Yet, how many times has your marketing team established goals and then failed to deliver on them? Too many times to count? Then this post is for you.
Having studied goal setting, goal management, and goal achievement extensively, I can tell you that the approach I’m going to share with you here is extremely effective. Surprisingly effective. Crazy effective.
Vagueness Kills Growth
Before getting into the goals management methodology, I want to point out the importance of specificity in goal setting. Too often, our agency talks with companies that speak in only highly vague terms about their goals. “We need to increase leads,” or “We need to increase revenue,” they explain. These are not real goals. They are so vague as to have no meaning and will likely lead to disappointment.
On top of this, they have no clear tracking and management infrastructure directly tied to the goals. In other words, their very own goals management system is set up for failure.
If you need leads, how many? By when? In what timeframe and cadence? What will “success” look like, numerically? What’s the baseline, and what is the specific end result? What types of leads? In what geography? Based on what quality score?
Besides goals that are much too vague to have meaning, many companies are also missing a key ingredient in goal achievement by setting only one type of goal instead of configuring an effective matrix of goals…
The Best Combination
In The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals, authors Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, and Jim Huling point out that many companies get goals management wrong in that they set goals based only on what they call “lag measures.” These are goals where it’s difficult to directly impact the results based on the goal itself, and you know if you achieved the goal only after the fact.
Think of a goal like “Increase monthly U.S. revenue to $3 million by July 2019.” With a goal like this, although the objective is clear, it’s not at all clear what actions need to be taken to achieve the goal.
Let’s look at an example at a factory. If the goal of the factory is to increase productivity by 5% in a quarter, a floor manager barking out orders to “Be more productive” doesn’t help anyone. The guidance is too vague. The specific action steps and the cadence by which they need to be taken by specific individuals are completely missing. Instead, requiring one hour of personalized training each week, improving instructional documentation, purchasing higher-output equipment, establishing a faster escalation process, etc. are specific steps where the action is crystal clear. In other words, the blueprint for achieving a 5% productivity increase by the deadline becomes clear and trackable for everyone on the team.
Along this line of thinking, McChesney, Covey, and Huling argue that for every “Wildly Important Goal,” you should define and document the set of “lead measures” (or what I like to refer to as “process goals”) your team will commit to in order to achieve such goal. Without the lead measures, your major goals are simply fantasy.
Process Goals in Action
Let’s say you decide that your top goal is to double the number of qualified leads from your blog by the end of the year, and let’s assume that you’ve defined what constitutes a “qualified lead.” In this scenario, you may establish the following process goals to ensure goal achievement:
- Establish a grading system to ensure that each post includes a specific number of conversion triggers.
- Define a checklist to assess the conversion focus of each post against such grading system prior to publishing.
- Define the most urgent challenges of your clients, and then update your blog calendar to regularly address these challenges
- Establish a target number of monthly or weekly posts
- Study blog analytics weekly and determine any next-step actions
- Study behavioral analytics monthly and determine any next-step actions
- Implement an IP detection solution to identify the companies visiting your blog, and follow-up accordingly
- Add relevant, value-add, inline CTAs to each post
- Add a visual CTA at the bottom of each post
- Add CTAs that directly tie in to your services
- Add behaviorally-triggered CTAs
- Add exit-intent technology and implement next tests monthly
All of this focus on the process is backed up by Harvard social psychologist Amy Cuddy. The biggest mistake that people make in setting goals, Cuddy says, is that they focus only on the outcome, not the process. A better approach is to embrace the process, and focus on each of the steps in the process that will ultimately lead to achievement of the goal.
And here’s where many marketing teams get tripped up. They have too many top goals and few, if any, process goals. Although you want to keep your top goals to only a few (we recommend no more than three top goals), you should establish as many process goals as are necessary to ensure the achievement of your top goals. In order to double leads from your blog by a specific date, it may require three process goals or it may require 13. You should be realistic as to the formula for achieving results. If all 13 steps really are necessary to double leads, then be as specific as you can on those 13.
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For both your top goals and your process goals, set up a tracking system. Too often, companies set goals and then only revisit them at the end of the year to see which ones have been achieved and on which ones they came up short. That’s a formula for nothing but randomness.
Instead, set up a tracking system that’s easily accessible by the entire team and clearly indicates status and progress. And here’s the key. Your tracking system should be more detailed for your process goals than for the top goals. As process goals are highly actionable and more immediate, it’s critical that you apply all of your focus on these types of goals. By being maniacally focused in your tracking of process goals, you will increase the probability of achieving your top goals exponentially.
It’s actually common sense. If you want more leads from your blog, and you’ve established the specific blueprint for securing them, then you need to implement each of the steps in the blueprint. This is not rocket science.
Yet, why is it that so many marketing teams do not do this and instead leave goals vague and have nothing even approaching an infrastructure for process goals?
Proof that This Stuff Really Works
The value of the selection of a few, select top goals, and a maniacal focus on the process goals to achieve such top goals, should be obvious.
A BetterWorks study found that only 7% of employees were clear on their company’s goals and what was expected in terms of strategies to achieve them. Similarly, McChesney, Covey, and Huling found in their research that only one in seven employees could name even one of their company’s top goals. For those aware of the company goals, a whopping 87% of those surveyed had no idea what they should be doing to achieve the goals.
Those that follow a defined and methodical goals management process achieve more. A lot more. In fact, BetterWorks found that organizations that use formal goal setting exercises are 3.5X more likely to be in the top tier of financial performers every year.
How about your own team? If you’re looking to achieve better marketing results, build an effective goals achievement framework:
- Establish 1, 2, or 3 top goals
- Define a detailed series of process goals for each top goal
- Configure a tracking system so that the goals, status, and progress are transparently clear for everyone on the team?
- Become maniacally focused on your process goals
- Set a cadence for reviewing status and defining next steps