The start of a new year heralds an opportune time to set goals for your business, including the outcomes you want to achieve from your marketing activities. Goals can be set for a variety of marketing purposes such as lead generation, sales, customer satisfaction, event attendance, brand awareness, industry recognition, thought leadership and sponsorship, among others.
I’m an advocate of pairing goals with objectives. Goals are generally expressed as statements of broad intent and objectives are expressed as precise, tangible and measurable results to be achieved within a specified timeframe (SMART language). Together, they are the predetermined outcomes towards which all marketing effort is directed. For example, the broad goal might be to increase revenue by selling more widgets. The corresponding SMART objective could be to double the number of widgets sold on the previous 12 months, from 50 to 100, by 30 June 2018.
Once you have decided upon your goals and objectives, you need to set key performance indicators (KPIs) for each of them. KPIs are quantifiable business metrics used to gauge or compare performance in terms of meeting strategic or operational objectives across a range of areas.
This is where an understanding of lag and lead measures is useful. Lag measures are those indicators which measure the actual goal (for example, sales, revenue, inventory numbers, customer satisfaction). Lead measures, on the other hand, measure the activities necessary to achieve the goal (for example, number of calls made, time spent on marketing activities, number of blogs published, media releases issued, business networking events attended).
Research shows that leaders tend to focus more on lag measures as KPIs because these are the measures of success and easier to determine. However, it’s vitally important to focus a significant amount of attention on lead measures as these provide the leverage for driving the results. This is because lead measures are predictive; if you change the activity associated with lead measures, you can predict that the lag measure will change accordingly. For instance, if your goal is to lose weight, your lag measures (kilograms lost, weight on the scales) will change based on the lead measures you set and track (calories in, calories burned). So, if you’re only focusing your attention on lag measures in business, you’re missing the opportunity to achieve set goals in a more predictable and resourcefully-effective way.
The table below provides an example of some lag and lead measures against set marketing goals / objectives.
(measures the goal)
(measures something that leads to the goal)
Achieve a 10% increase in widget sales on the previous financial year, by 30 June 2018.
Number of widgets sold
Cold/warm calls made
Email campaigns conducted
Achieve a target of 200 people at our forthcoming childcare centre open day on 22 February 2018.
No. of attendees
Social media engagement
Facebook campaigns conducted
Media releases issued
In the end, it is the data on lead measures that allows you to strategise and take action to move the lag measures and achieve, or even surpass, your desired goals and objectives. If you make it a practice in 2018 to set, measure and act on the right online and offline marketing activities (lead measures), you will more predictably influence the amount of leads you generate (lag measures) for your business.
©Ros Weadman 2018 Ros Weadman is the creator of the Reputation Equation™, founder of Melbourne PR & Marketing Group and author of BRANDcode®, a marketing guide for small business. Connect with Ros on LinkedIn or via www.rosweadman.com