Let's pick on New Year's Resolutions for a little bit. By June, only 40% of us who have made a resolution will stick with it ... why is that!? Most resolutions are too lofty to keep. So, let's pretend that self promotion was your 2014 New Year's Resolution. If I asked you, "What's the number one reason why you did well in 2014 at promoting your company and executing your marketing plan?" what would you say?

If you didn't do so well, you might say something like -

We started out with some goals and what seemed like a plan, but we got really busy with other things and ran out of time to execute on everything. Priorities shifted around and by the end of the year, marketing related projects had taken a back seat.

If you did well, you might say something like -

We kicked off 2014 with a goals list, then we made a plan, mapped out our quarters, checked in along the way, set lofty but not overly ambitious goals and worked hard all year. We had to readjust over the year, sure, but for the most part, we were able to hit our goals. We'll take a similar approach for 2015.

Goals without a plan are justs wants

If I had to give one reason why companies fail at self promotion, setting goals and then moving straight into execution would be the reason.

Goals without a plan are just wants or wishes. A goal that's not connected to a plan, a roadmap of how you will accomplish that goal, is just a hope - you hope to get that goal accomplished. The plan is the actionable list of steps that turns the goal into something beyond a wish list.

Most companies make the mistake of adding goals to their marketing plans without taking the time to map out how each of those goals will be accomplished during the year. This very thing happened for Venveo in 2014. We had a very ambitious list of marketing goals for 2014 that we included in our marketing plan, but just because we put them into our marketing plan didn't actually make them any more mapped out. We added a list of goals to our marketing plan but failed to create actionable steps to implement these goals.

Goals should be measurable

You'll need a way to stay accountable to your goals, and to do this you'll need a standard of measure. This will be unique and different for each goal, so you'll want to spend some time creating these standards of measure and documenting them. These will be very valuable at the end of the year when it comes time to report on your success.

When Venveo was ready to report at the end of 2014 we realized that the only method we had of reporting on how well we did was - "Did we do all the things we put in the plan? Yes or No."

Goals need positive and negative consequences

Perhaps the best way to hold yourself and your team accountable to goals is through consequences, both good and bad. Attaching consequences to each goal is a positive and neutral way to maintain accountability for team members and senior leadership as the year progresses and as priorities shift and new initiatives develop.

For example, Company Week is a positive consequence that is enjoyed by everyone at Venveo. It's a time when everyone in our Blacksburg and Vienna offices gets to come together in one physical location and spend time together. We often tie this consequence to specific goals to get ownership and buy-in company wide. If we meet 'x' goal then we get to have Company Week.

Look for the Fruit

Inevitably, things will change over the course of the year, but if you can create goals and then develop a plan for each of those goals, you'll be heading towards successful accomplishment!

Be sure to look for the good fruit that came out of the year beyond just meeting goals. What key takeaways came from conferences? What funny, special team building moments happened this year? Did something super or unexpected happen with a client/customer? Count these as wins too.