Skip the Resolutions. Set Meaningful Goals.

I’m sure there are a lot of people out there like me, who read all the New Year’s resolution blog posts  and well, …it always feels a little flat.  A little like, yawn…same story, different year. Lose weight, get organized, exercise more, be a better partner, etc. I get it. Be a better Me,although I’m not always sure what is so wrong with the current Me… I like her a lot.   While 45% of people make New Year’s resolutions, did you know that only 8% of people are actually successful in achieving their resolutions?  I’m actually surprised it’s that high.

In my work and life experience, I feel it is much more important to develop meaningful and achievable goals. And the new year is a great time to set new goals or revisit your current ones.  But really any time is better than not at all.

There are a lot of great goal setting articles out there, but what I have found to be most successful is  –

  1. keep goals simple, not too complicated,
  2. meaningful and attainable (not slam dunks, but not hail mary’s either)
  3. don’t create too many
  4. be specific, focused, and measurable.

Also make sure to include steps or resources/support needed to make those goals happen.

In our business of digital marketing, goal setting should be done at a few different levels and can lead to better prioritization of activities, growth, and job/client satisfaction.

Client Goals – The beginning of the year is a great time to have an update meeting or better yet, lunch, coffee or happy hour, to discuss your client’s goals and any changes in their organization’s priorities or KPIs that you should consider in account management and your digital marketing strategy.

  • Do they have a new boss or any executive changes in the org? Are there any changes in the strategic direction of their businesses?   If so, will there be changes on how their programs are evaluated?
  • Is the current level of reporting satisfactory?  Can any reporting be automated or created into dashboards for self-service?
  • Do they want to grow revenue/lead volume or is cost efficiency more important to them?  Do they have strict metrics you need to hit or is there some “wiggle room” in order to test some new things?
  • What are they doing in other marketing channels and do they have any learnings about what has worked or not worked that can apply to search, social or display programs?  How are they looking at attribution across channels?
  • Are there site migrations, site redesigns, new products, or anything coming down the pipeline that you can plan and be ready for?

The list of questions can go on and on.  But having the conversation is important in itself to grow the partnership with the client.

Employee Goals – In managing employees at various companies, I’ve found that setting several different types of goals usually for a six month period often works best.  Revisit goals with your manager/reports every month.  Make the time for it and do it,have the conversation even though you may think things are pretty obvious.  This can make your manager be aware and understand roadblocks or hurdles to help get you support, without sounding like complaining or excuses.  I like to set 3-5 simple and specific goals in 4 varied goal areas, and then if they are achieved in a shorter timeframe, celebrate and then develop new goals.

  • 1-2 Specific job related goals – performance, revenue/profitability growth, control costs, complete a project, develop a template/process, build client relationship.
  • Professional development goal – certifications, get training, learn a new skill or build a weak skill.
  • Interest pursuit goal – something that keeps an employee engaged and excited about their work (intrinsic motivation). Often these interests can also stimulate the growth or springboard that expertise in an interest area can be leveraged for the company as a whole.
  • External/Internal expertise visibility- speaking, blogging, vlogging, tweeting, doing lunch and learns or webinars, presenting to co-workers.

Agency/Company Goals – It is important that everyone in a business or organization, including a digital marketing agency,  understand what the financial goals are of the company, how those financials are measured and evaluated, and how all employees contribute to the bottom line.  In addition to revenue or profitability goals, other goals of the company such as new clients/client retention, customer satisfaction surveys, strategic initiatives, networking, hiring, training, volunteering, social events should be discussed and shared at regularly scheduled meetings, such as quarterly. Employees should be given the chance to ask questions about any of these things and more in a low pressure setting or discuss with their manager later.

After setting meaningful and achievable goals, follow up on and review them at a regular cadence with your company, manager, or client.  How are you doing? There shouldn’t be any surprises about performance if goals are attainable (again, I’m not saying easy), measurable, and supported.

Goals should be a work in progress, and allowed to morph and evolve over the year. Goals are not necessarily about the outcome, they are about the process/journey in getting there.

“No! Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.” –YODA, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back


Lisa Sanner About the author
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