Be SMART: Targeting Your Goals
By Taylor Smithfield
If anyone would be effective at identifying targets, it should be those within the firearms industry. You’re intimately familiar with the practice of choosing the most accurate tools to engage your target based on an executable plan. However, when it comes to marketing, many of us jump into action completely blindfolded — lacking clear strategy and firing in all directions. And while sometimes this can lead to our survival, it’s inefficient and often costs us more than it gains. With another year wrapping up for business, it’s an excellent time to take a good, long look at your company’s marketing strategies and goals so you’re primed for a successful 2019.”
Opportunities Versus Ideas
A major trap many companies fall into is thinking because they have an interesting idea, they can form a successful strategy based on it. More often than not, however, our ideas alone aren’t the same thing as true marketing opportunities. For example, you can plan to allocate a large portion of the budget to attracting younger shooters, but if you conduct business in an area with a large population of seniors and very few youths, those efforts may largely be in vain. However, if you have a pulse on an available audience you’ll be far more likely to hit the target. As you can see, it’s essential to understand the difference between an idea and an opportunity because the two are not interchangeable.
We find opportunities when we are diligent to gather and review data related to our business — whether this is analytics, key metrics, studies, surveys or listening to reviews and social media comments. (A fantastic resource is the NSSF’s 2018 Industry Reference Guide, which provides specific insights into the firearms industry). As we become intentional about identifying and understanding data, we will discover opportunities available to us that will impact our customer engagement and loyalty, and ultimately our sales.
For example, a study conducted by The George Washington University School of Business revealed women make 80 percent of all travel decisions. This tells us businesses marketing to travelers should tailor their advertising and shopping experiences for women. You might find it’s more profitable to target women for camping gear sales, because chances are they’ll be the primary planners and packers. Keeping abreast of trends in the market, you’re bound to find an opportunity that presents itself.
In 1997, Apple’s co-founder Steve Jobs saw an opportunity to crush his competition. At the time most computer manufacturers transported products by sea, a far cheaper option than air. To ensure Apple’s new, translucent blue iMacs would reach their recipients at Christmas the following year, Jobs spent $50 million on all available holiday air freight space. His foresight crippled rivals like Compaq who were unable to book air transport for their products bound for holiday shoppers. Jobs delighted customers with an unbelievably fast shipping time because he saw an opportunity and seized it.
Now that we’ve established the effectiveness of relevant opportunities, let’s discuss how we can turn these strategies into realistic business goals. ”
Setting SMART Goals
When it comes to setting goals for your business, you might already have a list of objectives in mind. Whether they’re written down or in your head, it’s important to set attainable goals. Of course, to simply set a goal can be daunting. How will the goal be carried out? When will we consider it complete?
“Get more business,” is a typical reply from small business owners when asked about future plans. And while this particular goal is certainly obtainable, it’s also very vague. It’s imperative to set intelligent goals for your business — ones that will make you incrementally successful and incredibly empowered.
That’s why it’s crucial you learn to set smart goals — or rather SMART goals, which stands for: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-based. SMART goal setting, a tool you may already be familiar with, is a framework for creating and achieving business initiatives. It’s beautifully simple but incredibly powerful.
Great business goals are well defined and focused: “Start a monthly training class for women to teach self-defense and gun safety in the Lexington, Ky., area with a monthly attendance goal of 20 women each class,” is far more tangible for your team to grasp than “Get more business!”
Specific goals clearly state what is to be achieved, by whom and where and when it is to be achieved. The better defined, the more the goal becomes a magnet — pulling you and your resources toward it.
Measurable goals answer the questions: how much, how often and how many? Goals should always be quantifiable so you can easily track their progress. A goal without a measurable outcome is like a sporting event without a scoreboard; it’s senseless. Also, when concrete numbers are attached to goals, you’ll know whether it’s on track or not — otherwise the goal’s measurability will always be open to interpretation. Not only will specific numbers reveal achievement, but they’ll act as markers along the way to success.
If the goal is to increase website traffic, you might state, “We’ll increase traffic to our website by 60 percent by the end of 2019. Throughout the year, we’ll exponentially increase traffic to our website every month in increments of 5 percent until we reach our goal.”
This is where things become more pragmatic. Far too often, small businesses fall into the trap of impractical goal setting, which can lead to disappointment, disillusionment and burnout. To avoid this end, create an explicit list of exactly how goals will be realized — you can always expand upon each point further.
If you desire to increase your social media presence, a statement that speaks to the goal’s attainability might be: “We will regularly post photos and videos of new products and in-store events, interact with commenters, post educational content and reviews, promote our training courses and post about our brand values and mission.”
Relevant business goals are based on the current conditions and realities of your operation and the business climate. They must make sense for the audience, market and specific business. Keep in mind: It can be tempting to set an exciting goal only to find out later it has no long-term importance to your store’s overall mission.
Let’s use the earlier example of an expanded social media presence. Your statement for relevancy could be: “A strong social presence will increase brand awareness and loyalty, highlight brand culture, attract new customers, build relationships, demonstrate expertise, strengthen trust, and provide support and education.”
Very simply, time-based refers to the date and time you expect to achieve the goal. This means setting deadlines to instill a sense of urgency, so you can properly prioritize.
A time-based statement for increasing your social presence could be: “We’ll immediately begin posting weekly to Instagram and LinkedIn — and will achieve our goal within eight months.”
Be Determined, But Flexible
You’ll notice each phrase is very matter-of-fact, as if the goal will certainly be attained — that it’s only a matter of time before success is achieved. By using positive language, you’ll not only associate positivity with goals, you’ll become more confident about achieving them. Posting these goals somewhere visible for your team to see daily can be a helpful reminder for them to stay focused on the targeted results.
Once you’ve created SMART business goals, it’s helpful to break down each goal into a specific set of tasks and activities. While we partially did this under the “Attainable” section, the more specific you are the better. It’s also important to periodically review the goals and make adjustments if necessary. It’s essential you not only be determined but flexible!