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Have you ever hopped in your car, hit the ATM, and embarked on an impromptu road trip without a specific destination in mind? Impulsive moves like that help to develop an appreciation of quirky tourist attractions, good music and great friends. They also often end in exhaustion, with little to show for it except a speeding ticket from a city 300 miles away, a collection of wrinkled receipts and stack of plastic cups from gas stations with awesome names.

Launching a new marketing effort without setting goals up-front is similar. It might be exciting but can also waste a part of an already restricted budget, incur additional unplanned expenses, and provide little to no measureable benefit. Setting goals before an effort launches ensures accountability and provides the map to get where you need to go.

Spending the time to set goals, plot out a route, a budget, and to schedule timely checkins to measure progress will maximize any marketing road trip.

A simple approach to setting goals is to use the SMART method.

S=Specific (Clearly define your goals)

M=Meaurable (If you cannot measure goals then you cannot manage progress.)

A=Attainable (A good goal should stretch expectations but still be within reach.)

R=Realistic (Be honest about capabilities to avoid disappointment.)

T=Timely (Set deadlines and map out milestones.)

Photo by StuckinCustoms via Flickr

What little tricks do you use to keep planning and executing on track?

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