Back in an advertising school in 2010, I learned about SMART goals as part of the business and branding subject in my undergraduate degree. SMART is an acronym assigned to a goal or objective design process, created to help people maximise reach success in whichever undertaking they pursue.
Setting SMART objectives (also called SMART goals) can be applied to large, high-level processes such as your annual marketing goals, as well as smaller, micro-processes such as content you create. Creating SMART marketing objectives is great for keeping your business on-track and your processes on-brand.
It’s pretty cool how concepts such as SMART goals keep resurfacing time and time again. I guess that’s the power of a really good theory or model – that it stands the test of time and remains relevant for years to come.
Ready to discover what a SMART goal is? Keep reading!
What are SMART goals or SMART objectives?
SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant and Timeous. I’ve seen some variations of what the acronym stands for, different filler words used in place of the ones just mentioned, but the core concept is the same.
Setting SMART objectives will help you keep your operations in check. By defining exactly what your goals are, with the SMART model, you’ll be able to quantify whether you have met or missed the goal.
Working haphazardly and scattered can result in missed opportunities for growth, scalability and revenue. Taking the time to define SMART objectives for your brand will help you in the long run.
SMART objectives can be set for large processes such as marketing strategy, product launches or brand development, but they can also be implemented at really micro levels too.
You could set SMART objectives for your Instagram page, a single blog post you write, an email sequence you send out, everything! With the SMART formula, you’ll be forced to create a goal that can be assessed over time to determine its success or failure.
What does the SMART acronym stand for?
SMART is a clever and punny acronym devised to help you set the best criteria for your business goals.
SMART stands for:
Let’s break each of this down a bit further.
“S” stands for Specific
The goal that you have in mind must be laser-focused and specific. You need to get really clear as to what you want to achieve with the task, operation, piece of content or exercise at hand.
By focusing your effort and energy into one specific objective, you’ll feel totally motivated to achieve this objective.
When you are thinking about the goal at hand, ask yourself:
- What is it that I want to achieve?
- Why is this important to me or my business?
- Who is involved in attaining this goal?
- When do I want to achieve this goal?
- Why do I want to pursue this?
Once you have pondered the above, you can draft your specific objective. An example of a specific goal could be to ‘generate brand awareness for an upcoming astrology course.’
By getting laser-focused about your goals, you’ll be driven by the single objective. You’re more likely to stay on course as your goal is singularly focused and so precise.
“M” stands for Measurable
The Specific goal you’ve just set must be Measurable. To quantify whether the goal has successfully been achieved, you need to establish a format for goal tracking and some monitoring metrics before you initiate the process.
By setting Measurement parameters, you can determine whether you’ve met the expectation as set out by the goal in the first place. It’s a good idea to set a numeric value or percentage here, something that can easily be quantifiable, for example:
“Increase instagram followers by 30%.”
Quantitative measurement parameters are easy to track, but sometimes the measurement unit isn’t numeric and is more qualitative in nature. For things like quality, accuracy or similar, find some form of benchmark, parameter or standard that will act as an indicator of progress to let you know that the objective has been met.
When considering the measurability of an objective, ask yourself:
- What is a good measure of success for this objective?
- How can I best measure progress for this process?
- How will I know when the goal has been reached?
“A” stands for Attainable
Unlike your brand vision, which needs to be so extreme and borderline unrealistic that you keep striving in the pursuit of it, your goals need to be realistic and within reach.
Establishing big goals is great, especially as a motivating factor, but if they’re unrealistic and unattainable, you’ll have so much stress and anxiety if the target isn’t actually within reach. With this, make sure your goals are attainable, achievable and within reach.
At the same time, setting an easy goal that you can reach may not have enough momentum behind it, so set a goal that has enough of a driving factor to keep you motivated and stretch your abilities, but not to the point of overwhelm.
When considering the attainability of your goal, ask yourself:
- Are there any restraints in achieving this goal?
- Do I have all the necessary skills to achieve the goal?
- Do I have all the necessary resources at hand?
