Digital Insights

How to Set Realistic Marketing Goals


Published: January 26, 2015

According to baseball legend Yogi Berra, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you might not get there.” I’m not sure how this applies to baseball, but it definitely applies to your company’s marketing campaigns no matter which strategy you choose – inbound, outbound, or a combination of the two.

Without realistic goals, you have nothing to measure the effectiveness of your marketing by, or to help you evaluate and select the most appropriate tactics. You’re doomed to bounce from one shiny object to the next, hoping that you eventually stumble across that elusive diamond in the rough that will generate positive results.

Common Types of Marketing Goals
Marketing goals answer the basic question of what you expect to achieve with your marketing, and are typically expressed in terms of numbers such as an increase in gross sales revenue, increased number of units sold, increase in market share, or an increase in sales conversions. The number and nature of the goals you select should be reasonably achievable within a certain period of time, and be realistic given your available budget and production capabilities.

Above all, you want to keep your energies and resources focused. Don’t fall into the trap of spreading yourself too thin. Choose a maximum of two primary goals that are bottom line finance-oriented, along with three to five supporting goals.

Are Your Goals Realistic?
You want to find the sweet spot between setting goals that are so easy that they don’t challenge you to stretch your capabilities to the utmost yet are not so high that your chances of achieving them is unlikely. Before you commit yourself to a set of goals, ask yourself

  • Are these goals achievable given my present situation? Can I visualize myself succeeding or do these goals represent an “impossible dream?”
  • Have I ever targeted similar goals before? If so, how successful were my efforts? If I failed to reach similar goals in the past, what will I have to do differently to achieve them in the future?
  • Do the numbers and timeframes seem realistic?
  • Have any competitors in my industry or niche pursued similar goals?
  • • Do I truly believe that these goals are worthwhile?

Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals
The best way to start setting goals for the future is to evaluate your present situation. Financial goals in particular are based on incremental improvements over present numbers, so you’ll need to collect your financials in order to establish a baseline for the future.

Whichever set of goals you choose, they all need to pass the S.M.A.R.T. test. Here’s the process.
Specific. You need to set down in writing the exact goal that you are shooting for. You’ll never be able to measure and track your progress without setting specific goals. Specific written goals also help get your brain primed for success. When the human brain is able to visualize a specific goal, it subconsciously goes to work helping turn that visualization into reality.

Measurable. Having measurable goals is the only way to know whether your efforts are effective and on-track, or whether you need to make adjustments along the way.

Attainable. Setting unrealistic goals is counter-productive, and will only lead to frustration and wasted resources.

Relevant. Your chosen goals need to have a major impact on your company’s bottom line. Anything less is a waste of time and resources.

Time-bound. Establish a specific timeframe for achieving your goals. This is especially important if other company activities and projects are based on when and if you meet a particular marketing goal.