Marketing objectives

How to set SMART marketing objectives (and why to set some that aren’t)

Before you write a marketing plan you need to be clear on what it is you are trying to achieve. You need to set some marketing objectives.

Your key objective is likely to be to get more customers but you may want to set a number of other objectives to help you achieve this.

I normally suggest to clients that they have 4 – 6 main marketing objectives to help move them towards their vision.

What marketing objectives should you set?

Your marketing objectives are likely to include some of the following depending on the stage and priorities of your business:

  • increase awareness
  • generate leads
  • get more new customers
  • improve margins/profitability
  • launch a new product
  • target a new group of customers
  • improve customer satisfaction
  • increase repeat sales

Setting SMART marketing objectives

Most business literature suggests that all your marketing objectives should be SMART (specific, measureable, achievable, relevant and timely). As a starting point I think it is good practice to try to set SMART objectives like this:

Specific – define one key thing you are looking to achieve and set a numerical target (in some cases it can be useful to set a number of smaller numerical targets that will help you achieve the specific objective).

Measurable – decide what you need to measure, where you will find the data and how often you need to collect the information. Schedule time in your dairy to collect the data but more importantly make sure you analyse and act on your findings.

Achievable – set challenging objectives but be realistic – setting an unrealistic objective is counterproductive.

Relevant – I know it’s obvious but only set objectives that will move your business towards its vision and achieve its purpose.

Timely – be clear about when you want to achieve the objective and set milestones to keep you motivated.

BUT not all marketing objectives need to be SMART

I think it is a really useful exercise to try to make your marketing objectives SMART but you don’t need to stick to it for everything you are trying to achieve.

Make a commitment instead

If you can’t make an objective SMART you can make a commitment to change – you can be committed to make a change happen and set targets for the activities you have control over and intuitively know will move you towards what you are trying to achieve.

Increasing awareness as an example

Increasing awareness is important for many social entrepreneurs but it can be difficult to quantify and measure.

As a small business it’s almost impossible to estimate how many people are already aware you exist or set targets for how much you can increase this by in a given time period.

You probably do know, though, that to increase awareness you need to do things like speak at events, attend networking events, write articles, write a blog, hold webinars and be active on social media.

If you make a commitment to increase awareness you can set targets for these activities to help you achieve the change you want to see.

Don’t just be SMART – be committed as well

Don’t let business ‘best practice’ stop you making a positive impact. If there are things you know are important for you to achieve but you can’t define them as SMART objectives, include them in your marketing plan as commitments and set targets for the activities you know will make a difference.

What’s your experience?

Do you have SMART marketing objectives? Or commitments? If yes, do you have any tips for others to set theirs? And if not, what’s stopping you? Please share you experience in the comments box below.

Any questions?

If you have any questions, please get in touch. You can email me on and ask about this or any other marketing related question you have.

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About The Author

Suzanne Cleal

I run marketing training courses that help social entrepreneurs get more customers, build sustainable businesses and make a bigger impact. I believe that social businesses owe it to their audience to develop an authentic and successful marketing approach. With the right mindset, knowledge and tools marketing does not need to be difficult or take too much time and is essential to making a real difference.

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