Plan, plan, plan—and then adapt
Ask anyone who knows me, and they'll probably tell you I'm a planner. Like many people, I like to know as much as possible about what's coming next so I can be prepared—and be prepared to act swiftly if the plan changes. This comes in especially handy as Q4 ramps up, and we begin thinking about strategies for our clients for the coming year.
Here are a few things we’re thinking about when it comes to brainstorming and planning for the year ahead:
Don’t lose momentum. You’ve probably spent quite a bit of time building momentum to build awareness for your company—from the brand itself to executives’ thought leadership expertise. Make sure to take time to evaluate the activities you’ve leveraged to understand if they have been successful; understand why they have been successful; and understand how to ensure continued success.
For example, many of our clients have spent the past few years gearing up to help their customers with the ICD-10 implementation, only to have the implementation delayed again, and again. The important thing for them has been to make sure they don't lose traction on the work they’ve been doing. It’s been an opportunity for them to expand thought leadership beyond that topic and also allowed them to be creative to continue making the topic relevant in the interim.
Think outside the box. Just because you haven’t done it before, doesn’t mean you can’t do it now. Take social media for instance. Just a few short years ago, it was new, uncharted territory, especially for B2B companies. Today, with #hashtags and ongoing conversations, social media is a valuable place for companies to raise awareness, build thought leadership and reach new audiences.
Consider how you can expand your online presence by creating a YouTube channel and present thought leadership through video rather than a written blog post. Once posted, you can then share that link across multiple platforms. You could also consider hosting contests through social media to engage your target audiences.
Be flexible and agile. Even the best laid plans can change in an instant. An important part of planning is making sure your plans are nimble enough to react to changes. We often share the example of cruise ships and a speed boats when we talk about planning campaigns. While it’s important to have clear, long term goals supported by foundational activities to forge ahead like a cruise ship, it's also essential to have quick, more tactical strategies in your plans that can easily be updated and maneuvered to ensure relevance and timeliness, in relation to the larger goals at hand. When you’re so focused on bigger activities, sometimes it’s harder to react to environmental changes—whether it’s an industry regulation change or a new sales goal — and “speed boat” campaigns will allow you to more easily update messaging while still sharing that messaging as originally planned.
Dwight D. Eisenhower is known for saying, “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable,” and I think I have to agree. A strong, foundational plan can help set the stage for success, even if the end goals change as projects progress. As long as you’ve developed flexible plans, they can go a long way in helping prepare for success.
What do you think? Have you started planning for the 2015, and what are you most excited about?