Without clear, attainable goals, a business will stagnate and die. When I started Paul Davis Solutions, it had a simple goal: earn enough money to pay our bills. That goal remains at the core to what we do, especially after stay at home orders shuttered so many customers’ doors; however, Paul Davis Solutions’ goal setting has definitely matured and will continue to do so.

How do you set marketing goals for your business that both inspire creative proactive decision making and give you a reason to celebrate when you achieve them?

The Goal-Setting Paradox

Great goals are both Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs) and also an achievable goal. As Kevin O’Leary observed in his Shark Tank investments, people love to be a part of a winning team. When we achieve our goals, celebrate that achievement, then we feel like we are winning.

There is nothing more disappointing than hoping and never achieving. Unless you are dealing with some major mental issues, celebrating too simple goals is almost as disastrous as setting goals that are beyond your reach. When I have dealt with depression in the past, it really helps to celebrate getting out of bed, eating food, or getting dressed. If for whatever reason (coronavirus stay at home orders are a good reason), you are dealing with that level of depression right now, go ahead and celebrate! You got out of bed, yay! You didn’t respond to your relative’s post on Facebook, yay!

For the rest of the time, we need to set goals that cause a little more of a stretch, while still being achievable if you do the work.

Setting Marketing Goals within a Business Plan

Marketing and sales are the process by which you get customers, but if you don’t have a product or service to sell them, your marketing will cause more harm than good.

A good business plan starts with you are providing products/services for, how you will provide them, and why they should purchase from you. This tri-part foundation is essential to a business.

  • Without a customer, you don’t have a business
  • Without something to sell (product or service), you cannot have a customer.
  • Without a reason why, your product or service will not be something to sell.

The basis for all business is something to sell to someone with a compelling reason for them to buy.

The Fundamental Areas of Business Planning

Once you have the three basics of a business, you need to look at the major areas of expertise required for every business, including marketing.


Understanding how you are going to produce what your customers need, and then doing it. Production looks different depending on whether you are doing a service or a product and depending on what type of service or product you are producing.


Distribution is the process by which you deliver your product or service to your customer. In physical products, distribution is one of the most important parts of your business planning. Without distribution, you cannot fulfill one of the fundamental three aspects of your business.


A sales plan addresses your three fundamentals and how to communicate your why and how to those you are serving (your who). For example, when I took a summer and did sales training selling books door to door in college, we broke down exactly who could use our books and why. A sales plan includes the approach, the presentation, answering objections, and the close. Without an understanding of your sales plan, all other planning will be superfluous.


Marketing takes your sales and runs with it. The goal of modern marketing is to take what works in one-on-one sales and transform it to work for one-to-many. Instead of approaching someone in person, marketing uses organic and paid content to approach your ideal client. A presentation in marketing can often be automated and geared to simplify the buying process: think any retail store. You decide what you want and then purchase, all the store needs is a closer. Marketing can also close the sell without a sales person, think Amazon one-click purchasing. Many people who use Amazon have never talked to a representative, attempted a chat, or had any other one-on-one interactions with employees at Amazon.

That’s marketing.


Your leadership planning includes looking for potential changes required in your business (SWOT analysis works here), how you are going to improve your organizational operations (Deming or 6 Sigma can work here), and also business succession planning.


Planning your capitalization includes budgeting and projecting incomes and expenditures. It includes looking at how you will get startup capital and when and where you will obtain capital for growth.

Setting Your Marketing Goals

As you can see, good business planning is an organic look at your entire business, starting from the fundamentals and building a complete picture of who you serve, what you provide, and how you will deliver it to the market, including how you will increase your percentage of that market.

As such, when you have a good business plan set, you can start placing attainable stretch goals for your marketing within that framework.

You should look at your data for current website marketing statistics, social media marketing statistics, direct mail statistics, traditional media marketing, and other stats as the need arises.

Now, for most small businesses, statistics is too big a word for what you need to look at when you are setting goals.

Look at how many people like your business page. Can you double it in a reasonable amount of time?

Look at your website users statistics (using Google Analytics or the Jetpack plugin for WordPress). Can you attempt to break 1000 views in one month?

The numbers you look at don’t require calculus or statistical analysis, they just require the ability to measure and improve your marketing tactics.