We all do it. We all hate it, but it is necessary. What am I talking about? PLANNING. Especially in marketing!
It is easy to say, “I am going to attract a lot more visitors to my site and increase my revenue” How much is “more revenue”? How many visitors are "a lot more"? Is that really a goal?
If you were playing soccer and had no goals, no scorekeepers or scores, the teams would be just running aimlessly around a field. The game would only end when everyone got too tired to play. No one would ever win and there would be no way to know who was playing well and who was not.
So in creating a marketing plan, you are writing down the rules to your success. A SMART plan consists of the following elements:
You need to be clear. Like a journalist, you need to state who, what, when, where and why:
- Who is involved
- What is going to happen
- Where it is going to happen
- When it is going to happen and
- Why it is important.
How do you know that you are reaching your goal? Number of visitors? Number of contacts? Number of conversions/sales? Or is there a dollar value that you need to reach? In what time frame? There are a lot of tools to help you track these measures, but you still have to define what to measure. This is how you keep score.
In creating your goal, you have to decide if you are being realistic. While that “increased revenue” is nice, by how much can you really increase it in a day? A week? A year? Or is 1000 visitors with 20 converted to qualified prospects and one sale per quarter a more realistic goal? Instead of hard numbers, a better strategy might be to set a goal of a percent increase. This is the definition of the game – how do you know when someone wins?
Monitoring the activity is important in reaching your goals. When you start out, you might not know what is realistic. However, over the course of weeks, if you monitor response with a good tool like HubSpot's Dashboard, you will be able to estimate how effective a future action will be. In other words, you will be able to tell what is working and what isn't. This way you can change your strategy and get closer to your goal. You get to be both referee and the coach for your team.
Creating an online presence is no longer a decoration for your business. Online Marketing has real impact. Therefore, the goal you set will matter. You aren't wasting your time just to be current. Use your online tools to address a core initiative: a new product roll-out, expansion to a new market, increase in market share. This is the part where the team gets to score some real goals and really win!
This should go without saying but sometimes the most obvious must be said. Your plan should be implemented in a timely fashion. You cannot accomplish an open-ended goal. This is the WHEN part of the plan. Your team is no longer running around the field aimlessly - they are playing the game to win.
A SMART marketing plan needs to have the following five elements to be instrumental in helping you reach your goal:
1 Specific - Your goal should be unambiguous and communicate what is expected, why it is important, who's involved, where it is going to happen and which constraints are in place
2 Measurable - Your goal should have concrete criteria for measuring progress and reaching the goal
3. Attainable - Your goal should be realistic and possible to reach
4. Relevant - Your goal should matter to your business and address a core initiative
5. Timely - You should have an expected date that you will reach the goal
So no matter how distasteful the planning process is, put SMART Market Planning to work and watch your business grow!