- Our Approach
The Cranky Communicator: It's the Planning, not the Plans, That Count
A few missives ago, I humbly offered you the Five Paragraph Field Order as a simple yet powerful planning device for addressing immediate, short-turn problems. Now, I'd like to bloviate on the exercise of annual or longer-term planning. You know, share some lessons learned from the preparation of more than one hundred largely pointless and wholly ineffective long-range marketing plans.
Don't you think it odd that the man chosen to lead the invasion of Europe during Worold War II was not a brilliant strategist and tactician but a consummate administrator? Listen to and heed well what Dwight D. Eisenhower had to say:
"In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable."
Eisenhower knew that planning is more valuable than the resultant plans because it focuses one's complete attention on the mission at hand. This forces a clear statement of objectives, realistic assessment of resources, evaluation of the enemy's capabilities, etc. And he also knew that in the heat of battle, a plan was only effective until the bad guys lobbed the first artillery shell. It is the same on the marketing battlefield. If you've done a good job of planning, you'll be able to quickly adjust your plans and tactics to reach the objective when the unexpected happens.
I simply can't pass up this opportunity to share with you my pet peeve when it comes to marketing and planning. It is a most egregious offense almost exclusively committed by an advertising agency which compensates obfuscation for its supreme ignorance of their clients' products, markets, customers' motives, etc. It is the comprehensive but incomprehensible annual marketing plan which impresses the hell out of corporate VPs and divisional marketing directors but leaves product managers and sales engineers scratching their heads.
No kidding. I've seen some of these plans that are less decipherable than the score and libretto of a Wagnerian opera cycle. A non-English speaking tourist has more chance of interpreting a New York City subway map than the serpentine meanderings of the agency-produced planning diagrams and charts. In fact, the tourist has the advantage and satisfaction that with enough patience and study he will actually arrive at where he wants to be.
If you really want to learn about the advantages of effective planning, I suggest you look up the adventures of Roald Amundsen, a Norwegian explorer and the first to reach the South Pole in 1912. He won the battle to be the first versus Robert Falcon Scott (British) who lost considerably more than the competition - he lost his life. It's somehwere on the Internet. Have fun; knock yourself out.
Perhaps my next epistle will be on how to prepare an effective annual plan. Let me know if you have an interest. Otherwise, I'll find some other drivel with which to interminably bore you.