Everyone needs a plan, but not everyone has one. Some businesses operate according to each and every whim, while others do so at the bequest only the best research and intelligence.
When it comes to marketing, and various other creative avenues, a ‘finger in the wind’ approach has no longevity. The time for guesswork is over, and the digital frontier needs you to have a more measured, analytical approach.
With that in mind, we turn to the age-old SMART objectives to help steer the way. Without further ado, here’s how to create a marketing plan using SMART objectives.
First of all, before you can carry out a marketing plan, you need to agree on the SMART objectives. Here is what SMART stands for.
In the marketing environment, specificity can mean anything from how you measure results to the kinds of information you gather about your audience.
You can use specificity to ensure your marketing plan is targeted and on track for success.
Say, for example, you’re gathering information about one of your personas - what kind of information do you want to acquire? How granular will you go?
Specificity is the name of the game, and building your target audience profiles will result in you being far more informed going forward.
Every successful, results-driven marketing campaign has some kind of system for measuring results, and this is what this section is all about.
Years ago, marketers operated blindly without the aid of data, analytics or reporting. It’s a much different landscape today because we can clearly see how campaigns have performed, what we’re doing well and what needs to be improved.
For your marketing plan, you need to know how to get your hands on the data you need. How will you improve, what can you do to push yourself further and how will you realise your vision for the business?
In a brief answer: you measure your capabilities against a (realistic) time frame and then you’ll know what you can achieve.
The actions that we take are hinged on both data and intuition. You may know that a certain campaign will perform well because it has verified, high-volume search potential. You may also be sure it will perform well because, having a nose for a story, you know that a certain topic is trending and journalists will be interested.
Thus: data and intuition are two verticals you need to act upon.
Remember that the actions you make have to be results-driven and optimised for success. Is success achievable? Do your actions speak for the whole organisation or are they in your own interests? If it’s the latter, you’ll need to speak to the rest of the team and work out a more collaborative plan.
This is an important one and carries a lot of weight in terms of content and SEO. The more relevant your content is to your target audience, the better they will respond. You need to know their pain point, then create content to serve that pain point. It should alleviate the impact of that pain point and offer solutions.
In terms of SEO, your keywords must accurately reflect the content being created. This has a massive effect on how your audience finds your content and, ultimately, finds you.
Be sure to think for yourself, too. How do the key responsibilities of your organisation tie into your objectives and targets? They need to be synchronised completely and in harmony with your growth strategy.
Time: as the hands of time strike ever closer to the launch of your new marketing campaign, you need to ensure that it is on-track and stays within the time allocated.
We are all subject to time limitations and have to train ourselves to do as much as we can and hit the target within the time allocated. You need to ensure that you’ve set yourself enough time in the first place. If not, then you’ve set yourself up to fail.
In marketing, timelines are vital. Clients will require a timeline for the work you’re going to do for them, and you’ll need one to set out that work. You need to monitor progress, align your goals and ensure that they’re achievable within the time.
These are just a few brief pointers as to how your marketing plan can benefit from the SMART methodology. It can be applied across many disciplines and has proven time and time again that we can achieve anything with a bit of SMART thinking.
The SMART objectives, in terms of marketing, give us perspective and pull us up and out of our own situational work. It’s especially helpful for creatives, who are often so close to their own work that they get tunnel vision.
If you’d like more information on the benefits of SMART objectives, and even a few templates to get you started, then take a look at our eBook. It sets out, in brilliant detail, the goals you need to drive success in the professional services sector.