I've spent the last couple of weeks interviewing people who I think might fit the description of my 'ideal customer'. That is to say, they are people who want to set up their own online business and quit their 9-5 for good, but who lack marketing experience and so are getting frustrated by their lack of momentum and growth.
It's been a hugely useful exercise for me for so many reasons and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to get more clarity on who their ideal customers are and the challenges they face.
Why am I telling you this?
Well, during my interviews, I discovered a common thread. Actually, I discovered a few, but there's one in particular that led me to write this post.
Every single person that I interviewed told me how the one thing that they needed was more focus when it comes to their marketing and some simple steps telling them where to start.
I believe that the key to that is setting clear goals. It's so simple but how many of us do it? Instead, we get caught up in the clamour for content. Just get something out there - anything, and then wait for the masses to come.
Except that doesn't work - and why should it?
In this post, I want to introduce you to SMART goals. Many of you will know of them already, but it's worth a refresher if it will help you focus, plan and start to move forward!
Introduction to SMART goals
I hesitated when I first thought about writing this post. SMART goals are so widely used in the corporate world that I felt I would be teaching people to suck eggs. It's such a simple concept, would it really be worth writing a post about it?
I decided that it would. This model is known and used throughout the world for a reason. It's effective. Used properly, it's incredibly effective! And the fact is, there are many, many small business owners out there who are struggling to find focus and this simple method will make a difference.
So please, even if you know what SMART goals are already, if you're one of those people who aren't sure where to start when it comes to your marketing, then read on and remind yourself. It might just give you the spark of inspiration you need to push forward and get clarity.
With me? Grab a pen and paper and get ready for some soul searching. I want you to think about what you want for your business over the next 6 months to a year and then to really consider how your marketing can help you to achieve those goals.
Setting Specific Goals
What are your expectations for your marketing? What are you trying to achieve?
How much traffic? How long do you want them to browse? What action do you want them to take?
How many more? What email open rate do you expect?
What type of clients? Who do you most want to attract?
See what I'm getting at? BE SPECIFIC about what you want to achieve - this will give you the focus you need when it comes to planning how to achieve it.
Setting Measurable Goals
If you can't measure it then how will you know if you've achieved it?
Statements to avoid are things like 'Facebook success' or 'Better engagement'. Instead think more along the lines of '50 new Facebook followers' or 'An average of 10 likes per Facebook post'.
Setting goals is key - but only if you actually measure your results. Otherwise why bother?
Setting Achievable Goals
Be realistic. Nothing is more discouraging than realising that you'll never, ever reach your goals and there's nothing you can do about it.
If you're just starting out then setting a goal of 50k subscribers in your first month is probably pushing it and will just make you feel disheartened when you only get 100 (which is actually brilliant btw!)
Setting Relevant Goals
Everything you do in your business should be aligned. When you wrote your business plan, you probably wrote some kind of mission statement. If you're a wedding photographer for example, then this might have been something along the lines of capturing those once in a lifetime moments for couples in a way that will help them to always remember their special day.
So when it comes to marketing goals, you might set yourself a target to arrange an introductory meeting with 20 couples in the next 6 months. You know that your target audience tends to hang out on Pinterest as they search for inspiration for their big day so you might set yourself a target to increase your Pinterest following by 300.
These are all relevant goals. Setting a goal to increase your Twitter following probably isn't...
Question everything you do - if you're just doing something because other people are or because you feel you should be doing it, then dig deeper. How is this going to get you to where you want to be? If you can't answer that then it probably isn't a relevant goal...
Setting Timed Goals
Last, but not least, you need to give yourself a bit of urgency! This is one of the biggest marketing tools in the box and it should apply to your own planning too.
Setting yourself a goal of 500 sales means nothing if you haven't given yourself some kind of time limit. 500 sales in 6 months is going to have a much bigger impact on your business than 500 sales in 6 years...
Always give yourself time frames. This might feel difficult at first when you have no frame of reference but the more you monitor and track your progress, the better you'll get at setting realistic timescales for your business.
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