Set Yourself Up for Success The S.M.A.R.T. Way

How many times has a prospect defined their investment goal as vaguely as, “I need enough money to retire”? You likely responded by shaking your head and heaving an inward sigh. As a savvy financial services professional, you know that “I need enough money to retire” does not a retirement strategy make. It’s too vague. So, you began gathering intel. Your line of questioning probably went something like this:

  • When do you plan to retire?
  • What do you want to do in retirement?
  • Where are your assets currently appropriated?
  • Which resources do you have access to?

In order to advise and guide your prospect to achieving their financial goals, you need detailed answers. Without specifying their goals and identifying their timeline, it’s impossible to develop a retirement strategy that will meet their needs.

The same holds true for defining goals for financial services marketing.

Saying “sell more life insurance” or “get in front of more prospects” is not a marketing strategy. Why? Because, like “I need enough to retire,” it is too vague.

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If you are a financial advisor or insurance agent who identifies a vague business objective as your marketing goal, you are not alone. And, all is not lost. These vague goals are a great starting point. But, now you need to get S.M.A.R.T.

S.M.A.R.T. goals, that is.

If you read our last blog, you know a S.M.A.R.T. goal is:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound (or Trackable)

Let’s delve a little deeper, shall we?


A marketing goal that is specific answers the following questions:

  • What do I want to accomplish?
  • Why is this goal important?
  • Who is involved?
  • Which resources are involved?


A measurable marketing goal states:

  • How much/many?
  • How will I know when it is accomplished?


An achievable marketing goal outlines:

  • How will I accomplish this goal?
  • How realistic is this goal?
  • What are some factors to consider?


A relevant marketing goal considers your business’ current status:

  • Does this match my other efforts/needs?
  • Is it the right time?


A timely marketing goal names a deadline:

  • When while I plan to achieve this?
  • What can I do xx months from now to get me closer to my goal?
  • What can I do xx weeks from now to get me closer to my goal?
  • What can I do TODAY to get me closer to my goal?

When asking clarifying questions of your prospects, you’re actually developing S.M.A.R.T. goals.

“When do you plan to retire?”

Is it less than a year from now? 3-5 years from now? 5+ years from now? The answer to this question gives you a time-bound metric.

A time-bound metric helps you determine what options you have for investing opportunities. If the person is going to retire within a year and plans to make withdrawals from their account, you probably won’t recommend a product that needs 3+ years of untouched growth before withdrawals can be made.

“How much annual income do you need to maintain your current lifestyle in retirement?”

Do you currently have savings for retirement? What is your current annual income? This is a measurable metric.

Along the way, you’ll need to be able to measure the success of your efforts, so you can show your client that what you’re doing is the right thing for them and why this is the right time for them to listen to you. It helps you determine the kinds of returns you’ll have to create for your client’s portfolio in order to help them achieve that number. Or, it points out that this goal is not achievable. If realistically, their goal is impossible to achieve, you’ll need to work with the client to come up with a new realistic goal.

Shift back to your marketing goals.

If you follow a similar line of questioning and outline specific information to drive your marketing strategy, a marketing objective that began as “meet with more clients,” could transform into something like:

“Grow my client portfolio by 10%, meeting with at least 100 prospects in 2018, who I will connect with through a weekly advertisement in my local newspaper.

With a clear-cut statement like this, you’re able to focus, knowing what you have to do every week to reach your goal. You also set yourself up to be able to track your progress and make adjustments if needed. (“Hmmm, I’m supposed to meet with 100 prospects this year, but it is April, and I have only met with twelve potential clients. Maybe I should adjust my method of attracting prospects, so I can get back on track to reaching my goal.”)

Developing SMART goals are critical to your success. They provide the focus, motivation, and clarity needed to achieve your goals. SMART goals are also easy to use. Anyone, anywhere can use SMART goal setting for any objective.

We’ve created a straightforward worksheet to will help you develop your SMART goal, which you can download here.

Have you developed your business goal for 2018 yet? Feel free to share them in the comments section, and let us know how you used the SMART method to define your goal! 


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Becky Zbyszewski - Senior Strategic Marketing Manager

Specializing in content development, social media marketing and strategy, Becky brings over 10 years of work experience to the DMI Marketing team. After graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in English from Saint Anselm College, Becky’s career encompassed a wide variety of industries, including financial services, education and marketing. She brings a unique perspective to the Strategic Marketing team that in turn helps advisors and agents develop their marketing strategies.

* This content is for licensed financial professional use only. This website is not intended for use by the general public.

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