Crisis communication header image of girl speaking through megaphone

Crisis Communication – How to Communicate To Your Customers During COVID-19

Audio Version — 6:51

The Covid-19 pandemic caught many businesses, specifically B2B firms, unprepared to manage a crisis of its magnitude. Addressing supply chain challenges, customer support, and customer communication proved toilsome, especially for businesses without a crisis communication plan.

Due to COVID-19 and lack of preparedness, many B2B firms found that customers were switching to other suppliers for various reasons. Having a communication plan does not guarantee that B2B customers would stay with their primary supplier. However, it does help reduce the firm’s churn rate if customers receive sufficient and timely communication about how the business manages its operations, employees, and supply chain during a crisis. In other words, communication is crucial in letting your customers know your operational plans to make informed business decisions that reduce the impact of their operations. 

When silence ensues, trust issues develop, and eventually, the customer looks for other suppliers that can help fill the void. Thus, B2B firms need a communication strategy in play when a crisis occurs, regardless if it’s a small crisis or one on a macro scale like the current pandemic.

Crisis Communication

A time of intense difficulty or danger defines a crisis. The Covid-19 Pandemic has proven to be both dangerous and challenging for people, families, and businesses. 

crisis communication illustration of man talking on computer screen.Each firm experiences its crisis and must communicate to its customers differently, based on their current circumstances. For example, a manufacturer’s raw material supply chain may be disrupted and may not produce products for distribution to retail customers. Another B2B firm may experience employees working remotely for the first time and experience technical and organizational logistic challenges. In either scenario, the company’s process is disrupted and may impact customers. Regardless, to maintain trust, keep customer confidence, and continue operating under a crisis effectively, the company must communicate its challenges and plan to manage the situation while still serving the customers’ needs.

There are three steps to take in identifying the crisis before a firm can create a communication strategy. They must understand their unique situation by:

 

  1. Identifying the crisis and controlling the narrative:
    A company must first acknowledge that they have a dilemma. Ignoring or denying a problem may worsen the situation. Additionally, to keep customers, vendors, or possibly the media (for more substantial firms) from creating rumors, the company experiencing the crisis needs to control the narrative of what is occurring so that outside entities do not spread misinformation.
  2. Isolate your crisis:
    1. If your organization is experiencing challenges in one part of the business, isolate the crisis to just that area.
    2. Get ahead of the situation by communicating quickly to employees to keep them from spreading untruths about the company to customers and competitors.
    3. Explain what the company is doing about the challenges and how and when the company plans to solve them.
  3. Manage the crisis:
    Regardless of how small or large your crisis is, if you identified the situation, isolated it, then managing the crisis should be simple. Suppose your organization does not have a Communications Director, as many small to mid-sized B2B firms do not. In that case, you will need to assign the role to someone who can manage the situation, answer questions, and direct communication to outbound channels for customers.

What Should You Communicate to Customers During COVID-19?

Now that you have identified the crisis your firm faces, isolated it to the relevant department or process, and are managing the situation; It’s a good idea to know what customers want to know about how the business is handling COVID-19 or any other crisis. Below are some popular questions customers have about how businesses are managing their operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Popular Questions Customers Have About Businesses Handling COVID-19:

  • Explain how the leadership team plans to keep customers and employees safe from contamination if customers are required to visit the workplace or employees must be present at the worksite and are not working remotely.
  • If your organization produces products, specifically food or medication, or vitamins, explain the process of how the organization is keeping the products safe.
  • Identify any potential delays in products or services and how management plans to manage the uncertainties.
  • How is the organization managing any potential outbreaks and staff shortages?
  • What communication channels customers can use to receive updates and contact customer service.

Download five FREE customer crisis communication letter templates!

Click the link to visit the download page.

Channels Used to Communicate with Your Customers

crisis communication illustration - communication channelsTo create the most impact with your crisis communication, you need to determine where and how your customers are receiving your company communication. Do your customers receive a company newsletter? Are they active on social media sites, or do they visit your company website to get their information? You will want to deploy your message over several communication channels, such as your company website and a social media page such as Facebook. If you send out a company newsletter, that would be an excellent place to share your crisis communication.

