I set a goal a few weeks ago to finish this blog post about goal setting on time. I’m usually pretty good about meeting those kinds of minor goals and deadlines, but this time I failed. Other priorities came up. Things got bumped and shuffled around, but fortunately something else got canceled so I found a window to write a blog post. Yeah!

This kind of shuffling and adjusting and stretching deadlines and goals is fairly common (and understandable) with small projects, but sadly it is also often common with major initiatives or even larger company strategies. Some people and brands treat their goals and objectives kind of like New Year’s resolutions; they start with good intentions, but let them fizzle away or forget about them after a few weeks or months.

We focus a lot on goals and objectives here at Two Rivers Marketing, and looking back, we’ve written a lot about the topic. Keesia noted their importance at the top of her blog decision flowchart. Hillary talked about it related to digital marketing. Many of us talked about it in our 2017 trends. And I talked about it in the context of annual planning thinking and shifting to an audience-centric planning approach.

So why do we keep writing about this and weaving it into our blog posts? Because it’s incredibly important. If we don’t know where we’re going, any road will get us there. But in marketing, we’re not out on a leisurely joy ride, we’re trying to get somewhere. To advance an idea. To grow a following online. To make customers aware of something new. Almost always to increase sales. And, many times, all of the above.

But we can’t wander aimlessly, and we can’t achieve all of those goals, primarily because we don’t have a money tree with unlimited marketing dollars. Marketers everywhere are constantly trying to do more with less, which makes having goals and objectives critical to using money efficiently and wisely.

When we press our clients for goals and objectives — and we do press — it’s not because we are mean. It’s because we want to be good stewards of the limited marketing resources and create the most-effective campaigns possible with those limited resources. So expect questions like these, centered around sales and marketing communications goals, when you initiate a marketing project or annual planning session:

What is your sales goal?
• What is the sales potential within the market?
• Will promoting this product harm another product in your portfolio? What are the sales goals for that product?
• How long do you think it will take to achieve that sales goal?

Answering questions about sales helps put this initiative in perspective. Is this a major undertaking for your business or something smaller? Are you spending enough on marketing to achieve your lofty sales goals?

What other results are you hoping to accomplish by spending marketing dollars on this effort?
• Leads and contact information?
• Traffic at a trade show booth?
• Downloads of a whitepaper or brochure?
• Followers on social media?
• General awareness?
• Favorable coverage in the media?

Answering questions about marketing goals usually helps point the way to a marketing communications solution, or at least limit the potential options that are at our disposal. Are we pulling the right marketing levers to achieve the goals? Have you come to the table asking for an advertising campaign but really need to measure whitepaper downloads? Having those goals aligned is critical.

Sticking to those goals is also important. Moving the goal line (pun intended) in the middle of a marketing campaign can be expensive and difficult. Not being aligned with all parties on what the goals are (e.g., you think it’s to raise awareness and your boss thinks it’s to capture leads) can also lead to headaches and a less-than-optimal result, not to mention wasted marketing dollars.

Whether it’s a small task like writing a blog post or a larger initiative like a product launch, knowing the end goal is the first step in developing a solid plan that will help you deliver effective results in a way as financially efficient as possible. Unless you’re the kind of brand that has a never-ending supply of money to spend on marketing, in which case, please contact our business development department, and we’ll be happy to help you spend it. But we really appreciate the challenge of achieving a focused goal within a defined budget that delivers results.

About Patrick McGill

Patrick McGill is our very own Sherlock Holmes. As the Marketing Insight Director at Two Rivers Marketing, Patrick puts his detection skills to work by helping our clients develop successful strategic plans that more effectively communicate with their target audiences. When he’s not immersed in research you’ll more than likely find Patrick traveling – those travels have taken him to all 50 states. You can email our inquisitive Mr. McGill at PatrickM@2rm.com.