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The Secret Of The Goal Pyramid

I’m a marketing guy. Have been for most of my life. It’s a broad term that means something different to almost everyone. In my world, it’s an interesting blend of left brain and right brain that allows me to come up with creative ideas and then act on them to produce results. For some really creative types, I’m an implementer. For some really logical types, I make magic. From my perspective, it’s simply what I do.

A number of years back, one of my favorite CEOs introduced me by saying, "This is Brian. He runs our marketing. He does magic." Although it was very flattering, it also bothered me. It got me to think about not only what I do, but how I do it. I examined my creative process, and realized that it is just that: part creative and part process. I documented what I do and how I do it so I could explain it and pass it along to others. That was the moment that the Goal Pyramid was born. It’s a pyramid because each part builds on the previous layer, with the goal at the top, supported by strategies to meet that goal, an execution plan to deliver the strategies, and a base of resources to act on the plan. Best of all it is simple, and it works.

Start with a SMART Goal

If you don’t know where you are going, you will have a hard time knowing when you get there! Goals are very important, but understanding how to make goals actionable is key. The Goal Pyramid is a simple way to make sure you spend your time and money on the right things to reach your goals (and avoid the wrong things). 

The Goal Pyramid starts with one, single SMART goal.

  • Specific

  • Measurable

  • Attainable

  • Relevant

  • Timely

There are variations on this concept, but versions of SMART goals are all pretty similar. The important part is that you have one and only one goal at the top of your Goal Pyramid.

This is the part where someone inevitably pops up and says, “But I have so many goals that are all of equal importance,” to which I reply, “then make separate Goal Pyramids for each one of your key goals.” I suggest limiting yourself to a maximum of three Goal Pyramids in a six month period so you don’t end up with an exercise in unfinished business. And, if you do finish all three goals before the time period is over, there is nothing that says you cannot start new Goal Pyramids. Think of it this way: if you could achieve three key goals for your business in the next six months, how different will your business be?

Create One or More Strategies to Meet Your Goal

In the Goal Pyramid, a strategy is a path to achieve a part or portion of your goal. As the second layer in the Goal Pyramid, you create one or more strategies that are specific to helping you meet the goal at the top. As an example, if your goal is to increase sales by 20% year over year, potential strategies could have something to do with new customer acquisition through lead generation campaigns, existing customer retention and revenue growth via dedicated account management, and maybe the implementation of a sales operations lead scoring process to move prospects through your sales funnel. Those could be three unique strategies, as long as they all relate directly to reaching the stated SMART goal.  

Implement Tactics and Processes to Deliver Your Strategies

Now that you have your strategies identified, you need to determine the execution plan to deliver on your strategies. Execution plans consist of tactics (one time events) and processes (ongoing events) that become your list of goal-focused activities that become your roadmap for success. By prioritizing these activities, assigning roles and responsibilities and having accountability for the execution, you have a clear path to delivering on your strategies to reach your goal.

Determine Resources You Need, But Avoid Shiny Metal Objects

How many times have you heard people say, “we’d be more successful if we just had…” Would you, really? Some people search endlessly for the next shiny metal object, usually specific people or tools, that will transform their business. The reality is that if you don’t know exactly how that resource serves your ability to execute on your plan, then you can’t be sure that the resources will help you deliver on your strategies and help you meet your goal. Always start at the top of the Goal Pyramid with the goal, and work your way down through the strategies, then execution layer. If you examine your tactics and processes, you can determine if you have the right resources already available. If you don’t, you have a very clear business case for what resources you need and why. Avoiding the shiny metal object not only saves you from investing in the wrong resources, but sets a path for measurable results with the right resources to help you meet your goal.  

I’ve used the Goal Pyramid as a framework for strategic planning at many different businesses of many different sizes across many different industries. As long as there is commitment and follow-through, it works better than any other business process I’ve been involved with because it is easy to understand and easy to implement. It can be used for revenue goals, operational goals, innovation goals and marketing goals. I have even used it very effectively for personal goals. Anyone who has worked with me over the past decade knows my story on the Goal Pyramid. I keep sharing it because it is simple and it works. That's the secret of the Goal Pyramid.

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