2 min read

How To Set Actionable Marketing Goals

Let's have a look at one very important distinction when it comes to setting goals to drive action: Output Goals vs. Input Goals.
How To Set Actionable Marketing Goals

We talked a little bit about defining the right KPI's for you and your team in the newsletter two weeks ago.

But let's have a look at one very important distinction when it comes to setting goals to drive action: Output Goals vs. Input Goals.

Output Goals

Output focused goals are things like retention rate, engagement rate, generated leads, quarterly revenue and so forth.

These are metrics you should monitor.

But output metrics are not action-oriented and hence difficult to actually grasp and make progress on. Especially if you communicate them to your team, freelancers or agency, output-focused goals can be dangerous.

Dangerous because, if not broken down to actionable steps, they can lead to scattered, wasteful efforts across team members with no underlying and coherent strategy.

Input Goals

Examples for very simplified input focused goals are: Releasing a podcast episode every week, spending 30 minutes making sales calls per day, implementing one prioritized acquisition experiment per week etc.

These are metrics you can act on.

Input goals give you a sense of control over your daily, weekly and monthly progress, but you should not use them blindly.

Because while (well defined) input metrics are a great way to break down and delegate larger goals, they don't offer the larger view and the why of a specific task.

Don't you use these goals in isolation

For example, let's say you want to generate 100 leads (output) and you set an goal of recording one webinar per week (input). After four webinars you recognize that while you made a huge buzz on LinkedIn or Instagram and lots of people visited your website, only 5 people actually showed up. So we gotta have a look and tweak the execution of that input metric or change it altogether, because the desired output (lots of leads) does not match the actual output (lots of website visits, but few leads).

🏋️‍♂️ Or a simpler way of putting it: If you want to get six-pack abs (output goal) and you decide to engage in 60 minute squat exercises 3x per week (input goal), you might strengthen those abdominal ads a little bit, but the real development (output) will be in your tighs and glutes.

And That's Why you need both.

It's really when you marry the two that you unlock the full potential. Output goals let you know where you want to go, but ultimately they’re out of your control. And while inputs are controllable, they alone don’t always lead to results. Inputs need something to work toward.

Or in Alan Cohen's words:

“Use both and overlook neither.”

Ultimately, it's your job to determine where setting output goals is enough (and let your team break it down into intelligent input goals that get the job done), and where defining the input goals yourself makes more sense so that you actually achieve the desired outcome (i.e. output).