Marketing Goals: How Many Is Too Many?

Any great marketing strategy involves setting goals. Many individuals believe that the more you want to accomplish, the more goals you need to set. Unfortunately, this method is not to your benefit. 

Why? 

If you focus on too many goals at once, you cannot supply each goal with the time and attention required to achieve them.   

The solution is not to become less ambitious. Instead, the answer is to focus your efforts in the most productive way possible. This approach requires framing your ideal result in a more manageable means. Two systems dominate the landscape when it comes to distilling results into goals: OKRs and SMART goals. Together, they determine how many goals you can realistically accomplish.

Objective Key Results Goal System

The Objective and Key Results (OKRs) system is a collaborative goal-setting tool used by teams to set challenging goals that can provide measurable results. These OKRs track progress, encourage engagement and create alignment within a company without becoming too spread out.

How does this work in real life? Take, for example, the city of Syracuse, New York. They made it a goal to achieve fiscal sustainability, which is an incredibly important objective for any government, as long as it is measurable. As a result, Syracuse used the OKR goal system to achieve this desire:

  • Objective: Achieve Fiscal Sustainability
    • KR1: Reduce the fund budget variance from 11% to 5%.
    • KR2: Aim to spend 95% of authorized capital project dollars by the end of the fiscal year.
    • KR3: Aim to spend 95% of grand dollars for specific grants from prior fiscal years. 

As you can see, achieving each one of these key results can be considered a goal. However, when taken all together, each of these key results contributes towards the over-arching objective. Instead of switching focus between key results with multiple objectives, all efforts ultimately contribute to the same goal.

The SMART Goal System

As long as results support the OKR, you can have multiple goals. However, success is more likely when each fits the SMART goal system. SMART goals are:

  • Specific (simple, significant, sensible goals): The goals need to be specific and clear. Otherwise, you will not be able to focus your efforts or motivate yourself to complete each of them. 
  • Measurable (motivating and meaningful goals): These goals need to be measurable, meaning that you can track their progress so that you can stay motivated and focused, while also feeling excited as you get closer to achieving your objectives. 
  • Achievable (attainable and agreed goals): These goals need to be realistic to be successful. You want to be able to stretch your capabilities, but make sure the goal remains possible. 
  • Realistic (relevant, reasonable, and resourced goals): These goals need to matter to you and align with your practices and other purposes. Consider essential questions such as is this goal worth it? Does it match the company's needs? You want to be able to make realistic plans to help you reach your final objective and drive your company forward. 
  • Time-bound (timely goals): You want your goals to have a target date so that you can focus on a deadline. This is crucial in preventing you from wasting time on everyday tasks instead of prioritizing longer-term goals. 

The objective from the OKR should be in the form of a SMART goal. The same goes for key results.

How Many Is Too Many?

OKR enables businesses to focus on multiple SMART goals at the same time. 

This is why the question “how many marketing goals is too many” has multiple answers. Two mutually exclusive goals are too many. Three goals leading in different directions may spread a department too thin to result in success.

However, four goals may be achievable if one is designated the over-arching goal, such as an OKR. When that objective and its key results are SMART, then they will all be achievable and realistic. Whether you have two goals or five, as long as they align with an over-arching goal and are SMART, they will not be out of reach.

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