blog overview
Goal Setting
Frans Riemersma, 01 Sep '16

5 Simple Tricks to Groom Your Marketing Goals and Strategy

Ready to achieve big goals and ambitious strategies? Break down your goals into smaller objectives. Start using 5 Goal Grooming tricks.

It's great to pursue big goals or ambitious strategies. But when it’s hard to envision the finish line, people can become less motivated to compete. Or they won’t even start at all.

Just like in agile where you groom your backlog, you can groom your marketing goals too. Goal grooming is the way to get your marketing team supremely motivated to execute strategy and to consistently perform at their best.

Goal grooming is the act of splitting and joining goals to craft your strategy as a set of goals. And it’s very powerful, when you do it right.

Break down your Big Hairy Audacious Goal

The secret to creating an executable marketing strategy is cutting goals into smaller, actionable pieces. Science says the division of a big goal into multiple smaller sub goals will increase your team’s motivation in two important ways.

Let’s take advantage of the law of diminishing returns and temporal discounting. If you do it right, you can make the two work in your favor. Allow me to explain this to you in plain English.

The law of diminishing returns states that if you make a goal twice its original ‘size’, people won’t put in double the effort. So you may never achieve your goal because it’s just too big. Just like with pursuing a Big Hairy Audacious goal.

The law of temporal discounting states that if you plan the achievement of a goal far away on the horizon people tend to pass. The reward for achieving a goal that’s far away on the horizon appears smaller. So people won’t put in the required effort. Just like with pursuing a Big Hairy Audacious goal.

Find the right goal size to motivate your team

To get your team motivated and performing at their maximum, you need to make both mechanisms work in your favour. And you can.

Have your team pursue small goals to take advantage of the law of diminishing returns. And have your team pursue goals in the near future to take advantage of the law of temporal discounting. 

Take advantage of diminishing returns - make pursued goals small

Take advantage of temporal discounting - make goal achievement near

Goal grooming – killing two birds with one stone

With goal grooming it’s easy to kill two birds with the same stone.

Small goals require less effort to achieve, so you can schedule their achievement sooner. Focus making goals smaller, and you’ll ‘automatically’ achieve them sooner. Buy one, get one free.

In our workshops we often hear two questions popping up.

1. “How can I tell if my strategy is ready to be executed?”

Let’s be clear, a strategy is never finished, but it can be ready for execution. Those are two different things. The sooner you can execute, the quicker you’ll have your results ready and the quicker you’ll get promoted ;-)

2. "Is there a way to know if goals are groomed enough?"

Yes, there is now. Use the 5 Goal Grooming tricks and you’ll know.

We’ll teach you how to set the perfect goals and give you guidelines to see if your strategy is ready to execute. When you’re done with it, your strategy will be more actionable than ever. Let’s take the smart route to the finish line.

Split and join goals to craft the perfect strategy

A perfect strategy is one that has a similar level of detail across the board. You need all goals to be (roughly) the same size and small enough to be able to execute the strategy.

I can hear you think, “But what are the characteristics of a finished strategy? How much detail is enough detail? Is there a checklist, or some sort of a Definition of Done for marketing execution strategies?”

Well, yes, we’ve found one. The trick is to follow certain rules for splitting and joining goals.

Two tricks to split goals

Goals are well defined when they are unambiguous to everyone, and actionable. Splitting goals helps you to make goals actionable. Just stick to two simple goal-splitting rules of thumb.

Trick #1:
Have one KPI per goal

If you have two KPIs for one activity, split the goal. You should have only one KPI per goal. As an example:

Before splitting (1 goal)

  • As an event manager I want to run an event So I can attract 200 attendees and create 20 sales appointments

After splitting (2 goals)

  • As an event manager I want to run an event So I can attract 200 attendees
  • As an event manager I want to run an event So I can create 20 sales appointments

Trick #2:
Have one output per KPI

If you have one KPI but two different outputs, split the goal. You should have only 1 output per KPI. The output of one KPI can yield two results (output). For instance, if your KPI is set to attract 200 event attendees, but you really need 150 clients and 50 colleagues, then split the goal.

Before splitting (1 goal)

  • As an event manager I want to run an event So I can attract 200 attendees.

After splitting (2 goals)

  • As an event manager I want to run an event So I can attract 150 visitors (clients).
  • As an event manager I want to run an event So I can attract 50 visitors (company colleagues).

 

Three tricks to join goals

Joining goals helps you to keep strategy small and manageable. Too many goals overwhelm your team. You have to keep an overview, or soon you’ll be unable to see the forest for the trees. Just stick to three simple goal-joining rules of thumb.

Trick #3:
Use aggregate goals

If you would spell out every goal for online marketing, you will easily end up with 100 goals. But ask yourself: should all these goals be part of the overall strategy, or should they only be part of your own, more detailed strategy? Like a Social Media strategy, in this case.

Sometimes goals are just too detailed to include in an overall Marketing Strategy or Plan.

To keep an equal level of detail in your strategy, it makes sense to aggregate some of these goals.

Before aggregating

  • As an event manager I want to run an online campaign So I can attract 5k Twitter followers
  • As an event manager I want to run an online campaign So I can attract 5k Facebook followers
  • As an event manager I want to run an online campaign So I can attract 5k Instagram followers

After aggregating

  • As an event manager I want to run an online campaign So I can expand social reach’ by 15k followers

Trick #4:
Limit the number of goals

Make sure your team can see the bigger picture, but don’t make it overwhelmingly big. To find the right size for your strategy, stick to this rule of thumb per team member.

  • 15 goals spanning the next year…
  • … of which 10 goals spanning the next quarter…
  • … of which 5 goals spanning the next month.

People cannot oversee more than five goals per month. Working on too many goals is useless. Is kills your focus, and your motivation as well when (inevitably) you fail to deliver all at once.

In general, planning goals and activities beyond three months proofs pretty worthless. The many variables in business life will make any predictions about projects lying far ahead highly unlikely to actually come true.

Planning beyond three months also rules out the opportunity of feeding back learnings into your next campaign. So much for a learning curve.

Trick #5:
Create placeholders

Some goals you want to keep on your radar to show the bigger picture, but they lie too far ahead in the future. If you’re not ready to actively pursue a goal right now, there’s no need to become specific about it.

All you need to do is reserve some space in your agenda, either for individual goals or aggregate goals. Experiment with what works in the present, and use the wisdom gained to gradually become more specific about future goals as time passes. Nail it, then scale it.

Create a goal with just a title, as a kind of placeholder. Your colleagues will know it is something you’ll pick up later.

5 goal grooming tricks, 1 flawless strategy execution

You now know how to groom goals to get your team supremely motivated and performing at their maximum. Follow two goal-splitting rules and three goal-joining rules to create a compact and actionable strategy.

You can now be certain your strategy is set up correctly and ready for flawless execution.