Don't Make New Year's Resolutions

Today is January 2nd, and that means for many people it is the first day that they have broken one or more of their New Year's resolutions. I never make New Year's resolutions. Why? They appear to be jinxed, destined for failure given the number of resolutions that are broken. I know my gym will be very crowded in January, but I take comfort in knowing the crowds will be much smaller in a few weeks as good intentions go by the wayside!

When it comes to managing the marketing function of your business, do not make New Year's resolutions. Instead, set objectives, or outcomes, you would like your organization to reach. You can set objectives within the time frame of the year, trimester, quarter, or month. What's the difference between an objective and a resolution? Three characteristics make objectives good to have:

1. Objectives are Specific - Objectives that are written with a specific outcome in mind give direction to what you want to accomplish. It is insufficient to say "I want to increase sales." Be specific and state the increase you wish to achieve- 5%, $500,000, 700,000 units, or whatever metric matters most to your business. If objectives are not specific, you have not created accountability for reaching the desired outcome.

2. Objectives are Measurable - Measurability and specificity go hand-in-hand. Write objectives in a way that it can be determined whether the objective was met. For example, do not state "I want to improve customer service." Better customer service would be a desirable outcome, but how can you measure whether it occurred? Instead, an objective might be to "reduce customer complaints by 50%," or "I will personally speak with 5 customers each week." These are measurable (and specific) outcomes that if reached could positively impact customer service.

3. Objectives are Challenging - The purpose of setting objectives is the growth that occurs as a result of pursuing them... even if you do not reach all of your objectives. Objectives must be a "stretch," providing a realistic yet formidable bar to clear. If you average 100 web site hits a month, it is probably unrealistic to set an objective to reach 2,000 hits a month. Set objectives with the aim of growing your business and having to sweat to make the growth happen!

Be sure to write your objectives. Post them in many different places so that you are reminded of what you have set out to accomplish. Remember, most people (and organizations) do not go through the process of writing down what they want to achieve, so you create an advantage simply by setting objectives that contain the three characteristics identified above.

Good luck on writing and meeting your objectives!