Setting marketing goals doesn’t have to suck

You may have heard by now that I wrote a book. It’s called See You on the Internet, and it’s where I shared all the advice I have from working with hundreds of small businesses, helping them to build their biz online using digital marketing.

Throughout the book, I talk about how important it is to set goals for your digital marketing, and how those goals need to tie back to your business goals. After all, if you don’t set a goal for your marketing efforts, you’ll have no idea whether you’re succeeding or not.

Despite knowing how important it is to set goals, so many small business owners don’t actually do it. Heck, I’m even guilty of this myself. Why do we skip this step, even though we understand that it’s valuable?

I think it’s because we don’t know how to set marketing goals properly. It sounds hard. And technical. And boring. I promise you though, it doesn’t have to be. Let me walk you through an example that came up a little while ago.

This spring, I hosted an Online Book Club where a group of 25 people all read See You on the Internet together. Each week we read a few chapters and met over Zoom to discuss. It was lots of fun, and I’m thinking about doing it again this fall. More details to come.

One week, an Online Book Club member asked about setting marketing goals. She said she was struggling to clearly define what her marketing goal was. So I coached her through it, and the conversation went like this.

Me: It’s really important that your marketing goals tie back to your business goals. So, let’s start there. What’s your business goal?

Reader: I want to make more money.

Me: Don’t we all? That’s a great place to start. It’s also a common answer to that question, by the way. So. Let’s break that down a bit. Very broadly speaking, there are two ways to make more money. Either get new customers to buy a product you already have, or sell a new product for the customers you already have. Which one of those two are you leaning towards?

Reader: I definitely want to get new customers to buy a product I already have.

Me: Fantastic. We’re already getting more specific! You want to make more money by selling a product you already have to new customers. Let’s talk about these new customers. Are they similar to customers you’ve had in the past, or are they a different type of customer? Do they live in a different city, or do they come from a different background? Are they a different age, or interested in different things?

Reader: Nope, I’m not looking for a different type of customer. I want more customers who were like the ones I’ve already had.

Me: Aw yeah. Now we’re really getting somewhere. So you want to make more money by selling your product to new customers who are similar to customers you’ve had in the past. Sweet. Can you tell me more about those customers you’ve had in the past? What do you know about them?

<this is where she told me everything she knows about her past customers. What city they live in. Their age range, genders, and their interests. What social media platform they’re likely to hang out on. Etc. Etc.>

Me: Do you have a date you’d like to get these customers by? And finally, how many of them would you like to get?

Reader: I’d like 5 new customers by July 1.

Me: Hot damn! We just took your vague goal to a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound) goal. We went from “I want to make more money” to “I want to get 5 new customers to buy a product I already have by July 1. Those 5 customers will be similar, demographically, to customers I’ve had in the past, and I know how to target those customers with digital marketing because I know where to find them online.”

Reader: Whoa. That only took 4 minutes. Now I know exactly what I need to do, and how I’m going to measure my success. Let’s do this!

See? Making marketing goals doesn’t have to be a slog. And when you do it right, the next steps will be so clear. When you set the goal, you’ll be able to see what actions you need to take, and how you’re going to measure your success. Then your work is all cut out for you, and all you have to do is execute! (I say this jokingly, like executing digital marketing is easy. It isn’t. That’s what the rest of the book is about.)

[This post originally appeared in my free email newsletter. Tips, tools, and insight for integrating technology into your small business and your life. Delivered directly to your inbox, twice a month. Subscribe here.]



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