This is the first article in an eight part series on how to create a digital strategy.
The first thing to do when creating a digital strategy for your brand is have a clear direction. You need to have a purpose. You’ve heard about the importance of understanding your why. This will be covered in a separate post. When you create goals, start with your mission and your vision.
Mission is about your purpose it describes the product, service, offer, your customers, and the problem it solves. In short, it’s really who you are and what you offer.
Your vision is about defining the ideal future state for your business. It’s where you want to be and what you want to accomplish.
When you’re setting a goal that’s addressing your mission and your vision, you know you’re heading in the right direction. That will remind you of your why, so that you can stay focused and your team is aligned. If you’re a solopreneur, you’re aligned because you remember what’s important. If you have a team (no matter what size) and everyone knows the mission and vision, the expectation is they will be on board when you set this goal that helps you achieve the mission and vision. Everyone is fine and can rally behind this initiative. Mission and vision also acts as a screener to help you prioritize projects, customers needs, and even vendor selection.
What’s a SMART goal? SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-based. An example of a non-specific goal is: I want to grow my business. Sure, most of us want to grow our business, otherwise we wouldn’t be in this growth mindset. Maybe your goal is to improve the user experience for your customers. You need to be more specific. How do we define exactly what we want to accomplish? You have to be clear and Specific with several details.
First, let’s look understand how it’s Measurable. What measurements are currently in place and what measurements are you going to put in place to show that you’re making progress and ultimately reach the goal? Metrics are key to understanding your next move. One of the best examples of this is marathon training. You know how many miles you need to to run each week. You know how many miles you need to be increasing. Ultimately, you either finish or you don’t. If you finish, you know, you have just run 26.2 miles, even if you walked a little, you still finished. Consider what you want to achieve in your long-term and even short-term goals. Be specific, have measurements in place.
Next, we have to ask ourselves is this Achievable?
- Is this goal realistic with effort and commitment? Nobody said it was going to be easy.
- Do you have the resources and the skills to achieve this goal? If not, how can you get them?
- Are you dependent on anyone else?
- If you’re leading a team, does your team have those skills and goals? Do you need to provide training or guidance? Maybe you just need to be open and listen.
- Is there anything else that may prevent your success?
No one knew COVID was coming our way in 2020, or how long it would last. Now that we do, what is in your control? What is out of your control? Is there is anything that may prevent your success? How are you addressing new offerings from your competitors?
For Relevant, why is the goal significant to your business and your personal life? What is the impact of business growth, better customer experience, etc. Does this goal provide the data required to determine a product’s viability? There are after-effects to take into consideration. From a life perspective, as we shifted to a work-from-home (including the kids during remote learning) environment, does that impact your offer? My husband used to go to an office and now he, along with the kids, are home all day with me. My productivity initially dipped, and then boundaries and expectations were set. He was also able to join me in my daily workouts as he no longer had a commute. Think about why Peleton’s success was so steep.
Consider the goal and the impact on your life. When sales are good, you’re a lot happier, or at least I am. When they’re not so good, you may carry that stress home to your family or your friends. What values are reflected in this goal? Remember, we’re talking about relevancy and why this goal is important. As long as the goal is aligned with our mission and our vision, relevancy should be an easy checkmark.
Lastly, Time-based answers when this goal will be achieved. Set a date, plan ahead, and ensure enough time to allow for success. When you know your why, you stay focused on the benefits to your customers, you prioritize projects and tasks, and you have a real chance to achieve the goal.
A goal without a plan is just a wish.
Great, you now have a SMART goal. However, a goal without a plan is just a wish. An action plan is a roadmap for your strategies, tactics, and tasks that are chunked into actionable items. For example, if brand awareness is one of your strategies to achieve your goal, LinkedIn may be a tactic for you to connect with your customers (because your company is B2B and that’s where your customers are). Within LinkedIn, you identify ways to connect with existing and new connections to spread the word about your company (DM, tag in posts, use LI to generate lists of contacts to reach out to via phone, email, etc.). You also identify that content creation (writing posts and articles) helps to establish your brand’s expertise, so you need to identify your content topics, then write, select images, and schedule your posts and articles. Social media is also about listening and engaging, so you incorporate those elements as well into your chunked items. The key is to break down each chunk into something that needs to be completed in order to achieve that tactic.
I have a feeling that a few of you may be perfectionists or recovering perfectionists. I am a recovering perfectionist. I get it. You want it done right the first time. You take a heavy upfront approach and you don’t release. You tweak and still don’t release. Even more changes and you don’t release. At some point, you go live. Guess what? You wasted a lot of time when you weren’t releasing, because you weren’t getting feedback. People can’t react to something that doesn’t exist. If you’re an entrepreneur who is launching a new product and you don’t know if it’s going to work or not, even though you’ve done your competitive analysis, sometimes you need to just launch it, especially if it’s a service. Services typically aren’t associated with high sunk costs, depending on your industry. The sooner you can embrace that you don’t need to know the whole plan, but have a minimal viable service or product to test, do so. Take the opportunity to ask for feedback during research and alpha/beta launches. You have to ask, take action, and give people something that they can respond to.
A strategic marketing plan takes customers, needs, pain points and the customer journey into consideration. We’ll address how to join customers on their journey in the next article of this eight-part series.
I’d love to hear your questions and comments. Do you use SMART goals in your professional and/or personal life? Are you a planner that actually has an action plan detailed? Do you follow the plan?
Alexis Rago, the Big Kahuna at Marketing Mana, created The Okole Method to help her clients save time, money and frustration that many entrepreneurs experience when marketing their business. Alexis promises to kick you in your okole with real-time Assessment, Strategy, and Structure so you can achieve your business’ potential. Marketing Mana provides marketing strategy through one-on-one consultations, marathon sessions, and Mastermind Groups. Clients feel challenged, supported, and comfortable with Alexis as their coach and enjoy a higher marketing ROI because of her coaching and customer-centric marketing strategies.