Realistic communication objectives

When we’ve got missions and goals, objectives and aims, how do we go about setting achievable targets? Many businesses want to increase customers and sales, but what is realistic?

Perhaps the best target is one that is achievable, but requires effort and persistence to achieve. After all, if something’s impossible, it’ll just knock us back so that we don’t feel like trying again and if it’s too easy, we could lose interest.

How do we start to set realistic objectives?

Take our imaginary business owner, André Preneur, whose company is stagnating. There’s lots of things he wants to do: broadcast a viral video on YouTube and generate 2 million views, sell 200 copies of his DIY marketing course every week and get in the business sections of all the broadsheet newspapers. So far, he’s done nothing towards any of these, not even made his video, and he’s got 2,000 marketing courses packaged up and not one sold. What can he do?

The answer is: a lot.

But he’s unlikely to achieve his objectives without having done any preparation at all. Viral videos take a lot of planning, creativity and persistence, as do selling online and getting into national newspapers. They are all achievable, but they won’t happen without planning and effort.

Perhaps what he needs to do is set his targets on what he can achieve with the time and resources that he has available now. If he has 100 visitors to his web site each day, could he double this easily? If he gets five sales from his web site each day, could he double this? These are realistic targets that can be measured directly from web site statistics and sales data. Are they too easy? Possibly. If they can be achieved in a number of days, then they’ll prove what’s possible and can be modified.

When the first targets have been achieved, new targets can be set. Can web visitors be doubled again or trebled over a similar period? Can sales be increased by the same amount?

And what about that viral YouTube video? Is that just a dream? Anyone could achieve it if they put in the time and resources required, but we have to ask ourselves if we are prepared to do this and also what the return would be for the business. How would mass viewing of a video be exploited by the business to increase awareness or sales?

No target is too big if there is a realistic opportunity to achieve it and we are prepared to apply what’s required. On the other hand, it can be good to build confidence by achieving modest targets which can be increased if we hit them too easily.

Finding the right balance of challenge and achievement is important so that we set targets that don’t doom us to failure but encourage us to continue developing.

After our last blog, are you measuring your communication success?

z2zine tomorrow: Finding your focus

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