Forget Setting Marketing Goals. Focus on This Instead.

Posted by on Jan 30, 2015 | 2 comments

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions.  No, I’m not a humbug — I just don’t think that successful goals are built upon an arbitrary calendar date.


don't focus on marketing goals


But I do set goals. Lots of ’em. 5-year goals, yearly goals, monthly goals… which then break down into weekly and daily tasks. This goal process is based on a truly spectacular book that I gush about regularly: “The One Thing” by Gary Keller.

And so I thought I had this whole goal thing figured out… until I read an article this month by James Clear over at Entrepreneur magazine that made me realize that my focus on goals has been misplaced:

Say what???  How could there be a “this” that is more important than goals?  But there is.  There really is.  The magic “this” is…


Here’s the crux of it:

“Goals are good for planning your progress and systems are good for actually making progress.”

[James explains this all brilliantly.  Go read his post, then come back.]

OK… Now that you’re a believer, too, how do we apply this thinking to our marketing?


Step 1: Set Clear Goals

First, you do need to be clear on your marketing goals (hey, you didn’t think you could forget about goals altogether, did you?).  This post isn’t about how to set goals, so I’ll assume you’ve already done that.

Your marketing goals might include things like:

  • Get 20 good leads per month by June
  • Grow email list to 5,000 members within 6 months
  • Establish 5 good new referral partnerships this year
  • Refocus business model on a winnable niche within 3 months

Step 2: Craft Systematic Processes for Each Goal

Second, you need to identify the repeatable daily, weekly or monthly processes (systems) that will move you towards each marketing goal.

Your marketing systems might include things like:

  • Spend 2 hours per week testing and optimizing Google AdWords PPC campaigns
  • Draft one new blog post per week tailored to your ideal prospects
  • Request introductions via LinkedIn to 3 potential referral partners per month
  • Deeply research 3 competitors per week

Here’s the key…

Can you see the differences between goals and systems?  There are several:

  1. Goals have an arbitrary deadline that you guess at.  Systems have a sensible repeat interval that you set.
  2. Goals are about results that may or may not ever be attained.  Systems are about tasks that you accomplish regularly.
  3. Goals depend in part on what other people do.  Systems are completely within your control.

This is why it is so much more powerful to focus on systems rather than on goals.

With goals you are relying on other people to help you reach results that you might never reach within a time frame that you can only guess at.

With systems you have full control to accomplish achievable tasks regularly at a frequency you can sustain.

A real marketing example.

I constantly experiment with my own marketing, and I’ve been doing so for a long time. I know, based on substantial data, that I get most of my good business leads from two sources: Google AdWords campaigns and my blog.

So my primary lead generation system has two components:

  1. Spend 3+ hours per week, every week, analyzing and enhancing my Google AdWords campaigns
  2. Publish one “meaty” blog post per month, every month

I don’t always execute these systems perfectly (I do have some gaps in my blog). But I know that if I do execute them, then I’m well on my way to meeting my long-term lead generation goals.

Conversely, if I only had marketing goals, and no system in place for reaching them…  well then my goals would really just be daydreams, wouldn’t they?

Create your marketing system today.

If you’re still working on your New Year’s resolutions, shift your thinking from marketing goals to marketing systems.  You’ll not only get much better results, but you’ll be much happier, too.

And if you need help to strategize and execute the right marketing systems for your unique business, give me a shout.


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Andrew advises business owners, consultants & professionals to help them win high-value clients online.


  1. Hi Andrew,
    Great post! I’ve ordered the book. Best thing about this advice is that it’s doable and it makes you feel good to do it generating more positive energy to keep it going.

    • Thanks, Mark. And yes, it’s critical to keep the positive energy going. We are, after all, emotional creatures at heart.


  1. Episode 12 – Where to Find Your Best Prospects - […] “Forget Setting Marketing Goals. Focus on This Instead.” […]

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