How S.M.A.R.T Goals made me a better affiliate manager

goalsI remember a time, farther back than I care to mention, when I managed programs, well, from the hip.  Runnin’-n-Gunnin’ is what we call it now.  As a new affiliate manager, I just didn’t know any better.  When I was asked what my program goals were, or where I wanted to be, I would just say “more”;  more sales, more affiliates, more performance, more revenue.  Does that sound like you?

I’ve had the good fortune and blessing of having great mentors and advisers over my life and professional career.  One has always been my father.  Ed Birch has a long track record of managing some of the largest manufacturers in the country.  That experience has enabled him to do some pretty amazing things, and has allowed me to learn some tried and true business principles that, once I really took to them, enabled my business and the affiliate programs we manage to really grow quickly, methodically and hit some serious goals.  He shared those concepts around the dinner table, in our pickup truck (looked just like Uncle Jessie’s on the Dukes of Hazard), on mountain biking trips and more.  And I’ll be honest, as most sons, I fought some of those learning moments for some time (25 years) before I started to realize that, yeah, the old man is right.

Over time I’m sure you’ll hear more about that, and stories from my family, but today I was thinking about SMART goals and how things changed after starting to use them.

So what’s a SMART goal?  a SMART Goal is a goal that is:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

Pretty simple right?  Goals in general have a better chance of being accomplished when they are specific and not general in nature.  For example – “Grow affiliate sales by 20%” is much more specific than “Grow sales through affiliate channel”.

How can you know if you reach a goal if you don’t have a measurement for it?  “Be a better affiliate manager”, that is a goal that is almost impossible to quantifiably measure.  “Answer affiliate emails within 24 hours”, Send monthly newsletter on the 1st of each month”, “increase active affiliates by 5 affiliates each week” – those are all measurable goals that you can track over time.  Goals need to be able to be measured and tracked so you can see how you are doing in terms of attaining them.  “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it“.

Goals need to be attainable.  From – “When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You develop the attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach them. You begin seeing previously overlooked opportunities to bring yourself closer to the achievement of your goals.

You can attain most any goal you set when you plan your steps wisely and establish a time frame that allows you to carry out those steps. Goals that may have seemed far away and out of reach eventually move closer and become attainable, not because your goals shrink, but because you grow and expand to match them. When you list your goals you build your self-image. You see yourself as worthy of these goals, and develop the traits and personality that allow you to possess them.

Goals should also be realistic and timely.  Your goals must be representative of objectives that you are willing and able to work towards.  If you aren’t willing to put in the work, you won’t reach your goals.  If you don’t put a time frame to them, you end up procrastinating until the goal becomes some abstract hope, not an actual item that you are working towards.

Once I set some specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely goals with my programs I noticed a few things:

  • I began to work with a higher degree of confidence and purpose
  • My day to day tasks became less mundane and more specific to a given hoped for outcome
  • In general I worked with more passion
  • Tasks were completed ahead of time and in general my affiliate program began to see a lift in sales and my affiliates noticed a distinct change in my behavior

All this lead to higher performance for my program, more recognition inside my organization, more career advancement opportunities and I really started to enjoy my job on a level I hadn’t before.

Are you using SMART Goals?   Are you finding yourself doing more busy work than actually reaching higher and higher?  I’d love to hear from you.

SMART Goals, and a corresponding item called KPI’s, are things we go over in module 2 of the MyAffiliateCoach Affiliate Manager Coaching and Mentoring program.  If you are interested in learning more about these items and more, please contact us at