Setting SMART Marketing Objectives

January 29, 2024 | Elke Steinwender
5 min
Objectifs SMART Objectives

Let’s be honest: how many of us take the time to sit down and create our marketing objectives? Sales, growth or profitability objectives certainly! But marketing objectives are frequently forgotten or pushed aside, lost in the daily hustle and bustle of work. Yet without a clear vision and well-defined objectives, your marketing efforts risk being disorganized and ineffective.

So how do you create marketing goals versus other types of goals?

First, we need to understand the differences between them:

Business objectives are the overall, long-term goals of the company, as they encompass the company’s global vision. They are often defined by the company’s management and are geared towards achieving the organization’s mission.

Sales objectives, on the other hand, are more specific and focus on revenue generation. They can be measurable, such as reaching a certain sales figure, increasing the number of sales or expanding the customer base. These objectives are fundamental to the company’s financial viability.

Marketing objectives, on the other hand, concern how a company communicates with its customers and promotes its products or services. They seek, for example, to increase brand awareness, develop customer loyalty, position the company in the market, and support sales objectives.

That said, it’s important to note that all these types of objectives share a common goal: the long-term sustainability of the company. Therefore, there are various approaches to defining and achieving objectives, such as the OKR (Objectives and Key Results) and SMART methods.

Introduced by Andy Grove, CEO of Intel in the 1970s, OKRs associate objectives with ambitious key results, aimed at influencing behavior (such as increasing the number of registrations) or changing a trend. OKRs are usually set on a quarterly cycle, reflecting short-term aspirations. This method is particularly effective in aligning individual objectives with those of the company, thus fostering employee commitment to the organization’s overall ambitions. Although OKRs are more adaptive than SMART objectives, due to their iterative nature and ability to adjust to fluctuations in the business environment, the incorporation of SMART objectives within OKRs is often necessary. In particular, key results must be specific, measurable and achievable. Thus, this text attempts to demystify SMART objectives, which are the basis of effective objective planning.

SMART objectives, first established by George T. Doran in 1981, are a strategic approach to planning and achieving concrete results.

If you’re not familiar with this approach, SMART is an acronym for :

1. Specific:

Establish an objective in a very precise way. “Growing sales” is not a specific objective. “Growing sales of product X by Y dollars by Z (time)” is specific. In addition, don’t forget to clearly define the actions required to achieve these objectives (e.g.: To do this, contact five companies a day and determine in advance a list of companies to contact).

2. Measurable:

How will you know when you’ve reached your goal? What data do you need to know if you’ve achieved your objective? This could include, for example, indicators such as the number of new customers acquired, the increase in web traffic, or the conversion rate of advertising campaigns.

3. Attainable:

Do you have a unit of reference for achieving your goal? The idea is to balance your ambitions with reality. Anyone can climb Mount Everest, but maybe not in the next quarter or year… So it’s essential to assess the resources available, both human and material, to define attainable goals.

4. Attached/realistic:

Even if you can do it, should you? When creating your marketing objective, ask yourself the question “Why are we doing it?”. This question allows you to link your objective to the company’s overall strategy. In other words, marketing objectives must also contribute to the company’s long-term goals. So, when the tasks required to achieve your marketing objectives are buried under a pile of emergencies, referring to your marketing “Why” will help you keep the focus on what’s important while preserving your motivation.

5. Timing:

Determine a precise timetable for achieving your goal, with milestones to be reached along the way. This will enable you to measure your progress along the way, as well as facilitate the “Measure” step.
The SMART method offers significant advantages for team coordination and communication. Indeed, it enables precise evaluation of a project’s success. By avoiding vague terms, this method makes it easier for team members to understand how their contribution aligns with common objectives. It also makes it possible to measure how each person’s contribution affects the achievement of project goals. For example, an overall goal such as “improve customer satisfaction”, which lacks clarity and precision, does not allow the team to determine the level of success of the project once it is completed. So, instead of a vague intention, SMART indicators help team members to turn objectives into reality, by providing clear benchmarks for monitoring and analyzing performance, thus greatly simplifying the evaluation of the results achieved. This method helps avoid misunderstandings and, as a result, a better understanding of marketing objectives promotes cohesion and stimulates collective motivation.

That said, it’s important to note that, although SMART objectives provide a clear framework for the team, it must remain flexible. In an ever-changing business environment, it is sometimes necessary to revise your objectives to ensure that your marketing strategy remains effective and relevant.

Finally, here are a few examples to inspire you to draw up your targets for defining marketing objectives based on your overall business goals:

  • Business objective: Grow sales.
  • SMART marketing objective: Marketing will identify “X” prospects per week for product “Y” throughout campaign “Z”.
  • Business objective: Increase the visibility of our brand.
  • SMART marketing objective:
    • Map our customer’s buying process for product “X” and determine an appropriate marketing mix by April 30.
    • Create and implement a marketing campaign for product “X” using our new marketing mix (email, social media, and online advertising).
    • For the duration of the campaign, we will measure our results by communication channel weekly.

In short, the SMART method will ensure that marketing objectives are no longer an afterthought, but an essential pillar of your business strategy. This not only guarantees greater consistency in your actions but also increases your chances of success in a competitive market.

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