For a goal to be successful it first needs to be SMART. The SMART acronym first appeared in the November 1981 issue of Management Review  and was coined by George Doran, Arthur Miller, and James Cunningham. Here’s my spin on it.

Specific What exactly are you going to do? Define it clearly and simply. Here are a few examples:

We are going to generate X% more new business and increase the value of existing accounts by X%.

We will increase profits by X%

Our revenue per employee will go from X to Y.

With these specific goals in mind, you can hone in on your success metrics, and adjust accordingly.

Measurable How long? How much? What are the milestones you’ll reach along the way? Suggestions:

We will generate X qualified new leads each month

We will introduce X new products  in the next 12 months

We will hold X customer appreciation events each quarter

Attainable Make it reasonable. Reflect on the information and data available to you.

This is where many companies discover a goal adjustment is in order. Whether you plan to generate more business with new products or services, lead generation, or growing customer accounts, consider all that’s involved.

Leads come from many sources, including your website, events, outbound marketing, paid search, social and community engagement and, of course, cold-calling.

Does your website have compelling landing pages, with forms that convert? Do you have clickable, sharable content? How often do you communicate with your customers? What problems are you solving for them today?

If generating qualified leads is critical, then everyone in sales, marketing and business development needs to agree on the definition of a qualified lead, and their roles in the marketing and sales cycle. And that means everyone is responsible for maintaining an accurate, clean database.

Rewarding Stop and reward yourself, and your team.

People are motivated by goals. Rewards can be strong motivators, particularly when aligned to personal goals. While it’s easy to recognize folks on the front lines, it’s equally easy to overlook those who aren’t. As you set your goal milestones, set your reward milestones too.

Timing With so much competition for your time, don’t keep your goal open-ended or you will lose focus and falter. Set an end date, with enough time to attain your main goal.

Are you purchasing new equipment or technology? What’s the learning curve? Are you outsourcing to a third party? How much runway will it take to create content and campaigns? What about training for your support team? What about input from legal, finance and others?

Don’t forget to plan for the role that good, old-fashioned direct mail can play in generating interest, especially in an integrated campaign that marries digital and print. This applies to lead generation, events, new product launches and more.

As you go through the process, you may have to adjust either your expectations or your goals. Factor in things like vacation schedules, tradeshows, and snowstorms. Isolate what might get in the way of hitting your targets with maximum impact. Identify your time-to-money. No matter what your goals are, whether they are personal or business-related, set yourself up for success with realistic, SMART goals. And watch the magic happen.


Joanne Gore

Joanne Gore is a B2B marketer who’s passionate about print and has spent the last three decades helping companies maximize their marketing and communications efforts. Founder of Joanne Gore Communications, she helps companies tell their story to a new generation of print and business buyers. Email: Follow her on Twitter: @joannegore121