How to stay in planning mode all year long
Everyone knows the traditional “brand planning season” in marketing tends to start at the end of the third quarter and carry through the end of the year. That’s when most brands have spent their current year’s budget and are optimistically planning for next year’s spending. Research, flow charts and strategy decks emerge, all bright and shiny, with a myriad of possibilities of what could be if the budget requests come through.
But planning shouldn’t be relegated to the back end of the year. Especially in the 24/7 news cycle and around-the-clock social media updating world we now live in, brands have to be five steps ahead in order to remain current.
It’s hard to find time to plan strategically when you’re knee deep in executing tactics. But the risk of pushing it off could be disastrous.
Here are some tips to keep your team in creative planning mode all year long:
- Put planning time on the calendar: In a world filled with meetings, it’s hard to think of adding yet another meeting request to someone’s email inbox. But carving out time – even 30 minutes – on a regular basis to think ahead is crucial to making it happen. If it’s not on the calendar, odds are planning will not happen on a regular basis.
- Make the meetings productive: While brainstorm sessions should be free flowing and full of creativity, get the conversation started right on time by asking the team to come prepared with one or two ideas geared towards a specific topic (i.e. what new technology trends are impacting our industry, and are we on the right track? Come to the meeting prepared to share a couple of trends you’re seeing.).
- Assign action items before the meeting ends: The worst part of a planning meeting happens when great ideas are generated, and then never followed through. This usually happens because people go back to work and get bogged down again in their day-to-day to-do list. Before the planning meeting ends, set one or two attainable goals to achieve before the next session, and assign a point person to run lead. This gives everyone on the team a part in the planning, and keeps people accountable to moving things forward.
- Subscribe to a variety of news sources: Keep yourself informed to the trends impacting your brand by subscribing to a variety of media outlets: blogs, magazines, newspapers, podcasts. To keep it manageable, narrow down the top five to ten outlets providing the most insight into your business. Keep it mixed between your industry trade news, business news and technology information. Bookmark articles you think have resonance and bring them up in your planning meetings for discussion.
At Full Circle PR, we’re constantly evaluating what’s new and what we can improve upon, as well as setting new goals for ourselves. We try to keep a standing meeting on the books when we can brainstorm where we are, and where we’d like to go.
What tips do you have to share to keep your team focused on strategic planning all year long? Do you already have a system in place to keep planning at the forefront? We’d love to hear from you! Weigh in on the comments section below.