How to Set a SMART Goal for Marketing

Leighton Engage
Car inside a building

To properly frame the importance of a SMART goal, I’d like to start at the beginning. When establishing a business, you decide what you will do, who you will do it for, and for how much it will be sold. You establish goals for revenue and profit, and you continuously work to improve your results month-after-month, and year-after-year.

Now, from a marketing perspective, the objective is quite similar. You determine the overall objective, decide who you should approach, and how to best approach them in method and message. In both cases, you begin with a goal. If you do it right, your goal will be so palpable, you can taste it. The quality of this goal will ultimately determine whether you celebrate a victory, or suffer a defeat.


Cars in a buildingNow, as you may have guessed, not all goals are created equal. Your goal needs to provide enough motivation for your entire team to push past their limits, reach new heights, and accomplish more than they ever thought was possible. There’s only one way to do that, your goal must be SMART—specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. Let’s take a closer look using the auto industry as a reference.


“Bring in more business”, your manager says. Okay, but how will you know when you have done it? What does “more business” really mean? More leads? More revenue? More profit? More transactions? More sales calls? We cannot really be sure without having a more specific objective.

What if, instead of “Bring in more business” he says, “We need to sell more cars.” Now our goal is specific. We can begin to devise a strategy that will enable us to meet this objective.

Ask yourself:

  • What do I want to accomplish?
  • Whose help do I need?
  • Why does this matter?


We know that we are trying to increase car sales, but how should we begin? Should we produce a TV commercial? Host a special event? Run some PPC ads? Send out email blasts? Advertise on social media? Start cold calling? It really depends on how many cars we need to sell.

To create an effective strategy, our goal must be measurable. Let’s say that we need each of the five salespeople to sell at least three cars each month.

Ask yourself:

  • What are the parameters?
  • By how much?


Our top salesperson has been here for a while. He knows what he’s doing. A few years ago, he sold 10 cars in a month by himself. We had a lot more traffic at that time than we do now.

In the past six months, our five salespeople combined have only sold 47 cars. That’s an average of one - two cars per month. We can do better than that. We need to do better than that.

So, let’s think about this. If each of the five salespeople has been selling one or two cars per month on average, the goal of selling three cars per month would be a significant increase, but it’s not so much of an increase that it would be impossible. With the right marketing strategy, this goal is attainable.

Ask yourself:

  • How can I make this happen?
  • What are my (known) restrictions? 


You may have deduced that we are talking about a car dealership. Well, you would be right. And the goals mentioned above make sense when in context to this particular industry. That demonstrates relevancy.

This step is important because not only does your SMART goal have to make sense to you, it has to mesh and flow with the rest of your organization. You'll need support and assistance in achieving your goal. Confirm yourself if it makes sense. And, confirm with the rest of the team, too. 

Ask yourself:

  • Am I the right person for this?
  • Is this worthwhile?


Like every industry, car sales have busy seasons and slow seasons. A strategy that will enable our sales team to reach their goals, and the tactics we employ, will hinge on the seasonality of car sales as it relates to the timing of our campaign.

Ask yourself:

  • By when?
  • What are the micro-steps to take?

Chances are, you are not trying to sell three more cars per salesperson per month. Your needs are much more complex. That is good. While we have used a simple story to illustrate the importance of crafting goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely, we understand and have successfully applied these principles to businesses like yours.

Let’s talk.


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