How to Set SMART Marketing Objectives For Your Education Organization

Marketing is essential to the growth and impact of your education organization, and executing a successful marketing campaign in education is no easy feat. This is why your education organization needs SMART marketing objectives. SMART marketing objectives are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely targets you set to track your organization’s progress in fulfilling its long-term marketing plan.

SMART marketing objectives are like small steps in a long and fulfilling journey. Each objective is a necessary checkpoint that will ultimately guide you to your ideal destination, which in this case, is bringing your organization’s vision to life.

Whether you’re an educational institution, nonprofit, training program or even a for-profit that serves educators, objectives are critical for tracking both where your organization’s been and the success you’re working toward. The logic is simple: if your organization doesn’t define concrete and quantifiable marketing objectives, how can you truly measure progress?

Here’s how your education organization can set SMART marketing objectives that will help you reach major milestones and feel good about the work you accomplish.

Align your marketing objectives with your organizational goals

The best way to maximize the impact of your marketing objectives is to develop a unified approach, so let’s talk about the most effective way to align your SMART marketing objectives with your education organization’s overarching goals.

To keep your marketing objectives in line with the bigger picture, figure out which teams (i.e. marketing/communications and business or resource development) will need to work in concert with one another to achieve key benchmarks. Cohesiveness across parties will facilitate communication and help your organization focus on the objectives with the most potential impact.

For example, if your university’s umbrella goal for the upcoming school year is to increase revenue through enrollment by 10 percent, you’ll have to make sure both the marketing and recruitment teams are setting smaller objectives that work toward this overall goal.

Make your marketing objectives SMART

Brainstorm your marketing objectives

Making your marketing objectives SMART requires a lot of thought and planning. To get your brainstorm rolling, here are some potential baseline marketing objectives you might set for your education organization:

  • Increase yearly revenue by two percent
  • Generate 50 more sales or donor leads
  • Increase enrollment by three percent
  • Decrease dropout rate by two percent
  • Secure two more media placements per month
  • Increase the ROI of advertising by five percent

This list is a good starting point, but if you’re having trouble tailoring it to your organization, think about what you struggled with the most in the last quarter. Identifying areas of weakness is the best way to isolate your pain points and set SMART marketing objectives intended to patch weak areas, and in turn, spur growth.

Measure your marketing objectives

Look at your organization’s past performance and use those numbers as benchmarks to set higher-performing objectives for the following term. Unlike goals, which can be qualitative or quantitative, objectives are only quantitative, making it easy to evaluate progress throughout the year. Numerical benchmarks give you a concrete reference point to build from. Here are a few metrics you can look at for past performance:

  • Number of social media likes and impressions
  • Number of donors
  • Total revenue
  • Email marketing click-through rate
  • Lead to customer conversion rate
  • Number of media hits

If you’re a higher education institution, for example, one of your marketing goals could be to increase the number of online campus tour enrollments. Based on this goal, a SMART marketing objective would be to increase your visitor to lead conversion from five percent to 10 percent.  

As you continue to set marketing objectives, make sure you’re being realistic. Trust your gut and revisit past performance to accurately gauge your organization’s capabilities. When you do this, you will have a greater chance of hitting your SMART marketing objectives and feeling proud of your organization’s progress.

Take actionable steps to achieve your marketing objectives

Communicate across all relevant parties and decide who will get what done and when. Once all tasks are assigned, you’re ready to begin hitting your SMART marketing objectives.

At Prosper Strategies, when we implement marketing plans for our education clients, we make sure to closely communicate with our clients’ sales and internal marketing teams (if they have them). Together, we brainstorm overarching marketing goals and outline objectives that will help us achieve them.

For example, if a client’s marketing objective is to position themselves to their audience as the leading K-12 educational technology solution by landing five more media placements per month, here are a few SMART marketing and PR objectives we may implement:

  • Achieve three earned “media hits,” or mentions by reporters in pitched news articles that demonstrate our client’s expertise in student learning
  • Place two pieces of contributed content a month positioning our client as a leading and practical edtech solution

The more efficient communication there is between marketing, PR and other relevant departments, the greater the chance you’ll hit your marketing objectives and advance toward your organization’s long-term vision.

Prioritize your marketing objectives

Overwhelming your team with too many marketing objectives is a recipe for disappointment and disaster. The number of objectives you’re equipped to handle depends on the size and scope of your organization. You never want to spread yourself too thin.Overwhelming your team with too many marketing objectives is a recipe for disappointment and disaster. Click To Tweet

Ask yourself this: if you could accomplish just one marketing objective this quarter, what would it be? If you’re an education organization looking to position yourself as a thought leader, you may want to prioritize your objectives based on which tactics will land your organization quality media placements and more social media engagement. Press coverage that demonstrates your education brand’s accomplishments in the learning space will help guide this discussion. If you need help, here are a few other tips for securing PR coverage for your organization.

Knowing your stakeholders (whether they are students, faculty, donors, potential employers, etc.) and where they consume content will also help you prioritize objectives that will have the greatest influence over your target audience.

Set deadlines

Set hard deadlines for your SMART marketing objectives, whether that is by month, quarter or year. Deadlines help your organization stay on track and encourage a steady, focused workflow. Organization growth is a long process, but it’s even more tedious when you let deadlines slip through the cracks.

Focus on the big picture

When assessing progress toward your SMART marketing objectives, don’t get bogged down in the nitty gritty details or get discouraged if you fail to meet them immediately. What matters most is your education organization’s overall performance and the role marketing is playing in improving it.

Small incremental changes are still impactful in the long run and they’re a great confidence boost. When you or your team achieves a core marketing objective, pat yourself on the back! Acknowledging every success along the way is great for team morale.

Remaining competitive also means being nimble and making adjustments to your objectives when necessary. If you do this, your education organization will be one step closer to making a bigger, positive impact.

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Need help setting your organization’s marketing objectives? As important as they are, in order to make a meaningful impact, objectives need to work in concert with a brand strategy. Use our free crash course in building a results-driven marketing program to help brainstorm SMART marketing objectives for your education organization.

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