Here are a few communication channels to consider when deploying your message:

  • Email
  • Social media
    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • LinkedIn
    • YouTube
  • Company website
  • Newsletter
  • Regular mail
  • Press Releases

Conclusion

When faced with a crisis that impacts your operations, like COVID-19, you would benefit from having a crisis communication strategy. You first want to identify the crisis, then develop a plan to control the narrative so that misinformation does not paralyze your organization. Next, isolate the crisis, meaning localize it to just the impacted area of your business and get ahead by quickly communicating the crisis to employees and how you are handling it to stop any potential rumors. Finally, manage the crisis. If you identify and isolate the crisis, then managing it should be easy.

Once you have accomplished the central parts of crisis management, you will need to select the high-value channels to communicate your message to customers. Communication channels may include but are not limited to email, your website, social media sites, and even regular mail.

Acting quickly, communicating honestly and effectively with a plan may reduce brand damage and keep customers from abandoning your business.

 

Young men and women gathering around looking at a cell phone - customer engagement marketing

Customer Engagement Marketing to Grow Your Brand

Audio Version — 6:45

To improve your customer engagement strategies, “Ask not how you can sell, but how you can help.”
-Kellogg School of Management

 

Mass Marketing: Marketing from the Past

Customer Engagement Article Hand Sketch of mass media marketingIf you do not have a customer engagement marketing strategy, you may miss out on opportunities to build your brand and grow your business. 

Businesses engaging their customers are actively involved in customer relationship management. In other words, they are improving their brands effectively and quicker by managing their relationships with customers. Companies that operate under the “old way” of marketing are not effective at managing customer relationships and thus miss the mark in gaining valuable custom insights through customer engagement.

The way companies market in the past was a one size fits all strategy. The old way included mass marketing brands to broad segments of consumers. It’s sort of like casting a wide net into the ocean, hoping to catch a few fish, and as we have all heard by now, “hope is not a strategy.” At least I “hope” you have heard that quote.

The mass marketing approach created challenges for brands. Marketers had limited channels for customer involvement if any, and brands had little interest in customer involvement. Direct customer communication was practically non-existent, and marketers missed opportunities to profoundly and intimately engage with their customers’ needs and wants. Also, non-existent with the old marketing method was collecting any customer data or sentiment toward a brand and its products. Firms could not capture those insights that could improve customer service or new product ideas, like Cake pops and Pumpkin Spice latte products that consumers created on Starbucks customer engagement platforms

Customer Engagement Marketing

The internet and mobile devices gave rise to a new marketing paradigm known as customer engagement marketing. Customer engagement marketing nurtures direct and continuous customer involvement in shaping brand conversations, experiences, and community. Customer engagement marketing leads to brands creating meaningful brand stories to make the brand a significant part of consumers’ conversation and life. A great example of customer engagement marketing is the Dove brand.

Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign targets women of all ethnicities and allows them to directly engage via Dove’s social media pages.

Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches campaign, a video depicting how women view themselves and how others see them, launched in 2013 and has received almost 69-million views on their YouTube channel. The campaign video has generated conversations from thousands of consumers that range from positive to negative responses. By allowing consumers a platform to voice their opinions through their social media channels, Dove can gain valuable insights about their consumers and provide a medium for consumers to engage with the brand. Dove’s customer engaged marketing makes the brand a meaningful part of the consumers’ conversation and lives.

What Drives Customer Engagement Marketing?

Ever since Tim Burns Lee created the first graphical web browser in 1991, businesses began populating the internet with their web pages. As consumers started to shop online and social media took root, consumers became better informed about brands. They were more connected and empowered as consumers because they had a platform to voice their likes, dislikes, and opinions about brand products. Social media took away the power of marketing from brands and handed it to consumers. In turn, brands are engaging customers in ways that help forge and share their brand experiences.

Because consumers are more empowered than before, brands need to create market offerings and messages that engage consumers and not interrupt them as they once did with the mass marketing approach. Brands need to listen to customer sentiment and provide feedback as needed. Companies can do so through various customer engagement platforms, such as:

  • Social media sites: LinkedIn and Facebook
  • Microblogs: Twitter and Instagram
  • Video: Youtube
  • Blogs: Your company blog
  • Mobile apps: Most social brands have apps that allow customer engagement
  • Consumer-generated review systems: Yelp

All of the above platforms help brands entice customer engagement on a personal, interactive level.

 

The Key to Customer Engagement Marketing

There is no magic formula for customer engagement marketing. The key is to find ways to enter target consumers’ conversations with engaging and relevant brand messages. Merely posting a random, funny video, creating a social media page, and not staying consistent with posts, or hosting a blog isn’t enough. Marketing managers need to understand their customers and the high target value social sites where their customers congregate.

