SMART Goals and Objectives - Definitions and Examples For Marketing Plans

SMART planning can make the difference between a super effective marketing strategy and a failed one. It really can be as simple as that.

Whether you are working on your overall marketing plan or a specific part within it, it's imperative that you have clear objectives and goals for each element within your strategy. These goals should be clearly defined, realistic and you should be able to reach them within an acceptable time-frame.

They most certainly should not be 'pie-in-the-sky' hopes and dreams without any focus or direction behind them.

SMART Goals and Objectives - Definitions and Examples For Marketing Plans

So, how do you stop your goals becoming unrealistic pipe dreams? One way you can do this is to follow the SMART framework.

What does 'SMART' mean, exactly?

'SMART' can be defined an an acronym meaning:

- Specific: your goals should be clearly defined
- Measurable: your goals should be measurable so you know when you've reached them, or how far away from them you are
- Achievable: you should be able to actually achieve your goals, they shouldn't be unattainable 'hopes'
- Relevant: your marketing goals should be relevant to your overall business goals
- Time-sensitive: your goals should be able to be achieved within a reasonable time period

In this post, we'll walk through a couple of examples of setting SMART objectives - one for your overall marketing strategy and one for a specific part of your overall strategy. 

**please note that the figures in the examples below won't balance, they are there for descriptive purposes only.

An example of setting a SMART objective for your overall marketing strategy (Macro)

As mentioned above, the objectives of your marketing strategy need to be very clearly defined. Here is an example of something that is not a good objective:

"I want to take on 10,000 customers and make one million pounds in profit".

Yep, it's pretty clear that following that kind of objective will lead you nowhere. There's just no substance to it - nothing to keep hold of or work towards. However, here is an example of a SMART target that would be at home within a credible marketing strategy document:


"With an overall budget of £90,000.00, this strategy will employ a multi-channel marketing approach (Social media, PPC, outdoor advertising and organic search) resulting in an average of 8 new customers a month being secured, with an average lifetime value of £7,000.00 per customer being achieved.This strategy will begin delivering 8 new customers each month by month 4. The campaign will deliver a total return of £270,000, realising an ROI of 300%".

As I mentioned above these are only example figures and they won't balance, although hopefully you'll see that the key is to be very specific about the details you include in your overall marketing objectives. 

What has been achieved in the example above?

- We have clearly defined the marketing budget (this would be pulled from your budget forecast)
- We have clearly stated the marketing channels we will use
- We have stated the number of customers we aim to achieve along with the value of each of these customers
- We have clearly stated the time frame involved
- We have clearly stated the expected return on investment

As you can see, this is very detailed and it gives you a set of goals that you can actively work towards and measure.

As you can also see, you'll have to pull figures from various parts of your marketing strategy document in order to write a complete and useful objective. Therefore, it's common to finish writing your main objective last. 

An example of setting a SMART target for an individual part of your marketing strategy (Micro)

Let's say that you've decided - after writing up your overall marketing strategy - that you want to use PPC Advertising as a means to generate new leads and customers. It's also a good idea to have clear goals set for this specific part too (the PPC idea here is just an example, you can apply this to any part, such as telemarketing, social media, tradeshows etc).

Here is an example of a SMART target for a specific part of your plan:

"Drawing from the overall marketing budget of £90,000.00, the PPC element of the campaign will use £22,500 (25%) of the available funds. Within the 12 month period, the PPC campaign will deliver 12 new customers, each with a lifetime value of £7,000.00. PPC will deliver a total return of £96,000.00, a total ROI of 640%"

Again, you can see that this example delivers the same benefits as the example above - clear, concise and it's easy to work towards and measure.

Variations of SMART

There are a few variations of SMART that you might want to be aware of:

SMARTER

The same as above, although with 'ER' added:

- E: Evaluated
- R: Reviewed

Basically, with this version you are having your goals checked by another person/team - it essentially adds a set of checks and balances to the original.

SMARTTA

The same as SMART, with 'TA' added:

- T: Trackable
- A: Agreed

Obviously the original SMART goal should be 'Trackable' anyway, and the 'Agreed' just serves to add a layer of 'opt-in' and accountability for people who deal in teams/inter-departmental programs.

In sum

Hopefully this post has shown that it's really important to have clearly defined goals and objectives when it comes to your marketing strategy. This applies to both your overall plan and to the specific elements within it.

In my opinion, the best way you can lay out your goals is to employ the SMART framework. Doing so will help you avoid your marketing goals becoming unrealistic pipe dreams - instead they will become realistic targets that will help you achieve exactly what you want to achieve.

So, to recap: be SMART - Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time sensitive.

Thanks for reading,

By Alan MacDougall

Got a nagging marketing question? Ask me here.

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Revenue Builder is a small business marketing strategy advice blog, written to help small business owners and startups maximise sales revenue.