Originally published in the Boulder Daily Camera and the Longmont Daily Times-Call.

Priorities are what we do.  Not what we say we’re going to do.

Dad used to point this out to me on a regular basis. I usually responded with an eye roll. But I knew he was right. For years I said I wanted to run the Bolder Boulder.  He was always ready, being an avid and dedicated runner.  Finally, he challenged me to stop talking about it.  I was overwhelmed, but really did want to accomplish the goal.  And, we did for many years.

While the Bolder Boulder is different this year, I’m reminded of years past. April was always time to roll up our sleeves, lace up our running shoes, and work on the identified priority of finishing the entire course together, at a run, without stopping. To accomplish this, I needed help. Sometimes a lot of help.  Dad would set out key performance indicators (KPIs) to get me there, and I would check them off to the best of my ability.  Without that prep work, I wouldn’t have been able to complete the entire 10K course at a run.

It’s pretty basic. Set your priorities, do your priorities. However, a lot of people get hung up on talking rather than doing. For me, it was 6.2 miles.  I wasn’t sure I could run that far.  But, working on my KPIs I found that not only could I do it, I could enjoy it.

I commonly see this when working with clients on their communication and marketing needs.  A disconnect frequently exists between what they say is important and what they actually do to accomplish desired goals.

Consider your current communication and marketing efforts.  Are you accomplishing what you want to in this arena?  If so, great.  Keep at it.  But, if you aren’t, then you probably need to take a clearer look at your goals.

Have you formalized KPIs for your communication planning?  Formulating effective indicators will ensure that you are on the road to success.  Your indicators should form concrete ways to track your progress.  They should be realistic.  A solid KPI isn’t, for example, to increase your customer base.  However, in an effort to increase your customer base, you may identify a KPI that says that you will reach out to a certain number of your current customers to identify why they do business with you. You might hold focus groups, conduct surveys, or touch base over coffee.  You may form a KPI around what you find out from your inquiries.

Another KPI might be to review your marketing plan to ensure that it is up to date.  Set a deadline so that you do it.  If you don’t have a plan, consider a KPI that says you will develop a plan. Make it challenging, but doable.  Then watch your progress as you move forward.

For the Bolder Boulder, one of my KPIs was to be able to run seven miles at least once during the months of April and May.  In this way, I knew that I could finish a 6.2-mile jaunt. This indicator, and others, ensured that on Memorial Day I would be successful and enjoy the time with my Dad.

Begin by thinking about what you really hope to accomplish in terms of your communication and marketing. Break out details. Consider the resources you will need.  Perhaps you need outside expertise to help you identify KPIs to get there. The key is to look at what you are actually doing opposed to what you hope to achieve.

Remember, your priorities are what you do.  Not what you say you will do.

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