Offer Real Value

An excellent place to start is to offer customers real value. Rather than providing only product information, create meaningful content that adds value to your customer’s life. For content to be valuable, the brand needs to connect to that content legitimately. Looking back at the Dove Real Life Sketches example, the brand can legitimately connect with the content. Dove produces beauty products, and women buy those products, and the campaign speaks to women about their perception of beauty.

Inspire People

Customers want accurate information and education about brands, but they also wish to be inspired. Airbnb’s Cheers to Ten Years of Hosting video inspires its customers while providing informational content. 

Provide Entertainment Value

A brand can inform and inspire, but it also needs to entertain. The “stickiness” of a brand’s engagement message comes from its entertainment value. The stronger the entertainment value, the more your customer will remember and get engaged. Take a look at Always’ inspiring yet entertainment video for their #likeagirl campaign. They deliver a powerful message that informs, educates, inspires, and entertains.

Be Consistent

You can have the best intentions as a brand, but if you are not consistent in delivering your message, your customers will not engage with your brand. Develop a brand engagement calendar that includes content posting days and times and your company’s communication channels to engage customers.

 

Remember, not everyone wants to engage deeply or regularly with every brand. Successful customer engagement marketing means making relevant and genuine contributions to target consumers’ lives and interactions. For customers that want to engage, you will gain valuable insights. Your content will reinforce your brand story and message for customers who do not wish to engage with your brand.

Image of US dollars with charts for the marketing tip on COVID-19

Top Reasons Why B2B Buyers are Switching from Their Suppliers During COVID-19

Audio Version — 1:17

According to eMarketer, B2B buyers are switching from their current suppliers to new suppliers amid COVID-19. The top reason for the switch is that existing suppliers are unable to offer delivery. The pandemic has placed a strain not only on suppliers but on the supply chain as well. 

Additionally, B2B customers switched suppliers because the supplier is out of stock; their existing supplier cannot offer online ordering and a limited product range with the current supplier.

COVID-19 has exposed operational vulnerabilities within B2B firms. Many firms cannot react quickly to the crisis and lack effective contingency plans to manage such a shock to their business operations and industry. 

Why B2B Customers are switching suppliers emarketer graph

 

Looking ahead, to keep B2B Buyers, companies need to create plans that include contingencies in managing unexpected surges in demand, sudden stock shortages, restocking delays, and employee shortages due to illness or fear of catching the virus.

The solution is not simple. However, suppose B2B firms want to reduce the impact of COVID-19 or any other potential industry crippling event. In that case, they need effective processes and procedures to manage some of the suggestions noted above. Marketers may also need to adapt to the new “normal” and acquire new post-COVID skills to thrive.

Facebook ad KPIs

Catapult Your Sales by Setting the Right Facebook Ad KPIs

Audio Version — 13:35

Measuring Facebook Ad KPIs

facebook ad KPI hand drawn illustrationIf you have ever spent money advertising and promoting your product or service on Facebook, you undoubtedly had an objective in mind. For example, maybe your goal was to generate $10,000 in sales from a specific campaign or that you wanted to sell 500 units of your product or, perhaps, sign up ten new clients.

Whatever your goal was, have you ever measured your ad campaign performance relative to your objectives? That is, did you establish key performance indicators (KPIs) to determine if you are on track toward reaching your goals? Don’t worry; if you have not, you’re not alone.

As social media advertising spend amongst business owners and marketers increases yearly (see eMarketer.com chart below), so does the competition. To give you a competitive advertising edge, I discuss several Facebook ad KPIs to monitor when advertising on the social media platform. I also discuss why they are essential to your sales success.

Facebook ad KPIs social media spend chart

 

What Are Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)?

Before I dive into the Facebook sales KPIs, allow me to provide an overview of what a KPI is; for those that need a refresher explanation, of course.

A KPI is a strategic objective that targets where you want your company to be by a specific date. It helps you monitor where you are at the present moment with where you want to be in the future.

One example of a KPI may state, 

 

“We will increase revenue for product “A” by 10% by the end of the second quarter.”

 

Notice that the stated objective is to increase revenue for a specific product. The target is a 10% increase by a particular date. The more specific you write your KPIs, the easier it is to measure them.

Facebook Ad KPIs

As part of an ongoing ad campaign management process, I recommend two essential metrics for your Facebook advertising success. The first metric is the Cost-Per-Action (CPA) metric.

