According to Entrepreneur Magazine, a marketing plan is a written document that serves to outline your future marketing efforts, rally your employees around a central set of goals and provide a big picture look at your promotional strategies. Central to a marketing plan are your objectives, or what you hope to accomplish with your marketing strategy. "S.M.A.R.T." objectives is an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely.
The "S" in "S.M.A.R.T." stands for specific. This means each objective of your marketing plan should state a specific purpose. In other words, describe exactly what you hope to accomplish for each objective. To help you develop specific goals for your marketing plan, determine what you want to accomplish, why it's important, who's going to be responsible and when you want it to be completed. For example, rather than saying, "increase marketing exposure in the health care industry," you'd say, "send direct marketing campaigns to the top three hospitals in New York, with the goal of increasing revenue in the health care sector by 12 per cent within six months."
The "M" in "S.M.A.R.T." stands for measurable. The objectives in your marketing plan should also be quantifiable, which means your objectives need to include numbers. In the previous example, notice the measurable numbers "three hospitals," "six months," and "12 percent." These are quantifiable numbers you can measure against at the end of the year.
Achievable, also known as "attainable," is the next component of a S.M.A.R.T. objective. To make sure the objectives in your marketing plan are achievable, be sure you aren't setting a goal you don't think you can achieve. Look at the external market forces, trends, and past sales and marketing financial statements for your company, and decide if your goals are too lofty.
To make sure the goals in your marketing plan are realistic, ask yourself "Do I have the resources available to achieve this objective?" Examples that would make the objectives in your marketing plan unrealistic are lack of marketing budget, not enough employees in your department, or lack of market share.
The "T" in "S.M.A.R.T." refers to objectives that are timely. This means you should state when you hope to achieve each one of your objectives. In the example above, "six months" was the time frame given for the goal. When writing goals for your marketing plan, always specify the time frame or specific date for when you want to accomplish your goals.
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