IDM Learning Blog: Do You Dare to Set SMART Objectives?

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2020 was a tough year: a worldwide pandemic, Brexit, Trump refusing to leave the white house, all of which caused a lot of pain and problems. One of these problems is falling profit margins for businesses. So, how can you do your bit for your organisation and your job security?

I challenge you to dare to measure and be measured.

Write real SMART objectives

It’s scary to write in black and white whether the marketing activity you produced or are accountable for was as effective as you wanted it to be.

The M (measure) in smart objectives really puts people on edge. However, if it’s that nervous reaction is holding you back, because you don’t know whether the marketing activity you’re investing time and money in is effective, are you really showing up?

Make 2021 the year when every campaign you do has clear success or fail measures.

Let’s be clear: knowing that something was a failure is a success. The only real failure is to keep repeating something that isn’t successful, because you don’t know that it is. And if you don’t measure, how will you know?

SMART objectives are the friend of the effective marketer. You do something because it’s effective; if it’s not, you stop. This opens up the opportunity to try new things that might work. If you don’t, your time will be filled with tasks you’ve always done and therefore don’t dare stop.

Do you accept the challenge? I hope so. Let’s dive deeper into what SMART objectives are and how they can work for you and your marketing team.

How does a SMART objective differ from any other objective?

SMART objectives enforce accountability: on a campaign, an activity, a team, or an individual.

"Get more people coming to our free business events” is an objective, but one more person would mean this objective is met, and I’m sure the person accountable for the event has higher expectations. However, the person responsible feels that they’ve done what is asked of them.

By making this objective SMART, it would look something more like this: "Drive 500 event registrations, at a maximum cost-per-acquisition of £11, by August 31."

While both of these objectives tell a team or person what to do, and can ultimately achieve the same outcome, the SMART version gives very clear parameters in which to work.

By quantifying the goal, we get a sense of how much work there is to do, and we are able to gauge progress towards that. Adding a specific detail, such as a CPA (cost-per-acquisition), gives another important parameter: a budgetary one. A deadline also provides a timeframe to plan our activity.

To understand more about the fundamentals of SMART objectives, watch our animation.

Top tips for objective setting

  • Describe outcomes, not activities. Rather than aiming to ‘live stream our business surgery on Fridays,’ define a solid outcome, such as ‘attract 500 weekly viewers on our live-streamed business surgery.’
  • Avoid objectives that maintain a status quo. For example, ‘publish on Facebook every day’ is unlikely to inspire and likely to distract you from your more ambitious, important goals.
  • Weed out ambiguity in the wording of your objectives. It should be clear to anyone whether or not goals were achieved, without the need for subjective opinion or judgment.
  • Ensure results from your activities are freely available within the business. For instance, if you set an objective around social engagement, create a universally readable report at the end of the timeframe, and place it where other employees can access it, such as a shared server.

To learn more about SMART objectives, take a look at our IDM marketing qualifications below.

If you’re new to marketing, check out:

If you’re a marketing manager (or aspiring to be one):

For marketing leaders:

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