Cost-Per-Action (CPA)

Cost-Per-action, sometimes referred to as cost-per-acquisition, is perhaps one of the critical KPIs that you want to track for ad spending. CPA allows the advertiser to pay for only the actions a user makes due to your ad.

An action can be any one of the following:

  • Purchase from your E-Commerce site.
  • App download.
  • Newsletter Signup.
  • Registration for your webinar or conference.
  • Or just about any other activity that requires a visitor’s engagement.
facebook call to action image example for facebook ad kpis article

A sample ad from Facebook desktop news feed shows the advertiser using CPA advertising to increase downloads of their article.

 

For example, you can use CPA to monitor and control costs for visitors who click on your ad link versus paying for cost-per-impression (CPM). 

Note

Depending on your ad and desired action, CPA could cost you less than deploying a CPM ad strategy.

A high CPA cost can lead to higher costs and indicate that your Facebook ad is not performing well. However, the caveat is, you may experience a high CPA in the initial days that your ad is running. It is best to allow your ad to run for at least three days before checking the CPA. Suppose your ad CPA is still high after a few days from its initial launch. In that case, you need to make adjustments to your ad visuals or headline, target group, or Placement.

 

Example Facebook CPA Ad KPI

A written Facebook CPA ad KPI may read like the following:

 

Reduce Facebook CPA by 20% over the next three months.

 

The KPI assumes that you are past the initial ad launch by at least three days and that your CPA is higher than usual. Note that the KPI has a strategic objective to improve ad costs. It states a measurement strategy to reduce costs and has an explicit target within the next three months. 

 

CPA Calculation and Formula

To calculate CPA, divided the advertiser’s cost by the total conversions (or actions taken due to your ad). 

cost per action formula

 

As an example, let’s assume that the total cost to advertise is $1,000 for a campaign. You receive 25 actions for that $1,000 campaign. 

 

CPA= $1,000/25

 

Your CPA in this example is $40 per action. Some may regard this as expensive. However, compared to industry benchmarks, if you are in the auto, home improvement, or finance and insurance industry, the CPA is considered lower than average. If you are in the apparel industry, your CPA is high, and you must make adjustments to reduce your costs.

 

CTR Facebook ad KPI illustrationClickthrough Rate (CTR)

The clickthrough rate (CTR) metric is vital to monitor, especially for ads running two weeks or more. Although CTR is a simple metric, it is a telling one. 

A CTR drop may indicate that viewers are passing on looking at your ad in their Facebook feeds. Like products, ads have a shelf life too. For example, suppose you experience a 1.6% CTR for beauty products with a specific ad. In that case, your ad performs at the industry benchmark. If your CTR drops to below 1.6% and continues to decline over time, it may be necessary to change your ad’s visuals or the headline, or both.

Suppose your ad does not generate any clickthrough. In that case, it’s also an indication that there are possible issues with your ad’s visuals, headline, or target market. One suggestion is to turn your ad off and run several ad tests to determine which ad generates an increase in CTR.

Example Facebook CTR Ad KPI

An example Facebook CTR KPI may read something like the following:

 

“Increase our CTR on ad “X” from 0.8% to 1.4% over the next three weeks.”

 

CTR Calculation and Formula

To arrive at the CTR, divide the total number of clicks by the total number of impressions.

clickthrough rate formula

 

As an example, let’s assume that your ad received 200 clicks from a total of 1,000 ad impressions. That’s a 0.20% CTR rate; it’s low for almost all industries where on average, the CTR is 0.90%. In this example, you missed your 0.8% CTR (as noted in the above KPI example) and would need to adjust your KPI and tactics to reach the 0.8% CTR before trying to accomplish the 1.4% CTR. Your new KPI may read like the following:

 

“Establish a 0.8% CTR benchmark in the next two months.”

 

On the other hand, if you reach your KPI, you will want to set new goals.

Optimization

Facebook ad KPI success illustrationTo optimize is to make something as good as possible. Our goal is to consistently “tweak” the ad until it is as good as possible for Facebook ad optimization. When optimizing an ad, aside from changing the visuals and copy, headline, or call-to-action (CTA), there are five key optimization areas to focus on:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Country/Region
  • Placement
  • Frequency 

Additionally, for new Facebook ads, it’s best to allow the ad to gather data for at least five days after launching the campaign before you begin the optimization process. For older advertisements that were once successful and are now showing a lower CTR, take a look at the visuals, copy, or headline before optimizing any of the above criteria. (See the section on CTR above.)

