In 1960, psychologist Edwin Locke revealed his theory that just by setting goals, you can improve performance. The goal itself can serve as an energizer. As we look at goal-setting tips for marketing agencies, let’s start with the why: Why are goals helpful?

Goals give you and your team something to focus on. Goals can help you make smaller decisions that will lead to bigger success. Just like a football team makes a series of small plays to move the ball down the field toward the goal line, your team will make a series of smaller decisions and actions to achieve the goal. Knowing where you want to go motivates employees and makes them feel part of something important. 

Ultimately, goals can foster growth. While growing your business can be challenging, if you have clear, effective goals outlined, they can point you toward success. 

The importance of setting achievable goals in marketing

As a business owner with your own agency, you already know the ins and outs of digital marketing strategy. You already know that the only way to determine the success of a campaign for a client is by creating digital marketing goals. The reason goals are important for marketing efforts is the same reason that goals are important for your business.

Primarily, goals set the direction for the work that goes into meeting them. Do you want to gain new clients, or do you want to retain the clients you already have? In the big picture, the answer is probably both. One of the best goal-setting tips for marketing agencies is to choose one actionable goal to focus on for a specific time frame.

When you decide to pursue a certain goal, it’s easier to get the team on the same page. You can clearly communicate the agency’s priorities and update the progress along the way. When you establish measurable goals, you can track the data to see if you can meet your business objective.

Sometimes, you may discover that your methods to reach your goals aren’t working. Working strategically toward a predetermined end makes it easier to identify when it’s time to pivot and adopt an alternative path to success.

The pitfalls of unrealistic goals

It can be challenging to know if your goals are unrealistic. The way to make your goals more achievable is by creating what are known as SMART goals. That acronym stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

Let’s use an example of a marketing agency owner who wants to get more social media followers. A realistic goal isn’t to “have more social media followers” because it doesn’t fit the first criteria of being specific. A more specific goal would be to see a 20% increase in followers on Facebook over the next six-month marketing cycle

Think of the SMART acronym as five goal-setting tips for marketing agencies. Also consider your underlying mission and business strategy in relation to your goal. For example, if you’d like your agency to focus on connecting with Gen Z business owners as a new target market, maybe a Facebook-related goal isn’t the most relevant social media engagement for finding those potential customers. The more refined and narrow your goals are, the more achievable they’ll be.

Tips for setting achievable goals

Start with a goal you can meet with the right strategy. Just as some clients want marketing campaigns to perform miracles, you must recognize the limitations of your environment to determine what realistic goals are worth setting.

1. Understand your capacity

Operating capacity is the first limiting factor that can push a goal from achievable to insurmountable. Restaurant owners know how many plates they can serve in an evening. Clothing manufacturers know how many shirts they can sew in a day. Business owners in the marketing industry need to know their operational capacity, too.

Do the math: Add up the hours everyone in your team is working and determine who will be responsible for what marketing objective you set with your goal. Yet another of many goal-setting tips for marketing agencies is to make sure there is enough bandwidth to accomplish what you want without lowering morale.

Capacity goes beyond time to include skills, too. Let’s say you want to set a goal to increase your qualified leads by 10% in the next year through the development of blog posts. Perhaps no one on your team is a strong writer. That goal is unrealistic unless you expand your capacity by hiring a writer to create blogs on marketing tips, for example.

2. Collaborate with your team

Don’t make goal setting a top-down mandate. Instead, get feedback from your team to see what they’re interested in developing on behalf of the agency in the upcoming quarter. Perhaps they know of new marketing channels, social media campaigns or marketing automation technology worth exploring.

Perhaps your team has a goal of helping their clients increase conversion rates on their websites. One of the steps to achieving your goal could be to gain knowledge on the psychology behind why people convert. Image source: Wix

You’ll need the entire team to work together to meet your business goals, so you might as well get them on board from the start. Let them know how important they are to your visions of expanding your market share by listening to their creative ideas for success. 

3. Prioritize business goals

Of all the goal-setting tips for marketing agencies, perhaps the best one is to schedule time for the tasks you consider most important. Once you set business goals for the upcoming months or year, what it takes to get there should be worth the time in your busy schedule. 

Achieving goals takes time, just as it takes time for marketing efforts to translate into conversion rates. Start right away with a strategic plan of actionable steps for meeting your goal. If you procrastinate, your bounce rate for success may be bigger than an email list filled with fake addresses.

