Friday, September 4, 2009

Think SMART when writing your plan!

Writing a marketing plan is not about getting out as many information as you can. Quite the opposite, you should consider only the important, relevant information to use in your document. After all, writing a marketing plan is all about thinking SMART! And by SMART, of course I mean intelligently, but in a structured way by setting up objectives and goals that can be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-Bound. So, let’s have a closer look at this structure to set out our marketing plan’s meaningful objectives:

Specific: What is it exactly that you want to achieve? Make sure you are concrete, action-oriented, focused and well defined in your objectives. To help you set up your specific objectives think of WHAT you are going to do; WHY is it important; WHO is going to do what; WHEN do you want this to be completed and HOW are you going to do it? You do not need to answer all these questions in one objective, but you need that overall, your total objectives do.

  • “I would like to increase my company sales” – This is NOT a specific objective.
  • “To increase company sales by 20% by the end of the year” – This IS a specific objective.

Measurable: Whatever your objective, you need to be able to measure when it was completed and how well it was completed. Only by quantifying your objective you will be able to understand how well it actually performed, if and how you need to improve it. After all, as it’s often stated “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it!”

In the example above, by adding the percentage of sales aimed at, this will provide you with a measurable target. If, in the mid of the year you realise that the company is still too far away from achieving the aimed objective, you can re-establish it to a more realistic one or, if the company is selling on target, by the end of the year it will be easy to measure whether the 20% increase in sales has actually been achieved or even got a surplus.

Achievable: Your objectives must challenge you and your company, however they cannot be too challenging or too far in time as this will lead to yours and your staff’s de-motivation. These should be attainable and action oriented.

Setting your company the objective of opening 15 branches in 7 different countries within 10 years time will be too far in time and too vague to actually motivate you, so this is not considered as an achievable objective.

Realistic: objectives might be achievable but not realistic if you don’t have the resources to get there in the specified time frame. You must carefully consider that you have all the resources such as people, skills and money in place that will be able to make you reach your aims realistically.

If you are a new business and set the objective of having a £1,000,000 turnover by the end of the year, this might be an achievable objective if you have an extremely innovative product that everyone will want. However, as a new business you might not have the people or the money necessary to make the investment to achieve such ambitious objective, therefore it won't be realistic.

Time-bound: Associate each objective to a time limit as this will prompt for action to actually achieve the purposed objective by the specified time. Setting yourself a deadline will create the important sense of urgency and will make it possible to actually measure the success of the objective.

The successful establishment of key objectives taking in consideration the SMART rules, will set the basis of your marketing plan and all its marketing actions to be equally specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. Exactly what we are looking for in a GOOD marketing plan!