Age

You’ll launch your ad campaign targeting a specific age group. However, you may find that your highest converting age target group is something else. Facebook allows advertisers to target subscribers from the age of 13 to 65+.

As your ad matures, examine your best-converting age groups. Are they what you expected? Did you discover an entire age segment with a higher conversion rate than your initial age target group? The strategy with age is to move your entire budget to the highest converting age demographic. 

Two possible key performance indicators for age demographics may read like the following:

 

Increase CTR in the age demographic (ad your age range here for the best converting CTR) to 35% conversion within the next 30-days.”

or

Increase sales in the secondary age demographic by 5% in the next seven days.”

 

The first KPI addresses the highest performing CTR age demographic. In contrast, the second KPI addresses growing the second-highest age demographic to increase your revenue.
Once you have established your highest conversion age demographics, the focus should be on growing the second-highest demographic by optimizing your ad visuals, headline, color, or copy.

 

Gender

Facebook allows the advertiser to target a specific gender, men and women. Following the same guidelines as with the age demographics section above, examine which gender category is converting more. Suppose one gender demographic is higher in conversions. In that case, it may be wise to move your ad budget toward that gender category.

Your product may not be suited for both genders. If it does apply to both genders, optimizing the ad for the poorly performing gender demographic may be required.

An example KPI for this demographic may read like this: 

 

“Improve conversions for (gender with low conversions) by 25% of the higher-performing gender category within two weeks.”

 

Country/Region

Targeting different countries or regions can pose challenges for new advertisers. It can also pose challenges for advertisers entering into new markets. The more regions/countries you target, the more the ad can potentially cost you or not perform as well due to a variety of reasons.

It’s best to begin your ad campaign targeting one specific region, providing that your product or service is suitable for that region. Allow at least five days to pass before reviewing the CTR for the ad. If your ad is performing poorly, your options may include optimizing the ad image or headline. 

Once you have mastered and increased the Facebook ad CTR of a specific region, begin experimenting with other same language regions. If you target countries that are non-English speaking, your ad will need to reflect the native language.

Two possible key performance indicators for the country/region metric may read like the following:

 

To increase ad conversions in (name of country) by 25% in the next two weeks.”

or

To enter into new territory (name territory) and have sales earning $500/month by the end of February (or whichever time frame you decide to specify).”

 

Placement

The Placement KPI (or Place) is one of the 4P’s of marketing. Placement identifies where you promote your product or service. 

Facebook offers several ad placement locations on its desktop and mobile platforms. The key is to find the optimal Place on their platform that delivers the highest conversions for your ad. 

As a general rule, ads performing lower than 1% conversion may need further monitoring and continue to underperform, optimize the ad, or eliminate its Placement. 

Another good practice is swapping the low-performing ad spot with a higher-performing (converting) ad to see if the Placement is driving down conversions or the ad itself.

One possible KPI for Placement may read like this:

 

Increase ad conversions of the Facebook right column ad to 10 complete sales per week by the end of the month.”

 

The KPI assumes that you are running several ad placement spots and want conversion improvement on the right column ad.

Frequency

Frequency refers to the number of ad impressions shown to an individual. Frequency becomes essential when the ad shown continues to increase and your conversions begin to decrease. The cause is likely one or several of the following:

  • Your ad has been seen too many times by the same target group. 
  • Your audience size is too small. 
  • The ad’s image needs refreshing. 
  • Your offer is “tired,” and you need a new offer.

Frequency also correlates with increased ad costs. As your frequency number increases, so too does the cost of the ad.

A possible KPI for Frequency may read like this:

 

To reduce our ad Frequency from 8 impressions per person to 3 impressions per person by the end of the week.”

 

The KPI addresses the increased impressions the ad has and the goal of reducing the impressions per person to reduce ad expense and increase conversions per impression.

Frequency Calculation and Formula

Calculate Frequency by dividing the number of impressions by the ad Reach (how many ad exposures per unique individual).

ad frequency formula

 

Summary

Facebook advertising can be lucrative for your business if executed effectively. Setting useful KPIs, monitoring them, and making the necessary adjustments along the way to correct for low-performing ads is essential to your ad success. The key to successful optimization is to monitor and fine-tune your progress consistently. When something is not working, test and adjust until it does work.

