As with most things in life, the key to success in business is often proper planning. But what does that look like for an integrated marketing firm?
We know our clients are busy this time of year with too many internal planning meetings to count—whether that’s updating the product roadmap, allocating resources or scoping out the budget. While an annual planning meeting with the marketing agency may seem like just one more thing to pile on a calendar, it’s actually the foundation of a strong client-agency relationship.
Since our agency provides integrated marketing services, everything we do should be—for obvious reasons—integrated. But our efforts should also be in alignment with our clients’ goals. For this reason, we start every new business relationship with a series of kickoff meetings to make sure everyone’s on the same page. The insight we gain from these meetings is vital to developing marketing strategies that will achieve the results our clients are looking for.
These types of meetings can’t be reserved for new relationships though, which is why we insist on holding half-day planning sessions with our clients at least once or twice a year. Our clients are in dynamic industries and are constantly innovating, so it’s important to get all the key players in the same room on a regular basis.
Planning is about thinking critically, not creating a checklist
The challenges don’t stop, however, once the meeting is scheduled. Sometimes the concept of “annual planning” seems too daunting or clients aren’t willing to commit a full year to paper. We understand that things change, and something planned eight or 12 months out may not happen, but going through the process of thinking critically about the year ahead is more important than making sure everything put on the calendar sticks.
With annual planning, we’re less concerned with the details about everything that’s taking place in the coming year and more focused on identifying themes that can be applied to the calendar and help focus our efforts. It all goes back to the concept of truly integrated marketing. We want to make sure that our content development, digital marketing, design, social media and public relations efforts are all working together to tell a particular story about a client’s brand.
While a marketing plan for the year ahead may outline blog topics, which awards and speakerships to apply for, what editorial calendar opportunities are available and the product announcements that need to be made, it should do more than that. The annual plan is not a checklist of all the “stuff” that needs to get done, but rather a framework for how to approach the days and months to come.
With the proper planning—and a highly skilled team of marketers—we can achieve great things. So here’s to 2017, may it be a year of strategy and of success!