Depending on where you look and who you ask, it’s either way too early (“It’s not even Thanksgiving yet!”—said mostly by people who don’t work in communications) or way too late to start planning your marketing strategy for 2019.

But we say this: now’s a better time to start thinking about 2019 than any other option you’ve got. 

That starts by setting goals.

Setting goals for your business is a lot like setting (successful) New Year’s Resolutions. Goals need to be aspirational but realistic; grounded in facts; and specifically defined. Let’s break that down.

Aspirational but realistic: We all know how to set aspirational goals. Many of us have vowed to: look like Gigi Hadid by April; completely cut out sugar; fully de-junk our lives and adopt a minimal lifestyle by posing the question “do I find this beautiful or useful?” to every single object in our home. SPOILER ALERT: it doesn’t happen. Because progress happens in smaller pieces, and just wanting something badly enough doesn’t make it so.

It’s the same for setting goals for business. Yes, we all want to have $10 million in revenue by the end of the year. Yes, we all want placements in the New York Times and Bon Appetit and Fast Company. Yes, we want to see conversions from Facebook jump 1000%. And some of us will get there—but not if we haven’t been laying the groundwork.

So in setting goals, be realistic. If you were winging your social media channels in 2018, start by developing a social media strategy, including content pillars, ad messaging (and corresponding budget), and community management guidelines. Aim to implement processes in early 2019, then revisit those processes halfway through the year to see what’s growing (whether that’s audience size, engagement, conversions—whatever data point you’re tracking.)  

Grounded in facts: If your New Year’s Resolution is to work out 6 days a week, and historically you go once a week if you’re lucky, you’re ignoring the facts. Again—it’s unlikely that you’ll scale up from 1 to 6 just because the calendar switched from December to January.

Similarly, your business data can—and should—inform the goals you set for your company in 2019. What is your current average engagement rate on Facebook? What does Google Analytics say your conversion rate is from social media? What press hits are referring traffic back to your website? The whole point of having access to data like this is to use it. Review the 2018 numbers and set fact-based goals for the upcoming year.

Specifically defined: Goal-setting works better when goals are specific. Saying “In 2019, I’m going to eat better” doesn’t give you any real parameters to gauge your progress against. You’re more likely to be successful if you have real guideposts to help you along, like: “In 2019, I’ll limit my takeout to once per week”, or, if you’re a masochist, “This year, I’m going to completely stop eating cake.”

Same goes for business goals. Aiming for “social media growth” or “more press hits” is nebulous. Instead, look at how many press hits you garnered in 2018 (reviewing those facts!) and aim for a higher, specifically-defined number. Do you want to see higher engagement on social media? Review your historic engagement and aim higher. Then, do the strategic and tactical work to get there.

What business goals have you set for 2019? How did you arrive at them?

///