Image of womans hand writing for three step writing process

Three-Step Writing Process for Business Communications

Audio Version — 4:09

 

Effective business writing is essential to a company because it creates efficient communication that leads to:

  • Increased productivity 
  • Faster problem solving 
  • More decisive decision-making
  • Increased profits 

It also helps boost the organization’s credibility.

To some professionals, writing is a daunting task. So much so that they have a fear of penning ink on paper and often miss deadlines or poorly communicating company or marketing information. The writers writing paralysis ends up wasting company resources such as time and money. The truth is, writing, like any other skill, takes practice to master.

Business writing skills are a necessary skill-set for marketers to master. As part of the job, a marketing professional must write advertising copy, press releases, sales copy, internal reports, social media postings, blog posts, and much more content.

The three-step writing process helps business writers, like marketing professionals, create compelling messages in any medium. It allows them to communicate their message effectively while meeting their target audience’s needs. The three-step process also ensures that writers make the best use of their time and the audience’s time. As the writer gets more practice with the three-step writing process, it becomes easier to write. 

Below are the steps to the three-step writing process (For a visual representation, see the Three-Step Writing Process chart below.).

Three-Step Writing Process

  1. Plan
  2. Write
  3. Complete

 

Three Step Writing Process Chart

Download the Three-Step Writing Process PDF.

FREE.

Three-Step Writing Process Details

 

1. Planning

Analyze the Situation
Define the reason or purpose for writing and develop an audience profile.

Gather Information
Determine the needs of the audience and gather the information required to satisfy those needs.

Select the Right Delivery Vehicle
Determine the best medium (delivery vehicle) for communicating the message.

Organize the Information
Define the main communication idea and select a direct or an indirect approach. Outline the communication content.

 

2. Write

Adapt to the Audience

 

pencil illustration for three step writing process articleConnect with your audience by being sensitive to their needs and using a “you” attitude. (See explanation of the “you” attitude below.)

Build a strong relationship with the audience by establishing credibility and projecting your company’s brand image. Use a conversational tone, plain English, and an appropriate voice to deliver the message.

Compose the Message
Choose strong words that create useful sentences and coherent paragraphs.

 

3. Complete

Revise the Message
Evaluate the content and review it for readability. If required, edit the content and rewrite it for conciseness and clarity.

Produce the Message
Use useful design elements for a clean and professional layout.

Proofread the Message
Review the communication piece for errors in the layout. Check the spelling and mechanics as well.

Distribute the Message

Deliver the message using the chosen communication vehicle. Make sure that all documents and files successfully distributed are relevant to the communication item.

While writing may seem challenging at first, practicing often and implementing the three-step writing process will help improve writing skills. The more a business professional writes and uses the three-step process, the more automatic their writing becomes.


 

The "You" Attitude

The “you” attitude is an audience-centered approach to communicating that involves understanding and respecting your audience and making every effort to get your message across in a meaningful way.

The “you” attitude contrasts messages in stark contrast to statements about “me.” The goal is to learn as much as possible about your audience. Learn things such as their biases, education, age, status, style, and personal and professional concerns. Using this information, you can satisfy their need through communication.


SMART Goals Header Image

Writing SMART Goals for Marketing

Audio Version — 7:48

According to this Psychology Today article, setting goals is linked to self-confidence, motivation, and autonomy. Additionally, psychologist Gail Matthews conducted a 2015 study on goal setting. She learned that you are 42% more likely to complete goals by just writing them down

SMART goals first emerged in 1981 when George T. Doran, a consultant and former Director of Corporate Planning for Washington Water Power Company, published a paper titled “There’s a S.M.A.R.T. Way to Write Management’s Goals and Objectives.” In his writing, Doran writes,

 

“‘How do you write meaningful objectives?’- that is, frame a statement of results to be achieved, Managers are confused by all the verbal from seminars, books, magazines, consultants, and so on. Let me suggest therefore, that when it comes to writing effective objectives, corporate officers, managers, and supervisors just have to think of the acronym SMART. Ideally speaking, each corporate, department and section objective should be: (SMART).”

hnd sketch of a target for Writing SMART marketing goals articleDoran’s original definition identified five criteria, which he noted that not every objective would make use of all five measures.

  • Specific: target a particular area for improvement.
  • Measurable: quantify, or at least suggest, an indicator of progress.
  • Assignable: specify who will do it.
  • Realistic: state what results can realistically be achieved given available resources.
  • Time-related: determine when the result can be achieved.

