Last month I explained how your marketing strategy should be built on the foundation of an in-depth understanding of:

    • What you do
    • Who you do it for
    • Why someone should choose to work with you

    You can read that article by clicking here.

    Next, I want to consider the development of marketing goals, without which you can’t realistically expect to build a strategy.

    Why? Well, there's three reasons. Firstly, if you don’t know where you want to get to, it’s impossible to develop a strategy to get there.

    Secondly, the goals, and more specifically their ambition, will dictate both the strategy, but also the resources (both in terms of budget, time and staff) you need to allocate.

    And finally, having clear and measurable goals will help you understand the effectiveness of your strategy and the return on investment (ROI).

    It’s certainly not new, but I’m a firm believer in marketing goals being 'SMART': specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound.

    In my experience this is where advisers and planners diverge, splitting into two distinct groups.

    The 'SMARTies'

    This group invests time to set SMART goals for both their business and marketing.

    Let’s take a simple example; a goal of increasing assets under management by £10m each year. That’s certainly a specific, measurable and time-bound target. It’s also one for which a strategy can be developed, once we understand some basic further information:

    • Average AUM per new target client, which allows us to calculate the total number of new clients needed over the next 12 months
    • Conversion rate of prospective enquiries into new clients, which means we can understand the number of new enquiries needed

    Now we understand the total number of new enquiries needed in a given period, we can build a baseline (that is, where are we now) and develop a strategy to take enquiry levels to where they need to be. Providing management information is collected, analysing the effectiveness of that strategy is simple too.

    As an aside, too few advisers and planners collect this basic information required to build a strategy and analyse its effectiveness. Many I speak to have little knowledge of the number of enquiries they receive, the source or conversion rates. If you’re not collecting it, then we recommend starting immediately and perhaps even looking back to pull together data for the previous few months.

    Other examples of specific goals might include increasing website traffic, newsletter sign-ups or social media engagement. These certainly tick many of the SMART boxes, however they are probably staging posts along the way to a destination and unless they result in engagement, won’t help you to grow your business in themselves.

    To put it another way, as any golfers will confirm: you drive for show and putt for dough.

    The dreamers

    This group (for several potential reasons) doesn’t yet have SMART marketing goals, instead preferring broad objectives, ambitions or aspirations. By their very nature these are generally unspecific, nebulous, and almost impossible to measure.

    Examples might include:

    “We want to get out there.”

    “We need to build a brand.”

    “We want to raise our profile.”

    “We want more people to know about us.”

    These are all phrases guaranteed to raise my blood pressure to dangerous levels!

    They aren’t specific, measurable or time-bound; it’s therefore impossible to understand when success has been achieved. In my experience this generally leads to the business owner becoming disenchanted with marketing and the lack of provable returns, leading to frustration and often the emotionally-driven decision to slash budgets and resources.

    The benefit of being SMART

    Brand and profile are important, but in themselves these aren’t goals. The frustration often seen by the Dreamers could, of course, be avoided using SMART goals, where ROI can be demonstrated and, if necessary, strategies and plans amended.

    The process starts with business planning. Once you understand the targets and goals you have for your business you can then start to develop a marketing strategy to achieve them. You will feel less frustrated and more in control, while budgets and resources will be allocated more effectively.

    It’ll also be better for your blood pressure, as well as our's. 

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