Commentary & Analysis
Setting New Year's Resolutions That Actually Get Done
By Jeannette McMurtry January 9,
By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: January 9, 2007
By Jeannette McMurtry January 9, 2006 -- Its that time of year again when we all set wonderful goals and commit with undying certainty to achieve them. Chances are, your wonderful goals for 2007 have a strong resemblance to those you set for 2006. Believe me, I've been there myself. Every year since I can remember, I've had "Get more organized, lose 10 pounds, and learn to cook" on my list of resolutions. While I haven't figured out how to get my personal goals actually off my list for good, I have gained some understanding of how marketers can increase their chances of achieving solid and meaningful goals. When setting metrics, don't only establish what you plan to achieve at the end of the year, establish milestones along the way. Following are some of the top reasons marketing plans and New Year's goals fail. Overwhelming: Instead of throwing your full "wish list" on your 2007 to-do list, try to narrow in on your most important three or four. What are the activities that have the greatest chance of impacting your organization's overall business goals? For example, if the company's overriding goal is to increase revenue by 20 percent, maybe your marketing priorities should be to implement programs that will generate new business from existing customers -- the quickest path to new sales -- rather than creating a new graphic identity or sales kit as these activities might take a bit longer to pay off. Hard to Measure: Its hard to know when you've achieved success if you don't have solid metrics in place. Attached to every goal should be a quantifiable measurement. For example, a measurable goal is to increase sales by 10 percent; or generate new business from 70 percent of your existing customers. When setting metrics, don't only establish what you plan to achieve at the end of the year, establish milestones along the way. Where do you need to be at the end of each month, each quarter in order to accomplish your goal? Do all you can to get to know your customers and create campaigns very specific to them Lack of Accountability: It's sometimes easier to focus on your goals when you know others are paying attention. Share your goals with peers outside of your department. Let them know what you plan to accomplish, how you will measure your success, and how you need them to support you. When you do this, you create an accountability to the rest of your company which can often help you stay focused and can also help you get the support you need. Designed to Please: Too often, I have seen marketing plans or ad campaigns created to please the CEO or Board of Directors. When this is the case, you are setting yourself up to fail. Your company's leaders are most often not representative of your target customers, and thus, don't make decisions in the same manner, or are moved by the same offers. A very worthy goal of 2007 is to do all you can to get to know your customers and create campaigns very specific to them, not the person who signs your pay check. Nothing will please your CEO or Board more than to see increased results from past year's efforts. Lack of Visibility: The minute a marketing plan is filed away, is the minute its on its way to failing. Keep your goals visible so that your top priorities are always top of mind, and guide your daily, weekly and monthly activities. Consider posting an oversized marketing check list that shows everyone on your team your progress toward goal. Take turns checking off the items "done" so that everyone can enjoy the sense of accomplishment. Doing this is also a great way to show the rest of the company what marketing is doing to grow the business. Decide now to change directions, drop programs, or cancel contracts when you realize your efforts are going nowhere. Big Egos: Of course, no one reading this column suffers from the Big Ego syndrome. However, you might have a friend that could use this advise: Decide now to change directions, drop programs, or cancel contracts when you realize your efforts are going nowhere. Being too proud to admit failure is one of the biggest mistakes businesses make in all areas -- from product development, partnerships, executive hires, and marketing. Cut your losses when you need to and move on to positive, productive programs. Most importantly, decide to learn from your mistakes rather than be embarrassed. W.L. Gore, the makers of GoreTex actually celebrate failures with parties. The celebration is that someone had the courage to try something new, and that same someone had the wisdom to pull back when it wasn't working. Making New Year's Resolutions can be an exciting process. You have a whole new year ahead of you, another 365 days to try new things, embark on new ventures, and achieve great success. Make it a goal to do something new and have fun doing it.