Are Your Business Goals Realistic?

September 16th, 2011 No Comments

I’ve touched before on the importance of strategic planning before: decide what you want to do before you decide what services or tactics you want to implement. One of my colleagues, The Cline Group’s Josh Cline (Disclaimer: I’m a past director at TCG and currently sit on the firm’s advisory board), also wrote about this on his company’s blog. Josh wrote:

So, what is the big problem? Companies today are forgetting the traditional holistic approach to marketing strategy. They are forgetting or ignoring basic business and marketing fundamentals like messaging and positioning, branding and overall perceptions. Companies are missing the basic marketing principles, such as mapping the marketing plan to the company’s short-term and long- term goals and its business objectives.

So, you have a goal, now what?

Make sure your goal makes sense and is realistic and achievable!

What makes a goal realistic, though? Some aspects of a realistic goal include:

  • Mapping to your short and long-term objectives: Yes, we know you want to make millions, have immense profits, and reach mass adoption but perhaps you need brand awareness which means that the freemium model will hurt your short-term revenue in order to create long-term adoption and long-term profits.
  • Do your tactics make sense for the goal: If you want business leads, than you need something that has a registration form. A video or media article probably isn’t the best route. It won’t offer leads. But if you’re looking to increase awareness or understanding of your product, those would be great channels to consider. If your goal is to get XXX leads, than is it being implemented in the channel that is going to provide XXX?
  • Understanding the benefits and risks of your communications channel: Having a social media account doesn’t mean you’re going to go “viral“. In fact – there’s no such thing as viral. You’re chances of an instant social boom are low. And if you do get the boom, it’s likely to “bust” pretty quick. Unfortunately, most companies still don’t get digital media channels, whether it’s social media, the web, search, mobile, or email, and so either don’t set any or don’t set the right goals for this channel. This is also true for lots of other channels, as well.
  • Understanding the decision cycle and sales funnel: Are you assuming instant success? Success and traction take time. Your first month might give you fewer leads or awareness (however you measure that) but after six months, the exposure to multiple touchpoints may lead to conversion?
  • Unique to your specific position: While it’s OK to get inspiration from others and the competitive landscape is very important, your firm is unique – it has unique staff and resources and sits in a very individualized competitive landscape. No other company, even in the same country and industry, is exactly like yours.
  • Adhere to industry norms: While no company is unique, unless you are so different, there are many things in which we have baselines for. If open-rates on emails in the construction industry are 28.7%, and you’re in the same industry, you should be aiming as an initial baseline for a similar open rate. Of course, you may end up doing better or worse, but that’s an important baseline. But, if you’re a construction firm and getting a 14.5% open rate, more common in the travel industry, I would be worried. However, if my goal is for a 50% open rate, clearly your goal is simply unrealistic and should be changed.

Realistic goals can certainly include projections for rapid growth, if that’s reasonable for your market. But they shouldn’t assume rapid growth because some other company did it. You’re not them, and if you’re assuming rapid growth based on someone else (“I’m going to be the next big Facebook”) than you already lost network effects and first player advantage.

Are you setting realistic and achievable goals?

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