How to identify and measure against progress goals?
As you likely know, seeing results (see outcomes below) can take time. But that doesn’t mean you must resign yourself to only hope for the best. On the contrary, you can measure progress goals until you reach the point of measuring results.
The aim is to check whether you and your agency are making progress towards your outcome goals – while there is time to alter course. There is a good chance that your outcome goals will follow your progress goals – if you’ve set them right.
A common mistake is to agree to start a project with a marketing agency and then only wait to see if you are likely to be successful six months later.
Seth Godin, in his book “The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick)”, suggests that you focus on (small) progress wins.
“To succeed,” he writes, “to get to that light at the end of the tunnel, you’ve got to make some sort of progress, no matter how small… but it needs to be more than a mantra, more than just “surviving is succeeding.”
Your challenge, then, is to identify the milestones in areas that precede the ultimate victory.
Progress goals will differ between each client and agency. But, it’s still important to discuss the progress goals you have so that you can each remain clear on what good progress looks like.
For example, here are some ideas for progress goals you could agree with your agency:
- “We’ll deliver a viable 6-page website in 6 weeks. Then, we’ll build it out with content over the following 12 weeks, adding 2 pages every week.”
- “We’ll plan and shoot 50 videos within 8 weeks of starting our project.”
- “We’ll hit 75% of our project milestones (deadlines) over the first 3 months of work together.”
- “We’ll publish 1 post per week on the blog and syndicate this content across 4 social media channels for one year.”
- “80% of our blog posts will have good (i.e. green) Yoast scores.”
- “80% of our blog posts will have good (i.e. Grade 8) readability scores.”
- “80% of the website pages will load in 3 seconds or less.”
Again, you’ll have to agree to the specifics with your marketing agency. Your progress goals will depend on what’s important to you. However, they should have positive relationships with your outcome goals. If it knows its business, your agency should guide you on which progress goals strongly correlate with client success.
Checking in regularly (see communication above) with your agency and discussing your project against the progress goals keeps each other informed and accountable. In addition, progress is an excellent proxy for reaching your outcome goals, which I’ll discuss next.
How to identify and measure against outcome goals?
After more than 20 years working with cataract and refractive surgeons, I’ve learned that most can’t specifically tell you what outcome goals they want to achieve. However, they all know they want more surgical patients. So, while it’s good to know the vague destination you wish to reach, it’s crucial to specify what that looks like.
We’ve all heard of SMART goals. The SMART goal approach remains classic because it is helpful in so many circumstances. So, at the very least, I will guide my clients to specify the SMART goals they want to achieve around surgical patient numbers.
However, while specific surgical patient numbers may be the superordinate goal you want to measure against, your agency is not solely responsible for getting patients to lie on your surgical bed. The attainability of those results will depend on many factors, including
- Macro-economic trends
- Your availability
- Your staff
- Your suitability criteria
- Your breadth of offerings
- Your price competitiveness
- The ease of doing business with you (online booking, hours of operation, location)
- Unexpected events like global pandemics, etc.
So, if you want to get the best out of your marketing agency, you’ll want your goals for them to be relevant. But then, you’ll need to be realistic about when you expect your goals to materialise (i.e. Timeliness).
For best results, you’ll want to set a broad set of goals across every stage of your patient value journey. This approach provides a set of metrics that you can check weekly. It also informs you about weak spots in the journey that you may want to prioritise to improve results.
For example, we set out metrics like these for our Growth Acceleration clients. We check on them weekly, rating them on a scale of weak to strong. Then, together with our client, we adjust the goals for each metric every quarter (at our quarterly executive meetings) to ensure we’ve got our fingers on the pulse of the practice’s vital marketing statistics.
Again, you’ll need to decide what you want to measure. Your agency should guide you through this process. They’ll need to tell you where you currently score and what you can expect to achieve in three months. These metrics above are starting points. Feel free to share them with your agency and ask them to tell you where you are on each and what you should expect in 3 months.
When to call it quits (and when to stick)
In “The Dip”, Godin advises “strategic quitting”. What he means is
“Quitting when you’re panicked is dangerous and expensive. The best quitters are the ones who decide in advance when they’re going to quit.”
Before you begin an engagement – with a marketing agency or any other business partner – Seth advises that you ask yourself, “How much time and money am I willing to sacrifice? How much short-term discomfort am I willing to endure?”
Based on these limits, are you likely to achieve greatness with your current agency partnership? If yes, proceed and only quit if you’ve exceeded your defined quitting limits OR something fundamental has changed.
Godin also advises not to quit at the first sign of trouble. If your journey is worth travelling, then quitting at the first setback or challenge only wastes the time you’ll spend getting back to where you were when you quit. The cataract and refractive surgeons that achieve “best in the world” status with their practices get through “the Dip”.
Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson, in their book “Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions and Hurtful Acts”, put forth a special rule of thumb when predicting the likely endurability of any relationship. They say that the ideal ratio of positive to negative interactions or outcomes should be 5:1. Any less than that, and you may be settling. Any more than that, and you’re likely in a relationship that you can empathetically recommend to your closest friends and colleagues.