Imagine, for a moment, a not-too-distant future where your marketing processes are humming along in almost perfect harmony; your content is resonating with users, your sales team is reaping the reward of a hearty pipeline (driven by your blood, sweat, and tears, of course), and your efforts are seeing record returns. Your team has eliminated all of those pesky, time-consuming tasks by relinquishing control to the “machines” who silently analyze every detail about your users, helping to automate and optimize your strategy in real time. Put plainly, you know how to turn big marketing goals into easy steps
Now, let’s take a step back. How did you achieve this elusive state of efficiency? You did it by looking at the right data, setting strategic goals, and breaking those goals down into manageable tasks. Here’s how to get started.
Frame Up Your Goal
The data you collect to frame up your goals is probably the most important data we’ll talk about today, mainly because it establishes a data-driven approach to defining company goals. Let’s start by asking some broad questions to help frame our overarching goal (in this case, to automate marketing processes):
- What is our company’s one metric that matters (OMTM)?
- What departmental metrics will affect the company’s OMTM?
- What is the current state/performance of those metrics? How much of an affect does my team have on those metrics today?
- What is my target for the future? What is the timeline for that target?
- What is the benefit/value of this initiative to my department? To the company?
From the answers to these questions, we’ll get information that will help to guide our strategy and keep it aligned with important company goals. Furthermore, by performing this “gut-check” assessment early on, we’ll have a nice framework for evaluating other initiatives and defining where they fit in our priorities. Try and drive out both quantitative and qualitative features in your evaluation; doing so will give you a less biased picture of what we can actually achieve once we start tackling how to turn big marketing goals into easy steps.
Next, we’ll ask more specific questions regarding this epic (that’s agile jargon for “a really big idea”) so that we can define an initiative that is specific, measurable, and time-bound.
- What does a typical day look like for my team members?
- What routine tasks are good candidates for automation?
- How many of our daily operations could be automated? What percentage of our total day does this represent?
- How much does each hour of work for a given team member cost the company? What is the savings by automating that hour?
- What tools/infrastructure would we need to automate all of those operational tasks?
- What other teams might I depend on in order to help achieve this goal?
By framing our initiative in this way, we’ve ensured that our evidence-based team goals align with business goals, helpful when it comes to get executive buy-in and budget.
Begin with an End in Mind
We’ve framed our team goals against company goals, so now we can start visualizing what success looks like in our scenario (remember, in this case, it’s automating marketing processes). Before we do, we’ll sum up the overarching goal into a more specific statement. Here’s an example from our scenario:
“As a marketing department, we want to automate 40% of our daily work in 1 year so that we can reinvest those hours into a new automated social media strategy, new performance testing, etc…“
From this statement, I then outline what achieving our goal would allow us to do at the team level:
- Invest more time into exploring new trends and avenues for marketing our product. (i.e., live video, influencer marketing, etc…)
- More focus on creating original content that supports our brand recognition and helps us sell more product.
- Less mitigation around missed deadlines and team burnout, and less of a need to bring on new staff.
The point here is to paint the picture of the overall benefits of of your goal, while explaining why it matters to me, my team, and the company. When possible, quantify the impact of any feature this initiative may have. By beginning with an end in mind, you’ll maintain a more strategic approach to your goals, which makes your initiative an easier sell and ensures that you examine new tasks through clearer, more focused eyes.
At this point, you have almost all of the information you need to make the case for marketing automation. You’re also well on your way to mastering how to turn big marketing goals into easy steps.
Break Down Your Goal into Manageable Chunks
Now we need to take this very large goal (to automate 40% of our daily work in 1 year) and break it down into manageable chunks. You can break down this initiative in a couple of ways: work multiple steps at once (breadth approach), or work through the steps in a specific order (sequential approach). Which approach you take depends on your team’s working style. Let’s say that manually sending out emails is a huge time-commitment for our team. I would first define the goal:
“I want to automate email marketing and reduce manual coding and scheduling time by 75%.”
Below might be some example steps to achieve our goal:
- Looking at the performance of our current email campaigns.
- Research and select email automation software.
- Migrate email templates and users into new tool.
- Implement automated email drip.
- Generate new email templates based on text analysis and inquiry rates.
From these smaller items, we can now start defining monthly and even weekly goals that roll up into these tasks (I will have narrowed down my top 3 email automation software by Tuesday, January 31). By using a similar approach to our initiative as a whole, we break down supporting tasks into smaller and smaller items until they fit into a much narrower time-frame.
Additionally, you can (and should) identify success benchmarks at specific intervals to maintain a consistent cadence for progress. This could be something as simple as a daily standup with your team to promote transparency and share local successes.
Now you know how to turn big marketing goals into easy steps! But remember, make sure that your process, whatever flavor, is able to adapt to change. You’ll inevitably pivot strategies or shift plans due to changes in your business, and your plan should be able to evolve accordingly. Base your goals on a sturdy foundation, have an end in mind, and be able to make a large goal actionable. Before you know it, that future state won’t seem so distant.