Goals are worthless, unless…

by Brian


Goals are the foundation of a solid marketing plan. For publishers they provide a target at which to aim, the standard against which you can gauge your company’s, and your book or publication’s, progress. They divide your vision statement into manageable steps and provide a path to its realization. And written goals provide a means for looking back to see how far you have come.


If all these benefits of setting goals are true, how can goals be of no value? Goal setting is a tool, and like any other tool it is useless if used incorrectly. Goals are worthless unless they are…

… clear, specific, measurable, time-sensitive and written. This admonition is almost a cliché, but it bears repeating. Objectives must be clear so there is no misinterpreting their intent; specific so there is no doubt about whether you reached them or not; measurable in their objectivity, eliminating indeterminate goals such as “be the best in the business;” attainable in a limited period (which could be a month, a year, five years or more); and written to make them indelible and not subject to later (mis)interpretation.

… realistic. Set goals within the realm of what is possible for you to accomplish. This does not mean you shouldn’t stretch to meet a worthy objective, but only that your optimism should not exceed your ability to fulfill.

arranged hierarchically. Arrange your goals from the most to the least important, from broad to specific targets so you do the most important tasks first.

… part of a plan. Planning is a verb, a series of sequential actions represented by the acronym PIE – Planning, Implementation, and Evaluation. Preparing objectives is the beginning of the planning process, the foundation upon which your implementation and evaluation occur.

… followed up. Once your plan is complete, move to the second part of the PIE acronym and implement your plan, taking action to reach your objectives. As the saying goes, plan your work and work your plan.

… evaluated to determine your relative progress and corrected as necessary. Are your actions taking you closer to, or further from your goals? How do you know? The evaluation portion of the PIE acronym tests your relative progress to make sure it is forward, and goal directed. If it is not, make the corrections necessary to get you back on course.

… focused on the solution and not the problem. Murphy’s Law is alive and well in most parts of the publishing process. But if you dwell on the things that go wrong, that is where your attention will be focused. Don’t fight problems, right problems. Set goals to reach profitability, not to avoid a loss.

… set when you are in a positive frame of mind. Negativity can overpower your thoughts when revenue and profits are down. That is not the time to be setting goals. Wait until you have regained control of your attitude.

… derived from a sense of purpose. Purpose breeds passion, the unfailing belief in yourself and your ability to make your goals become reality. Your targets will rarely motivate you to sustained action if they are not set from an unfailing sense of destiny.

Use goal setting as the tool it was meant to be, part of the process that transforms your vision statement into reality. Do this and your march to publishing success will be as simple as PIE.

Brian Jud is a book-marketing consultant, the Executive Director of the Association of Publishers for Special Sales, and author of How to Make Real Money Selling Books and Beyond the Bookstore.