Finish Lines, or Milestones?

Posted by on August 19, 2013

A Monday Morning Memo from The Wizard of Ads

A bank once informed their advertising consultant they had written a mission statement, developed a five year plan, and agreed upon a goal that would be the focus of all their concerted action. The directors of the bank had decided their goal would be 100% Customer Retention. A worthy goal, right?

The bank told their ad consultant they were willing to do “whatever it takes” to be certain they never lost a customer to another bank. The consultant was told his job would be to determine how to best accomplish this goal. After several weeks of grueling research, the consultant addressed the bank’s board of directors. He said he could guarantee the bank 100% Customer Retention if once a year, they would give every customer of the bank a new convertible.

At Williams Marketing, we ask all our clients to develop mission statements and business plans because without them, you’re simply “flying blind.” How can you tell the public who you are when you, yourself don’t know? The bank’s mistake wasn’t in developing a mission statement or a five year plan, it was their selection of an unrealistic goal. The goal of “100% Customer Retention” sounds great, but is it really a goal, or is it just brave talk? Sure, the goal can be accomplished, but is it worth what will be required?

A goal is like the finish line of a race. Once you reach it, the race is over. I prefer to think of business as a race without a finish line, but with dozens of milestones along the way. Milestones let you know you are still on the right course, and they help you mark your progress. Milestones give you cause for celebration and encouragement at regular intervals along the way.

Take some time to consider the course ahead, and identify the milestones you will celebrate when you reach them! Milestones shouldn’t only be related to increased sales volume. A milestone might be a move into a new location, recognition by a trade association, or an invitation into a prestigious group. A number of years ago, a client told me he was looking forward to the day he could start dictating to the bank the terms of doing business with him. His favorite fantasy was of the meeting where he would tell the bank what they were going to have to do to keep his business. (We celebrated this milestone with him in early 1994.) I know a sculptor who wants to have one of his monuments become such a landmark the city would feature it on the cover of the phone book.

What are the milestones which will be meaningful to you?

Roy H. Williams

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