Last month I ran a 12K. (Here is where I could lie and say I ran a marathon for dramatic effect, but I wouldn't want to ruin what we have here, which is trust, right? Right.) So I ran a 12K. I started training back in March, 2015 for a race in May of 2015. Before that, I ran 0 miles in all of 2014. That's zero. Nada. Nil. Zilch. No miles. No running.
What are SMART Goals?
When my dad invited me to do a race with him in May, knowing I needed to switch up my routine a little anyway, I said yes. And with that, I set a goal. A smart goal, even. It was:
- Specific (Run a 12K race)
- Measurable (Obviously, I want to know how far I've run)
- Achievable (Sure, why not? "I TOTALLY got this!")
- Realistic (A challenge, certainly, but yes, I do believe I can make it with some hard work.)
- Timely (Scheduled for a specific date)
Everything that's awesome today has an acronym, right?
Back to the race...
Being a fairly fit person already, I knew that I would be able to accomplish this goal, but it would mean sticking to a training plan. I found one that was specific for a 12K, then I told myself that I would do every workout on that training plan, including the long runs and the speed drills.
And for the first few weeks I did.
But then one Saturday I did those speed intervals (they're terrible, by the way) and woke up on Sunday and my fit, athletic, former college athlete self couldn't stand up! My back hurt so badly that I had to hunch over just to get out of bed. At that point, my goal was just to make it through the day. I definitely wasn't going to be doing my scheduled 5 miles when I could barely make it to the kitchen.
How SMART Goals Can Change
My SMART goal shifted quickly over the next week or so. I wanted to be able to run the race, but I knew I wasn't going to be able to do all the workouts. I had to reassess my path towards my ultimate goals. I didn't do any more speed workouts, but I did take up some exersizes with a local chiropractor. I stretched better and I listened to my body and I rested. No, I didn't complete every workout on my training schedule, but I did finish the race! I ran farther than I've ever run in my life.
So, what is the point of this story and how does it relate to your inbound marketing SMART goals? (Besides bragging about my kick-butt running skills, obviously).
Well, when you start an inbound marketing campaign or a new digital marketing strategy, you probably have some lofty ideas about how it's going to go and what you're going to achieve. You're going to write a new blog post every single day. You're going to churn out fresh new content and leverage it on social media every week. You'll quickly watch your website shoot to the top of every search engine page for even the most difficult keywords. Everything is going to come together perfectly and you'll track all the magic in HubSpot and all will be right in the world. Right?
In a perfect world, yes. But we don't live in a perfect world, so that's not likely.
It should go without saying that a perfect campaign like that is a rare occurrence. It's okay if you slip up and go a day without posting a blog. Your first content piece (or your 5th or your 1000th) might not quite hit the mark, and you won't see an influx of leads. That's okay. That doesn't mean you have to completely change your goals or your inbound strategy.
Instead, look at the steps you're taking and how they relate to your ultimate business goals, whether that's leads, growth, revenue or whatever else it may be. If one 'training program' isn't quite working, it is never too late to switch to a new one or to take an extra rest day. Inbound marketing SMART goals are always about adjusting, reviewing, and ultimately, achieving what's best for your business in the long-run, even if you make a few wrong turns (and spend a few days with an ice pack) along the way.
This post was originally written in 2015, but was updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness in late 2017.