- What's the plan?
- New plan!
- Is that your plan?
- I need a plan!
- Do you even have a plan?
"Plan"... it's one of those words that either gives you a headache (if you are one of those spontaneous, intuitive, play-it-by-ear types), or gives you a sense of familiarity and comfort (if you tend to be more structured and process-driven).
No matter your personality though, it is hard to deny the value of a well thought out plan - be it a budget, a blue print, or an instruction manual. Sure, it may be a fun adventure to throw planning to the wind when taking off on a last minute weekend excursion, but when you are truly lost, a road map is very handy to help you get back on track.
There has been a lot written lately about how certain leaders and executives make a deliberate point of removing small choices (ie: deciding what to wear) from their day so that they can free up brain space for big, important decisions. Having a plan works in a very similar fashion. If the multitude of little decisions are already made, then prime thinking and working time can be spent on more valuable areas such as solutions, results, and impacts.
Let's take a very easy example - one we're all familiar with. Say you want to have a party. Even for the most casual, informal, laid-back gathering, you will need to have some sort of plan to transform your idea into reality. At the most basic level, you need to determine a date and time (whether that is months in advance, or in 2 hours time) and you need to invite people. It might simply be sending a quick text message ("Beer's cold! My house, after work!"), but it is still an activity that needs some thought. Without that, you have a very sad little lonely party of one. Extra beer for you, perhaps, but a lot less conversation.
Now, take something a little more complex. Let's pretend you are hosting a larger dinner party. Maybe it's a holiday dinner. This takes planning to a higher level. You need to plan for advance preparation, and you need to properly stage the meal - none of your guests want to sit in front of a dinner plate of hot mashed potatoes ready to eat while the turkey is still 2 hours away from being ready to carve. Not only do you need to plan out the timing, but you also need to plan out the allocation of the resources you have at your disposal. Your 12-year-old may not be best pastry chef in your family, but he can certainly be responsible for keeping the plates of candy refreshed. Your mother-in-law may be happily assigned the bringing-of-the-pies, but she'd be quite useless, and probably dangerous, as the bartender. And you, as head host(ess) cannot possibly deal with the last minute running around (more ice!) and issues (blown fuse!) at the same time as chopping and dicing and slicing - so you engage your spouse to handle those details. Yes, you CAN hold a holiday feast without planning, but it will not be pretty. It will be a memorable experience, sure... just not a happy one.
Marketing and Communications projects are usually multifaceted and often quite complex. Like the holiday meal, you can certainly embark on a marketing project without planning - but your results when doing so run the risk of facing the same disappointing finish as ordering a pizza for 20 hungry guests on Christmas Day while trying to mask it as a traditional turkey-and-trimmings meal.
Even when you do devote yourself to planning, if marketing and communications is not your core competency, you can miss critical steps in the process that will make a difference to the final result. For example, if you invite your VIP guests to a special home-cooked gourmet meal, build up the expectations, promise them an experience worthy of the most discerning connoisseur... but have never actually attempted to cook something more elaborate than frozen waffles... your meal may not be given the top-chef seal of approval!
That's one of the reasons we here at Cyan Solutions put a lot of stock into our planning - we see it as a critical step in our process when developing solutions for our clients. We believe in taking time at the beginning of each project to think through the necessary five W's, clearly communicating them with not only our internal staff resources, but also our clients. With a clear project management methodology applied, communication flows and resources align - with all parties. Our collaborative, end-to-end approach means you can focus on other important requirements of your business while we research, strategize, create, execute, and monitor on your behalf. We want to make every experience as positive, and as memorable, as possible - we plan it that way!
What's your plan? The quickest and easiest first step could be to call Cyan. Let our plans move you further along in yours.