Do you want to “build your business” or “secure 5 new contracts in your geo-zip area for $5,000 or more for their first orders?” Depending on which one of these represents the type of goal you set will determine the kind of results you achieve. So often people set themselves up for dismal results because their goals are not specific enough or they are not realistic. Preparing a marketing goal is no exception. To help you focus, here are 5 questions to help you prepare effective marketing goals.

1.  What is your specific goal?

Your goal should be targeted and focused — and ideally be narrowly focused. Quantify what you want and by what date. Goals like “increase image” or “find new customers” are too vague and won’t drive anything special or effective in your marketplace like “secure five new clients in the technology space.”

2.  What are your parameters?

The better able you are to describe your goal in terms of deadline, budget, and expected outcomes, the better the results you will achieve. For example, a precise target like “prospect to 50 technology companies with several divisions allows you to present to at least 20 to secure five new customers is the kind of detail that produces the best results. Although you may not achieve the exact results you specify, you will be a lot closer to achieving your goal than if you had planned to call on many different types of companies with many different needs.

3.  How will achieving this goal impact my company?

At times we set goals that help our circle of influence but are not in the overall interests of our company. This can be especially true among larger companies with divisions and departments that do not use integration techniques to guide their strategic marketing. Determining why you would like to reach a goal and then determining if it is also beneficial to your company as a whole will determine if it is worth pursuing. Ask yourself if the type of customer you are targeting is the type your company is used to managing and providing services to.

4.  What will change by reaching my goal?

Sometimes reaching a goal causes undo stress to the organization if it has not been fully thought through. Perhaps you are particularly experienced in a market sector but your company is not. New business from this area might benefit you but put pressure on your company’s resources. Talking though these dimensions with your company management will prevent unnecessary conflict with them.

5.  What will it take to reach my goal?

New planners often write overreaching goals that are not realistic. Although these types of goals would be fantastic to achieve they often lead to frustration. You need to be realistic and give credit to your competition. If you occupy the number three or four slot in a given market stating that you would like your company to assume the number one position is probably not a realistic expectation as the first step. Instead, plan out how to raise your position one level at a time through steady sales and marketing working hand in hand. As the old story goes, the tortoise usually wins the race.

Devoting time to each of these five questions should help you evaluate your goal from all sides. By spending time on this exercise with your goals, you will be better prepared to navigate around or over any obstacles that arise along the way.