I love year-end holidays. It starts around Thanksgiving when everyone tries to squeeze in their remaining vacation days, and continues through New Year’s Day. Offices are virtually deserted. Yesterday morning, while manning my post in the office like a good soldier, I received two emails, both from co-workers informing me they were going to work from home. Perfect.
I could fret over lost productivity, or worry about client projects not being properly serviced, but I don’t. This time of year, you couldn’t find a client with a search warrant, and every attempt to email gets an out of office response. Everyone takes this time to enjoy the holidays. This lull is my time to get busy. It’s not a frenzied bang out the work busy, more a thoughtful, calm reflection on the ghost of the business past, and a projection for business future.
The few weekdays between Christmas and New Year’s is the perfect time to review the year past, and plan for the year ahead. There are no distractions, no ringing phones, no emails, no interruptions. It is a time to review what worked well last year, what didn’t work well, and set the goals and direction for the year ahead.
It doesn’t matter if you’re an agency, or a client reviewing the previous year and planning for next year’s marketing communications. Set the grand strategic vision and the simple supporting strategies to achieve success as your first order of business.
Everyone’s first inclination is always to perform a post mortem on tactics and events rather than last year’s strategic gains or losses. Don’t. Any single tactic or event can go south: a great story that didn’t get press due to breaking news, or an email campaign that that flopped due to a bad list. Some projects will be successful, some will not. The real metric is did you advance the business towards the strategic vision?
A great plan is like an inverted pyramid. It balances on a single point: the strategic vision, a grand vision. Here’s an example:
I want my agency to be the premier content marketing firm in the region.
This is a grand statement and a worthy goal. There’s no thought of tactics at this point. You, as a leader, are looking to the horizon, not at your feet. Next come the supporting strategies to achieve the strategic vision. They must be simple and clear.
Next come the tactics to achieve the supporting strategies. There likely will be dozens of individual tactics. For this reason, tactical planning should be a team effort. Your staff is comprised of individuals with specific skill sets, experiences, and roles within the organization. Leverage these assets with their contribution and participation when the team returns after the holidays to create the tactics that will support the strategies. They will be rested, fresh, and energized by a grand vision, and their role in achieving it.