- Is this goal challenging enough?
Sometimes the “A” is referred to as Actionable as in it must be able to be acted upon.
“R stands for Relevant
Sometimes, the “R” in SMART is listed as Realistic, but I feel like whether a goal is realistic and in reach is covered in the Attainable or Actionable point.
The goal you set must be relevant to you and your business. There is literally no point in pursuing a process or exercise if it doesn’t add to the greater good or benefit the whole, so if you’re setting a goal for a single process, make sure it makes sense with your greater marketing strategy.
If you chase goals that are not relevant to your business, marketing strategy or company goals, then you’ll be losing time, energy and resources pursuing something inconsequential.
When considering the relevancy of an objective, ask yourself:
- Why is this important to my brand?
- Does this align with my big picture marketing strategy?
- Is this worthwhile pursuing?
- Does this make sense for my brand?
- What impact will this have on my team/internal processes/external efforts?
“T” stands for Timeous
Also called Timely, Time-Bound or Time Sensitive, one of the best things about setting SMART objectives is that they have a deadline. The “T” in SMART forces you to set a time-frame for the task or process. Once time’s up, you’ll need to assess whether the objective was met or not.
By setting a start and end date, you have a clear time limit that you must stick to. Without these time constraints, there wouldn’t be a sense of urgency or motivating factor. Having a clear target date is great as you can assess the success of the operation or process.
When considering the time frame of an objective, ask yourself:
- When does this need to be done?
- When is the deadline?
- Is this realistic?
Sometimes the “T” in SMART is listed as Trackable or Tracking, but this just introduces a measurement parameter or assessment metric, as in the “M” of Measurable.
SMART marketing objectives examples
Taking all of this into account, a SMART marketing objective example could look like this:
“I want to increase my Instagram following by 30%, from 10 000 followers to 13 000 followers, in 3 months.”
This example is a bit simple, so let’s get a bit more creative.
Say, for example, you are putting the finishing touches on an astrology course, and you’ll be ready to launch in one month. You want to generate some hype and interest about your astrology course so you create a waitlist that eager students can sign up for via email. You plan to offer extra bonuses to those who sign up early once they have joined the waiting list.
An example of your SMART goal could be to:
“I want to increase brand awareness of my astrology course by generating 100 waiting list sign-ups in three weeks.”
- Specific: The goal of gaining early sign-ups to generate brand awareness for an online course is clear, focused and well defined.
- Measurable: Success is measured by looking at the number of new subscribers that have joined the waitlist.
- Attainable: The audience is large, so there should be no problem generating sign-ups from potential customers.
- Relevant: By getting the email addresses of potential customers who already have the inclination to purchase the course once it launches, the course seller will have a collection of email addresses of people they can market upsells, bonuses or additional promotions to.
- Timeous: As the course launches in four weeks, this goal must be met in four weeks or less.
Now that you have a goal or objective, you can start creating content that will help you achieve this goal. In the example above, this would include writing an email sequence, creating a sales page for the course, possibly setting up a Facebook group for the early adopters to meet and communicate and thinking of interesting bonuses or upsells you could offer the early birds.
Using SMART goals in everyday life
While the SMART acronym is often applied to work, career and business goals, they can certainly apply to personal goals too. For example, you could decide to
- Learn a new language: “Hold a casual 10-minute conversation in Spanish, without pauses or asking for English translations, within six months.”
- Upskill your career: “Launch my business and mindset coaching business and sign two new clients, three months after completing my coaching course.”
- Develop healthy habits: “Meditate for 30 minutes each day by starting with five-minute-long daily sessions, growing incrementally, over a nine-month period.”
Setting SMART goals can help you think about processes with success in mind. By making sure your goals can be measured or tracked, and that they have a clear deadline, you’ll have enough drive and motivation to see the processes through.
I suggest setting large objectives for your overarching marketing strategy and revisiting these a few times a year. You can also get really granular and set SMART objectives for each process in your business. The more specific, the better.
If you have any questions, feel free to share them below.