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Best Practices For Crafting Inbound Marketing Stretch Goals

Is goal setting a part of your teams culture? In the late 1980's GE, the second most valuable company at the time, often cited it's ability to set goals.

GE rolled out goal setting company-wide by the 1940's which has evolved into the model used around the world. 

When done right, consistent goal setting can change the operations of a team or business.

Goal setting starts with a SMART framework.

Here's a quick example:

  • Specific:  "I will make dinner 4 nights this week"
  • Measurable: Did you make diner four nights the week?
  • Achievable: Last week you made dinner 2 times.
  • Realistic: You don't have any work dinner this week to keep you out of the kitchen.
  • Timeline: Each month you've increased the average nights you eat at home.

At GE, goal setting is baked right into every employees daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual workflows.

Team members submit their goals to their managers each month in the form of a letter describing what the goals are, what the expected outcome is and how they plan to get there.

They also have to detail any standards that need to be taking into consideration along the way. 

But it doesn't end with the SMART framework.

There is still one piece missing.


When GE executives started to see performance results falling at two of their plants in the late 1980's, they figured it was due to a hiccup in the SMART goal setting system. 

To their surprise they were wrong. 

Every employee at each of the plants was completing their SMART goals every month, quarter and year. 

They were detailed and fit all the SMART criteria. 

But didn't have any context.

No one even thought about whether or not each goal was actually worth pursuing. There was no connection to any long-term objectives, only to the satisfaction one got from checking things off their to-do list. 

This lead to team members creating SMART goals specifically around getting things done to fulfill their craving to check something off - goals lost ambition and any challenging elements. 

Resulting in lower performance. 

To even out the weight you have to give your goals context. You have to set stretch goals.


Inbound Marketing Stretch Goals

What is the goal, of stretch goals? 

SMART goals without context can't be quantified because they don't align with overall goals. In other words, they're irrelevant. 

By setting stretch goals you provide a framework for SMART goals to operate inside of. 


Think Big 

Stretch goals are supposed to be audacious. Meaning, you're not supposed to know exactly how you are going to achieve them. 

Don't limit your thinking. The idea is to relieve any constraints that normal operations would carry. 

You don't want to consistently focus only on achievable results in the form of SMART goals because you're setting yourself up with limitations.

Focusing only on achievable results prevents you from thinking beyond achievable goals.


Work Backwards

Start by setting your stretch targets for the year. Then work backwards to develop your quarterly and monthly plan.

Remember, if you have a viable plan for hitting your stretch goal, then you don't have a stretch goal. One of the only criteria of a stretch goal is that you don't know how you are going to hit it.  

Your quarterly plans should be developed on getting as close as possible to the goal with current resources, workflows, people and so on. The stretch goal will drive the rest of the innovation. 

For example, a software-as-a-service company currently is getting a fresh flow of about 4500 unique monthly visitors each month. And that number is incrementally growing each month. 

A target of 54k unique website visitors for the year would be a conservative target, one they could plan for, but not really a SMART goal. Smart goals should include an increase to show that you are improving a metric and moving the needle forward.

A challenge to increase unique website visitors for the year 10-20% to about 60k would be better. 

Their stretch goal might be to increase annual unique website visitors 200% to 108k. 

The team now knows that their current workflows aren't going to cut it and if they want to hit their stretch goal they are going to have to get creative and optimize where they can. 


Final Thoughts

The whole act of setting your monthly inbound marketing goals with or from dreams may seem a little silly but don't be so quick to dismiss this concept. 

As proven by GE, and countless other examples, setting stretch goals is a recipe for growth. 

Stretch goals are audacious, they provide a place where everyone's voice is heard. They also provide context, align individual action, spark collaboration and nurture creativity. 

Remember to think big when brainstorming stretch goals and to work backwards to determine the path you would currently take the the result you would get. 

This gap will start to give you the context you need to make the right improvements and adjustments to get closer to your stretch goal than you ever thought possible. 


smart goals equals smart markters