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Do you have the wrong marketing goals?

Marketing Goals

I want to talk about marketing goals and the importance the right types of goals play in succesful projects.

Don’t worry this won’t be turning into a marketing lecture that uses a lot of fancy acronyms to help you remember things you’ll never use in the real world.


Firstly, let’s focus on the critical part our own psychology plays and the impact it has on the success or failure of your marketing projects. This really boils down to matching expectations with reality.

The truth is we use labels like marketing goals, targets and objectives as a way of simply measuring progress towards our own expectations. We need to remember it’s more often expectations and not the outcomes themselves that ultimately determine how we measure the success of a marketing project.

Expectations become increasingly important the longer the duration of the project.


Because enthusiasm for any project has a shelf life. If you pursue the wrong goals at this critical stage your ability to sustain any activity for a prolonged period is at risk.

Success (other than on Instagram feeds) rarely comes quickly. It most often requires a great deal of repetition. You need to show up, time and time again, and often perform the same task without immediate reward. Having the wrong goals means there simply won’t be enough positive feedback to keep up the momentum.

So how does this translate into reality?

If your results don’t match your expectation then you’ll start to reduce the effort you are putting into the project which then acts as a negative feedback loop. Each cycle bringing worse results until eventually the energy is spent and you stop the project and chalk it up as a failure.

You can see this time and time again when we take on any new habit like healthy eating or taking exercise.

Its invariably the expectations we set ourselves at the start that determines our long term commitment. If you expect to get a six-pack after a few weeks at the gym, then the results will likely disappoint you and potentially have you doubt the work you’ve been putting in.

“Most people overestimate what they can do in a day, and underestimate what they can do in a month. We overestimate what we can do in a year, and underestimate what we can accomplish in a decade.” – Matthew Kelly from (The Long View)

The point I’m making here is that sometimes the work being put in is GOOD work. Work that is leading to the right results. It’s just our own expectations linked to the wrong goals which were to blame.

More often than not the results we’re expecting will take longer than initially expected. Once we factor this into our expectations, we can create some meaningful goals to measure our progress against.

Result vs Behaviour

When talking about goals I want to clearly distinguish between two distinct types.

  • Results Goals (Lagging Indicator) This is the most common type of goal and the one that ironically causes the most problems. A good example of a results goal might be “run a marathon this year”. It ticks all the boxes. Its specific and measurable and all that good stuff. But it’s got one really big problem. You can’t measure progress against it. Its binary. You get to the end of the year and you’ve either run that marathon or you haven’t.

  • Behaviour Goals (Lead Indicator) This is a less common type of goal because it doesn’t get the fanfare results goals often do. Sticking to the marathon example from earlier, a good behavioural goal might be “run every day”. By tracking a behavioural goal, you’re able to make adjustments along the way. It’s the summation of consistently hitting these behaviour goals which makes achieving the “results” goal possible

I highly recommend combining a single key results goal, like sales, clicks, subscribers etc with 1-3 behavioural goals. Combining the two types of goals in this way means you can make progress towards the bigger goal by ticking off the smaller ones along the way.

Take some time to really think about the key steps that go into the goal you’re aiming for and break them down into measurable items.

I promise it is the behavioural goals that will make most of the difference to your success or failure.

Remember results are rarely linear. They ebb and flow over time. This is why it’s so critical to have more than one metric to measure your progress against. When one metric is flat the others can spur you on and help you to stay the course!

Make this adjustment

So before you get started on your next marketing project I’d like you to stop and take a breath. I don’t want to dampen your enthusiasm. I want you to consciously focus on matching expectations with the work you are about to undertake. You’ll thank me for this later!

Take Action

  1. Take a sheet of paper and write down your email marketing expectations for the next 90 days.

  2. Add one results goal (sales, leads, subscribers, visitors, etc etc)

  3. Add 1-3 behaviour goals (blog posts written, newsletters sent, lead magnets produced, etc etc)