Sometime around the turn of the century strategic planning got kicked to the curb. Many organizations felt it was faster to shoot from the hip. Maybe it was the belief that planning can only be done by the highest executives in the mists of Mount Olympus. Mere mortals simply don’t do strategic planning. Or maybe people stopped doing it because there wasn’t an iPhone app for it.
The past few years have changed a lot of minds. It doesn’t matter if it’s a meeting or event, business objectives, corporate communications, or marketing – a simple strategic plan dramatically increases speed, efficiency and reduces mistakes.
“Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler” – Einstein
Thinking strategically means figuring out how to get the results we want. That’s it. You don’t need tons of data and processes to begin strategic planning about communication, marketing or events. You just have to start as early as possible.
Put all the tactics and execution on hold. They are important but not yet. That incredible, valuable, actionable content your customers, clients and audiences yearn for comes from planning, not execution.
There isn’t any long-term planning anymore
Make it fast and in the moment – like speed dating. Think in terms of months and not years. Effective strategy is fluid – how to change what you have to get what you want. Content drives creative but you have to plan first. Here’s a simple three-point process to get you started.
Point A – Where are you now?
• How did you get here?
• Who are the customers/clients/audiences who brought you to this point?
• Is it where you want to be?
Point B – Where do you want to be?
• What are the results or changes you need to generate?
• What are the things you can control?
• Who are the people you must inform, convince and motivate to get you there?
• When is the best moment for the changes to happen?
This is the part where most of us freak out and the process goes off the rails. Strategic planning takes decisions and someone has to be responsible. Step up, make choices and get things moving.
How do you get from Point A to Point B?
• What will it take to generate the results or make the changes?
• Does it make sense?
• Do you have the right customers/clients/audiences?
• What is the least amount of information these people need to do what you want them to do?
• What are the best ways to communicate it?
• Can you actually pull it off?
• What’s the payoff in terms of revenue, growth, profitability, adoption, morale and sustainability?
Now you can kick the tactics and execution into high gear because you have a direction, plan and know what results you need. Plus you have ways to measure ROV, ROI and ROE.
Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan
The beauty of strategic planning is anyone can do it. Think small and short term. Think collaboration with a tight, focused team. Instead of a massive, convoluted master plan it’s better to have a number of smaller, overlapping plans. The minute something changes or you learn new information about those key people involved – rethink the plan.
Good strategic plans are dynamic, organic and flexible. They allow you to adapt to changes in your business, audiences and the marketplace. Instead of shooting from the hip you are tossing lightning bolts.
That sounds like a plan!
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