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  • Writer's pictureGeorgina

Building your 2021 marketing plan - step three: Setting goals

Updated: May 3

As we enter the final months of 2020, it is time to start planning for 2021. Over the next several weeks, I’m going to be taking you step-by-step through building a marketing plan. Feel free to check out the full list of steps we'll be taking at the bottom of this blog.

Why strategy matters

In case you're wondering why you should bother with all this preamble and strategic planning, it's because it will help make your marketing activity more meaningful. Often I find that small business owners are paralyzed by choice and a lack of direction. They don't know which social media channel to choose, or if blogging is worth their time.

I get asked questions all the time, like, "Should I be on LinkedIn?" More often than not, my response is - why do you want to be on LinkedIn? What is the purpose of your presence there? Similarly, I don't know if blogging is worth their time if they don't know what they're trying to achieve with it. Are they blogging regularly so that their readers remember them (building engagement) and as a way to build their credibility as an expert? Are they using it to improve their website SEO? Or are they hoping that blogs will convert immediately to new business? Spoiler alert: blogging is not the fastest way to convert new business.

So in essence, the point of this work is to make choosing which social media platform to use, and what sort of content to put on it, easier and faster. Once you've done the painful work of strategy planning, in future years, it should be a matter of tweaking elements of it, rather than starting from scratch. And now, without further ado...

Setting your goals

Goals are important because they give you something to aim for and therefore a direction to head in. Although the purpose of this blog series is to help you build your marketing plan, your marketing needs to support your overall business goals and help move your business forward. So, in this blog, we’ll start with your overall business goals. By that I mean, what you want to achieve in your overall business and how you’re going to get there.

Of course, business goals are a critical part of any business plan. Setting them, and revisiting them on an annual basis is a vital part of ensuring the business plan stays relevant.

Business goals – what you want to achieve

What I want to do with the business goals is to show the logical steps between business goals, business strategy, and marketing goals. In each example I am going to build on one strand, so you see how it all plays out. I'm using a fictional service business, similar to my own, for these examples.

For my 2021 business goals, I want to…

  • Increase revenue from new clients by 50%

  • Grow my business from existing clients by 30%

  • Secure additional funding for my business

  • Hire 2-3 members of staff

And that’s it, those are your goals. I’m going to caveat this by saying that these are fairly loose goals, and I would encourage you to set more specific (ideally SMART) business goals, but you get the idea.

Business strategies – how you’re going to reach your business goals

The next step is to work out how you’re going to get there, i.e. your strategy. This is for your whole business. I’m only going to work through one goal to make it clearer.

Business goal: Increase revenue from new clients

Business strategy:

I am going to increase revenue from new clients by…

  • Targeting potential clients directly

  • Using partners to refer business to me

Marketing goals - how to align marketing goals with business goals

Now, think about how marketing can help you with each of your business strategy elements. There might be more than one marketing goal for each business strategy element. You may find that some of your marketing goals are similar between business strategy elements. That’s fine – it might be that the marketing goals are essentially the same, but aimed at different audiences (e.g. new business prospects vs referral partners). So:

Business goal: Increase revenue from new clients

Business strategy: Target potential clients directly

Marketing goals:

I am going to target potential clients directly by...

  • Attracting inbound leads through raising awareness of my company among prospective clients

  • Helping close more new business through supporting sales outreach to clients

  • Setting the scene for sales outreach to clients

Marketing strategies - how to achieve your marketing goals

Business goal: Increase revenue from new clients

Business strategy: Target potential clients directly

Marketing goal: Attract inbound leads through raising awareness of my company among prospective clients

Marketing strategies:

I will attract inbound leads by:

  • Having a strong online and offline presence for potential clients who are searching for services I offer

  • Engaging with relevant networks and becoming known to their members (who are my target audience)

  • Building up an engaged community of potential clients

  • Creating useful content that potential clients can find and share among themselves

Note that I’ve not yet determined whether I’m launching a Facebook page, creating videos, or starting blogging. Those are the next level down in your planning. They’re the fun bit, but everything you do should be fulfilling one of these strategies and therefore be directly traceable back to your overall business goals. If you can’t say how your next Facebook Live is helping you achieve a business goal, it’s probably not strategic, and it’s probably not worth your time.

In conclusion, we now have our basic strategic structure. We have laid out:

  • Overall business goals

  • The business strategies that are going to get you there

  • The marketing goals that support the business strategy

  • The topline marketing strategies that are going to help reach your marketing goals


To help you navigate round this series, here is the full list of blogs.

  1. Remind yourself why – Remind yourself why you’re in this game and what you're trying to do – this is at the heart of everything

  2. Who are you talking to? – Creating your audience personas/customer avatars is part of the foundational work of any business plan, but as your customers change over time, they need to be revisited and updated regularly to make sure that they’re still relevant.

  3. Set your business goals – Marketing is pointless if it doesn’t help you move your business forward so we need to establish what you want to achieve

  4. Aligning your marketing goals and overall strategy – How to set up solid marketing goals and strategies

  5. Reviewing your context - How to look at the trends going on around you so that you don't approach marketing in a tone-deaf way

  6. Channel strategies – Now we get into the fun bit of working out which marketing channels are best for you

  7. Creating content - You now know who you're talking to and how you're going to reach them, but what are you going to say to them?

  8. Managing through measurement – How do you know it’s working if you’re not measuring? We’ll look at how to set helpful metrics that help keep you on track, without bogging you down in admin

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