This post began as a bit of a rant after I talked to a colleague at an event about businesses floundering without direction and wondered how I could really get people’s attention and remind them strongly that they needed a map to steer their business!
We live in a world which at times seems to be drowning in acronyms (an abbreviation formed by initial letters of other words): RADAR: RAdio Detection and Ranging; SMS: Short Message Service; IFA: Independent Financial Adviser…etc etc – I’m sure you can think of loads more – there are even acronmyn dictionaries with over 40,000 entries! In fact ‘BLOG’ is one – coming from the term weB LOG.
There are even backronyms which take words and turn them into a phrase or saying! One of my favourites is KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid!
Some of this is definitely perpetuated by texting and the instant messaging which so many of us use now to communicate quickly and easily with others – but the problem with this is that unless your recipient understands the language, then the message is lost btw!
One such term which is particularly pertinent in business and marketing is SMART.
Most people will have heard of the phrase ‘SMART objectives’. Of course we all nod vigorously and some of us have every intention of making our objectives work along these principles, but how many of us actually follow through and pay this much more than lip service?
So how should it work in practice? Well let me explain again what SMART means:
S – SPECIFIC
M – MEASURABLE
A – ACHIEVABLE
R – REALISTIC
T – TIMEBOUND
Basically this means that instead of saying “I’m going to sell more to my existing customers” – this could translate into:
“I am going to sell conditioner to every customer who buys a shampoo during the month of March by having a special offer on a combined pack”
It makes much more sense, is clearer – we know exactly what we will do, and when – and of course the all important final step – we can track our progress and measure whether we have been successful.
I attended an event this week in Glasgow and was very fortunate to hear a keynote speech by Liz Jackson MBE, founder of Great Guns Marketing. Some of you will know Liz from the Secret Millionaire, others will have heard of her considerable success in business. Liz’s business is tele-marketing and she has such a passion for business, and a real infectious excitement for her job. Her company makes outbound calls on behalf of other organisations to achieve things like appointment bookings and sales to their target businesses customers.
One thing which Liz said in particular really struck home with me. She talked about SMART objectives and how she really doesn’t believe in them. Her team are encouraged to reach for huge and stretching goals, which sees her company grow rapidly – her company recorded growth of 45% in this last year of the credit crunch.
And that also seems to make lots of sense to me – if we are stifled and set ourselves achievable goals, then we are very likely to achieve them, but how do we challenge ourselves and really grow our businesses? Its a facet of human nature that we really don’t like to fail – so of course we set ourselves goals which we are more likely to achieve than not.
So here is my take on the matter:
As business owners, we need to have goals and ‘dreams’ for ourselves and our companies which inspire us to go that extra mile for something which we really really want, AND
We should translate those goals into business objectives which we can build a marketing plan around to ensure we reach these goals – and exceed them!
I think the message from all of this is that above anything else (going back to my sailing ships going round the world’s oceans in circles) is to have documented business goals and dreams, underpin these with strong determined objectives, and have a marketing and communications plan which gets you to where you want to go – with built in measurement and control of your activities. Remember business should be enjoyable too – and how can you have fun when your head is full of stress about whether you are doing the right things, juggling lots of tasks without knowing why and never feeling like you’ve got anything done!
So I’m off to create my treasure map which will take me and my fairytale 16th century great ship with crows nest and big white sails to the most stunning island surrounded by blue and green seas, where I will lounge on the beach surrounded by parrots and birds in the palm trees, sipping cocktails brought to me by Captain Jack Sparrow!! Well business success has to bring its rewards surely??
Enjoy the process, be inspired but above all: PLAN – don’t leave your business success (or lack of it) down to chance, luck or someone else’s whim!