Following what is typically a long holiday break, we sometimes return to the office in a bit of a haze.

This blur usually gives way quickly (#coffeemakeseverythingpossible) and we’re faced with sitting down and setting some goals. YES!! (Oh, did I hear a heavy sigh?)

We all get it: goals are critical. Ultimately, goals are targets, specific somethings at which we aim our energy and resources with defined outcomes in mind.

Unfortunately, marketing goals can seem, well…difficult. 

Let me explain…

SALES are black and white – your firm wins the project or they don’t. The contract is signed or it isn’t.

MARKETING floats in the grey tones – did a key prospect see your LinkedIn article? Did this lead them to check out your website? Did that potential note your other posts, maybe your Twitter or Instagram feed? Did they check out the profiles of your firm’s other executives? Did they find common connections? Did they ask a trusted colleague about your firm at a networking event two months later? Did they forget all of these experiences only to be reminded of them when they saw mention in trade publication of your firm’s very cool project that just broke ground?

After five… or 12… or 22 months of this sort of “bumping into” your firm and receiving consistent, on-brand experiences (aka marketing and brand positioning), did this prospect contact someone at your firm? Did they put your firm on an RFQ list?

All the analytics in the world won’t give you the specifics of every prospects path to your door. As a result, we sometimes don’t even try to set “goals” for this activity.

Instead, we simply task ourselves to get busy, super busy! We work hard to post and be seen, trying to be everywhere all the time. Experts in the field call this “shotgun” marketing (#raisehand).

Unfortunately, shotgun marketing is a waste of time.

Even with the many shades of marketing grey, we can still set goals that will focus our efforts to target a strong brand position. 

We also get this: unlike the end game that is sales, marketing goals are constant and cumulative. While the goal of sales is to harvest, marketing goals are to till, plant and water. Marketing is cultivation.

So…how do you set cultivation goals?

Here’s one example:

Last year, I facilitated a collaborative brand positioning process with a burgeoning urban planning firm that confirmed many strengths and revealed some specific opportunities. Among other things, the process identified strong brand perceptions such as innovative thought-leadershipstrong connectivityand deep industry knowledge. We also learned that some perceptions defined the firm exclusively in terms of the founding principal and that concerns existed, however unfounded, about sufficient staff support.

These take-aways evolved into marketing goals for the firm including (but not limited to…):

  • Confirm thought-leadership position
  • Emphasize breadth of client/network connections
  • Share industry-specific expertise valuable to clients/collaborators
  • Shine spotlight on staff capacities and expertise

These goals provided laser marketing focus and a foundational platform from which to build a consistent brand. 

As I know you know, this level of clarity is no small feat.

Setting marketing goals begins with a keen understanding of your firm’s brand (who you are, what you do and what differentiates you) including how the firm is perceived by clients and colleagues. From this foundation, actionable goals can be identified to confirm and emphasize strengths as well as shift or even refute perceived challenges.

Before you get super busy marketing, get clear by identifying some brand-driven goals that will effectively guide all things marketing: from proposal responses to content creation to social media activity to conference participation…and beyond.

Need support setting your marketing goals? Let’s talk