Strategic Marketing Plan Element #4: S.M.A.R.T. Objectives

Remember when people asked what you wanted to be when you grew up? Those answers were simple. Asking your company what it wants to be when it matures, 10 or 20 years down the road, is not quite as easy. I’m willing to bet, however, that given a little quality time together with a keyboard, the objectives of your company would become quite clear.

Surprising as it may seem, many businessmen have maintained their dreams only in their heads, never setting down the plan in black and white. If that’s you, the time is now.

What we really want to do here in this first step of my strategic marketing plan is identify the primary objective of your company, breathing life into your plan to make it “SMART.”

It is important that your primary objective follow the S.M.A.R.T. criteria to give it clear parameters. S.M.A.R.T. stands for

  1. Specific: Your objectives must be clearly stated, identifying a precise outcome.
  2. Measurable: Your objectives must be quantifiable, indicating and acknowledging progress.
  3. Assignable/Actionable: Your objectives must be assignable to someone who can accomplish the required tasks.
  4. Realistic/Relevant: Your objectives must be realistically achievable.
  5. Time-related: Your objectives must have a timeline.

Wikipedia has a pretty good file on the S.M.A.R.T. philosophy, as does Peter Drucker in his 1954 tome The Practice of Management. While much has changed since that first publication, the wisdom remains appropriate for much of today’s management practices. With that in mind, Bex and Caleb put their heads together to state the Big Wood Ski™ primary objective. Here’s a look:

Is it specific? Yes, Big Wood Ski wants to be #1 in their field. Is it measurable? Yes, the numbers for their market share and revenue will provide a ruler to measure progress. Is it assignable? Yes, Big Wood Ski, in its entirety, will be dedicated to the tasks, with this plan as a guide to help decide when, where, and why to add staff, ramp up production, or increase ad spend. Is it realistic? We’re thinking yes, but again, as we progress through the plan, this could require some tweaking. Is it time-related? Indeed, Big Wood Ski will be looking at an aggressive, three-year timeline. Can that be adjusted? Of course, but if you do that, keep it challenging. Most companies find that a three-year horizon for strategic planning provides both challenge and reality in good balance, while allowing ample time to measure up to the tasks.

Time frames will depend on your competition. How far ahead or behind are they? If you’re already #1 in your field, you’ll obviously want to maintain that position and may not have to work as hard to stay there. If you’re working your way up, you’ll need to hinge your timeline and goals to the top dogs. Give yourself a true challenge within realistic boundaries.

Companies rarely just have a single objective. Consider additional goals, targets, or developments you would like to incorporate into your company’s plan. What else would you like it to do apart from achieving the primary objective? Not sure? This is a great time to do some research on your competition, or on companies you admire. You may not find it spelled out in black and white on their website, but information in interviews, feature articles, or annual reports can lend insight. Consulting others in important positions within your circle at the company can offer important suggestions.

After you’ve put this information down, let it settle for a day or two, then go back to it and review. Still sound right? Great. On to the next step: Personas.