In the world of video content marketing, goals are everything. Despite the fact that video is one of the best ways to connect with your consumers, posting content without a clear objective is more likely to harm your brand than help it. Creating successful video content takes time, energy, focus, and most importantly, a super solid plan.
Enter SMART criteria, a concept which dates back to an article by George T. Doran in a 1981 issue of Management Review. “SMART” is an acronym created by Doran and originally intended to illustrate management principles. Over time, as the concept of SMART criteria has grown in popularity, they have come to be more broadly applied to a number of aspects of business that benefit from well-defined objectives.
Doran’s original definition has changed over time, as SMART was used for new fields with new modes of thought. But while some of his specific wording has changed, the purpose of SMART has remained essentially the same: To help your brand set goals that work specifically for your unique, individual needs.
While no brand has the same goals, they can all learn to manage those goals as efficiently as possible. That’s why today, the acronym SMART is understood to stand for:
But what do all of these different aspects of SMART criteria really mean, and how can you utilize them in a manner that feels relevant? By setting your objectives in such a way as to align them with SMART criteria, your brand will be a road to new levels of productivity and accomplishment.
The first letter of SMART criteria stands for “Specific,” as in “Set specific goals.” When you decide to invest in video content creation, always make sure that you have a crystal-clear, specific outcome to pursue. If your brand’s self-stated goal is as broad as “sell more of my product or service,” then your video will be similarly murky. “Selling” is vague and contains many diverse aspects. Whatever call to action you decide to include, it needs to be focussed enough to inspire audiences to follow through.
Instead of “sell more,” try something more specific, like “direct more viewers to our online shop.” While those may sound like similar goes on paper, the latter comes with direction and purpose. It is built around inspiring action – in this case, directing viewers to click on a specific webpage, rather than the more vague concept of “selling.” Speaking of clicks, that brings us to our second part of the acronym…
When setting objectives for your video content, it is essential that those objectives be directly measurable – otherwise, how can you know that they are working? For example, if your brand focussed on the aforementioned vague goal of “sell more,” how could you prove that the sales were a result of your video release, and not an unrelated factor? By contrast, with the growing advent of business oriented video-hosting platforms, brands can directly measure click-through rates and other engagement metrics associated with your video content.
There are a number of key performance indicators (KPIs) that your hosting platform can help you to keep track of, all for the purpose of optimizing your video content and making sure that not only are your viewers watching, but that those same viewers are also engaging with what they see. Likes, clicks, impressions calls…depending on your specific goal, any of these elements can be kept accurate track of and used to determine whether or not it was successful.
Out of all the SMART criteria, “Achievable” may be the most controversial. Hearing it, you might ask: “Whatever happened to concepts like ‘Shoot for the stars’ and ‘You can accomplish anything you want to, if you just believe in yourself?’” Well, while both of those are powerful sentiments (and definitely have value in terms of motivating your brand to try new approaches), neither is very useful for setting practical goals. Grand ambitions have their place, but incremental, achievable goals are far superior at encouraging your team and–most importantly–steering the direction of your campaign.
Remember, every piece of video content you create is ultimately working towards the grand, overarching goals of spreading brand awareness and making money. Rather than throw a bunch of resources at a single untested solution and then sit back with your fingers crossed, hoping that it works out, smaller, achievable goals are better at helping you gradually gauge what works, what doesn’t, and then make adjustments to guide your campaign as it unfolds.
“Relevant” is perhaps the most abstract of the SMART criteria to grapple with. Its meaning is two-fold: First, your video marketing has to be relevant to the specific, measurable, and achievable goals that you previously outlined. The first three criteria have all been relatively theoretical so far – this is where the concept of SMART gets practical. Producing a great video is one thing, but if you fail to keep your eyes on the prize, you can easily wind up with a terrific piece of art that has nothing to do with any of your ambitions.
Second, your videos have to be relevant to the wants, needs, and aesthetics of your audience. Goals don’t mean anything if they completely miss the mark on the most important part of the marketing equation: The people you are marketing to. Always research, study, and analyze your desired audience to figure out what they want, and then construct your goals in such a way as to authentically connect with theirs.
Time is of the essence, no matter what stage of the marketing funnel you are in. When it comes to crafting a successful video campaign, you need to schedule with great care and precision to ensure a productive production cycle. Don’t just trust that things will get done on time – utilize a calendar and hold yourself (and your team) accountable for sticking to it. Keep in mind all of the steps that you have already outlined…and the possibility that things might go wrong. After all, a little extra time never hurt anybody. And if you don’t need it, that just means a few more days for refining and polishing.
Having a time-bound goal is the best way to manage human error on a video content campaign. The pressure, the clearly-delineated goalposts, and the deadlines are powerful methods to stir up creative motivation. By staying time-bound, you can guarantee that the other SMART criteria are met in an orderly, prompt fashion.
Set Your Goals
More than a catchy acronym, the SMART criteria are a different mindset for approaching what can often seem like an impossible objective: Creating video content that works. Even with the dramatic rise of video’s success over the past few years, your content provides no guarantee of audience conversion. But by thinking SMART, you can start acting smart too.