Over the years, the S.M.A.R.T goal criteria have changed to adapt to meet specific objectives. To write S.M.A.R.T. marketing goals, I modified a few of the requirements to meet the expectations of what is expected from a marketing goal: achievable and results-oriented.

SMART MARKETING GOALS

Without realistic, time-bound goals, it becomes a challenge to achieve your desired results, regardless of your discipline. Imagine navigating a ship in the ocean without a navigational system; you’re bound to wander aimlessly and eventually run out of resources. The same can be said if you try to achieve results – at work, school, or personal life – without a plan. Thus, developing sound marketing goals is essential to managing the performance of your marketing initiatives.

When setting goals, it is best to use the SMART goal writing process. The acronym S.M.A.R.T. refers to:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Results-focused
  • Time-bound

The key to setting and writing goals is the more specific and realistic you are about your goals, the better you can manage the goals and their outcomes.

However, before I dive into each SMART goal component’s meaning, I want to share a few examples of SMART marketing goals.

Example Marketing Goals (Objectives)

The following marketing goals are similar to what you may find in a typical marketing plan:

  • to increase sales of (specific) product/brand X by 15% over the next 18 months
  • to increase market share for product/brand X by 7 percent (in a particular region) over the next 12 months
  • to generate 200 new leads via the website each month
  • to increase distribution of product X (in a specific region/territory) from 15% to 30% within 12 months

Notice that the above marketing objectives already follow the SMART goals format; they are specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time-bound.

How to Apply Each Letter of the SMART Goal

In the following copy, I will explain the different parts of the SMART goal and provide you an example in terms of writing SMART marketing goals. Again, remember that you can use the SMART goal process for any goal setting initiative, such as personal, work, or school.

Specific:

A marketing goal should define what you are going to do. The Specific in the S.M.A.R.T. model answers the What, Why, and How of the plan.

Example:

The automotive parts division will increase car battery sales by 10% over the next 12 months using cross-selling, up-selling, and direct marketing strategies to increase revenue to hire a new counter salesperson.

Explanation: 

  1. What = Automotive parts division will increase sales of car batteries by 10%.
  2. How = By using cross-selling, up-selling, and direct marketing strategies.
  3. Why = To increase revenue to hire a new employee, a counter salesperson.

Measurable

hand sketch of man looking above the cloudsThere should be concrete evidence that you have accomplished your marketing goal or objective. Typically, the entire goal statement is a measurement for the project.

Example:

The automotive parts division will increase car battery sales by 10% over the next 12 months using cross-selling, up-selling, and direct marketing strategies to increase revenue to hire a new counter salesperson.

Explanation: 

The measurable metric is whether the parts department increased sales by 10% within the 12 months.

Achievable

Marketing goals should be achievable. The goal should challenge you, yet be defined enough so that it is achievable. To be feasible, you must have the proper resources: skills, personnel, and finances.

Almost all realistic goals can are achievable when you plan each step and establish a timeline. By following steps, you can achieve marketing goals that seemed impossible. On the other hand, if you develop impossible goals, you may never reach them.

Example:

The automotive parts division will increase car battery sales by 10% over the next 12 months using cross-selling, up-selling, and direct marketing strategies to increase revenue to hire a new counter salesperson.

Explanation: 

To achieve this marketing objective, you must have a skill-set in selling and direct marketing techniques. Without these skills, you will not be able to accomplish these goals.

Results-focused

Marketing goals should measure outcomes, not activities. Hence, goals are result-focused.

Example:

The automotive parts division will increase car battery sales by 10% over the next 12 months using cross-selling, up-selling, and direct marketing strategies to increase revenue to hire a new counter salesperson.

Explanation: 

The result of this marketing goal is the ability to hire a new counter salesperson and to increase revenue over the past years’ performance.

sketch of man next to hour glass for writing SMART marketing goalsTime-bound

The marketing goal should link to a time-frame that creates a practical sense of urgency.

Example:

The automotive parts division will increase car battery sales by 10% over the next 12 months using cross-selling, up-selling, and direct marketing strategies to increase revenue to hire a new counter salesperson.

Explanation: 

The next 12 months provides a time-bound deadline. The marketing goal can still be more specific by offering a precise end date.

Summary

Writing goals is essential for your success. Specifically, writing marketing goals is critical to the success of any business navigating the marketing environment. Using the SMART goal methodology can help ensure that goals are realistic and achievable on time. These lead to a focused, intentional, and methodical approach toward reaching personal, academic, or business success.