Say your agency has a goal to lean into the AI Revolution for itself and its clients. Start small by learning how AI can benefit your agency. Source: Youtube

4. Break goals into smaller steps

Each goal you set for your company can be broken into measurable objectives, which you can create to make progress toward your goal. This is especially helpful if your goal seems impossible at first. Remember, you move the ball down the field one play at a time.

Let’s say you aimed to gain five new clients within the health and wellness industry in the next year. To achieve this goal, you’ll need to create strategies. You may want to write blogs that answer common questions — perhaps questions these business owners might ask to hire a marketing firm. That way, you can work to rank higher organically on results pages on their search engines. Or you may create a monthly contest on social media with a giveaway to collect the email addresses of that group. 

This is the time to be creative and experiment with new approaches. If the action step can be measured with a metric, you’ll have a way to know if the strategy is effective.

5. Set realistic time frames

Marketing agency owners know that outreach strategies can take time to reach the target audience, thanks to the rule of seven. This marketing concept refers to the idea that it takes seven different impressions before a customer is willing to complete the customer journey. Having patience is another of the many goal-setting tips for marketing agencies.

Don’t expect to reach your goals in a day. Instead, set realistic timelines that your team can follow without devolving into a crisis mentality that stresses everyone out. New goals usually mean new loads of work, which can be managed if you allow for enough time. 

Before you begin to implement any new strategy, make sure you ask for feedback from the people tasked to complete the work. Discuss any concerns they have so everyone feels confident they can find success within the time frames set out in the plan.

6. Regularly review and adjust

Finally, just like your team’s marketing plan for your clients, nothing is carved in stone. Having goals and trying different strategies to succeed is good, but not everything will work. Be willing to change as you follow these goal-setting tips for marketing agencies.

Set aside time in your schedule on at least a monthly basis to review the metrics that best demonstrate how well your measurable objectives are trending toward the goals you’ve set. Recognize when you need to give a strategy more time and when it’s time to shift direction and try something new.  

The benefits of achievable marketing goals

Creating new goals for your business, brainstorming effective action steps and then implementing that strategy is a lot of work. You may need a quick reminder of why successful business people, regardless of the industry, are constantly finding ways to grow their reach and enhance their reputation among the competition.

Here are three benefits you’ll gain by creating new marketing goals for your agency.

1. Enhanced team morale

It’s one thing for your team to see success on behalf of your clients, but it’s another thing altogether when they see that same success for themselves. McKinsey’s research reveals that goal-setting improves engagement and performance for employees. When your team succeeds at meeting a goal you’ve set, make sure to reward them with bonuses, an extra day off or even a free lunch. The greater the celebration, the more likely they’ll be up for the next challenge you present.

2. Stronger customer relationships

It’s rare that there is a business goal that isn’t connected to the bottom line, but none will succeed without a clear understanding of your target audience. When you embark on actions designed to connect better with people you want to foster as clients, you’re putting extra effort into relationships. As you likely know, relationships are at the heart of any successful business.

As you progress along with these goal-setting tips for marketing agencies, remember that your work — no matter how much you’ve been able to scale up during your company’s history — is simply just about people. As a marketing professional, you’re working to understand the pain points, habits, desires and, yes, goals of the people your clients care about. Care about those people, and care about your clients. That’s one of the best ways to find meaningful success.

3. Sustainable business growth

Every business needs to focus both on customer retention strategies and seeking out new clients. Whichever is the umbrella of your current goals, they all lead to the same end: sustainable growth. Even though such a large percentage of small businesses struggle in the United States, creating a thriving company isn’t impossible. 

Challenge yourself and your team each year with goals that feel just out of reach yet attainable. Make sure your goals follow the SMART acronym and create a dynamic plan to help you find success. With this growth mindset, your business can continue to expand its reach with each passing year.

Get started with your own marketing strategies today

These goal-setting tips for marketing agencies will help to boost morale, enhance relationships with your clients and support the growth of your business into the future. It’s not just another task on the to-do list — creating strategic goals helps you create a foundation to build on.

To get started on this work, take a bird’s eye view of your business brand identity and long-term vision. See where your projects are supporting, where you’d like to point your business, and where you’d like to improve. This may be enough to brainstorm your first goal. Then, organize a meeting with your team to sort out the details and get to work.

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