How to define (and achieve) your small business marketing goals
Imagine climbing into the passenger seat of a car, and as you pull your door closed, asking the driver, “Where are we headed?”
“I don’t know,” they say, starting the ignition. “Someplace good, I hope! Now give me your gas card.”
You’d probably ask a few more questions before handing over your wallet, wouldn’t you? Questions like: Wait a minute, do you really not have a destination in mind? How will we know when we’re there? How long will we be gone?
“Just hoping for the best,” they say, and off you go.
Now imagine the car is your business and your gas card is your marketing budget.
Just like driving without a destination, marketing your small business without first identifying a goal is a good way to spend a lot of money and end up who knows where. Setting goals is the vital first step to successful marketing. Here are three tactical ways to get started.
Turn your business goals into marketing goals
Before you can know what you want your marketing to achieve, you have to know what you want your business to achieve, and to do that, you need to look at your business goals. Goals are what guide your efforts and help you determine whether or not they’re working. In fact, marketers who set goals are 376% more likely to report success than those who don’t.
Your ultimate marketing goal is to bring in more customers and revenue, of course. But how will you do that? By taking your big-picture business goal and breaking it down into more manageable goals. Setting smaller, more specific marketing objectives will help you make progress toward your bigger goal. Some guessing will be involved — especially at first — but with experience (and tracking and analytics), you’ll get better.
Say your business goal is to increase revenue by 30% in the next year, and you earned $600,000 this year. So next year, your aim is to earn $780,000 – $180,000 more. To turn that number into an actionable marketing goal, you need to dig into the details by answering a series of questions:
How many new customers do you need to bring in $180,000? Take a look at your average sale in terms of dollars and divide $180,000 by that number. For this example, let’s say your average sale is $5,000. You need your marketing to generate 36 new customers (180,000 divided by 5,000).
How many new callers do you need to generate in order to create 36 new customers? Now take a look at how many people who call your business that eventually turn into sales, and divide the number of new customers by that rate. We’ll use 50% for this example. You’ll need to generate twice the number of calls as the number of customers you’re trying to gain: 72 (36 divided by 0.5).
How many website visitors do you need in order to generate 72 calls? Finally, look at your conversion rate, or the number of people who visit your site that call into your business, and divide the number of leads by that rate. If your business website has a 5% conversion rate, you need to gain 1,440 new website visitors (72 divided by 0.05).
That right there — 1,440 new website visitors — is a marketing goal!
Set SMART marketing goals
In conversations about goals and goal setting, you’ll often hear people talk about SMART goals. SMART is an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time bound. Using this framework will give purpose, clarity, and accountability to your marketing efforts.
What makes a SMART goal?
It’s specific: Your goal should be explicit. When your goals are too broad or vague, it’s easy to veer off track. A clear, specific goal helps you stay focused. “Increase traffic to my website” is a perfectly reasonable goal, but it’s not specific. “Get 1,440 new visitors to my website” is.
It’s measurable: A goal that’s measurable not only has a number attached, but it’s trackable: you have the tools necessary to quantify it. Otherwise, how would you know whether or not you’ve succeeded? If your goal is 72 new callers, you can use call tracking software to see if you’ve met it.
It’s attainable: Your goal needs to be realistic and attainable. While 10 million unique visitors to your website would be nice, it may not be achievable. If your site generally gets about 1,000 new visitors per month, 1,440 is not outside the scope of reason.
It’s relevant: You have a business to run, so you don’t have time to spend on marketing activities that don’t help you make progress toward your goals. If your customers are generally over 50 years old, marketing on TikTok — where more than 89% of users are 49 or younger — is not relevant. It would make more sense to focus on Facebook, a platform used by 73% of 50- to 64-year-olds.
It’s time-bound: A deadline helps keep you focused on your goal and prevents it from slipping down your list of priorities. If you don’t attach a date to your goal, you’re more likely to put off the activities that will help you reach it in favor of other business-related tasks.
“Generate 72 new callers during the month of November” is a SMART goal.
Monitor your performance
Whatever your marketing goals are, it’s important that you can identify the tools and techniques that will help you measure your success. Otherwise, you won’t know which marketing tactics are actually working.
As a small business owner, you need to make sure you’re getting the best possible return on your investment (ROI). The first step to calculating ROI when you’re kicking off any new marketing effort is setting benchmarks that you can use as a baseline against which you can measure your results. For instance, say you start marketing with Google Ads, and after a month you see that you’ve received 1,200 new visitors to your website. If you don’t know how many visitors you had the previous month, you won’t know if you’ve actually made any progress.
But if you benchmark your website traffic and know that you typically get 1,000 new visitors per month, you’ll know that your marketing generated 200 more. (And with tracking and analytics, you’ll know exactly which marketing efforts brought you those visitors.)
Once you’ve set your benchmarks, you can start analyzing your marketing tactics. Do this with tools like call tracking, form tracking, and analytics software, which help you identify which marketing efforts are actually bringing in new leads and customers.
For example, call tracking software attaches a unique, dedicated phone number to each of your online or offline marketing tactics (e.g., Google Search ads, direct mail) that all ring into your main business line while tracing the source of each call. That way, you can pinpoint the source of your incoming calls to determine which tactics are working best and invest more of your marketing budget there. Similarly, form tracking shows you which ads and keywords inspired people to fill out a form on your website.
Make sure your marketing is working
Successful marketing is all about continually refining your strategy. Lean into the tactics that work, and fix (or cut) the ones that don’t.
Download our guide, “Is my marketing working? 3 questions to help you know”, to learn more about how to optimize your small business marketing results.
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