How To Create A Plan That’s Ready For Anything
Updated: 6 days ago
One of our most popular offerings is our “Ready For Anything” Virtual Planning Workshop. Clients love that it models best practices in virtual collaboration, they totally see the value in the customized professionally facilitated plan delivered at the end of it, but we keep hearing the same question, “How can you make a plan that’s ready for anything and what does that look like?”
Why do we need to expect the unexpected?
With an ordinary plan, when circumstances change, the original plan is no longer viable and momentum stops—whether with a whimper or a crash—and your brand becomes frozen in indecision. Alternatively, you might feel pressure to react to the change before you fully understand it, causing your message to offend or come across as tone deaf. Negative social media feedback from ill-advised reactions can be swift and brutal. And lost revenue opportunities from misreading your changed audience can be painful.
Although the pace of change has been accelerating over the past 10 years, we’ve become accustomed to annual planning, sometimes with a mid-year re-evaluation and regroup. You’d think we would have become better at executing on-the-fly pivots, but we certainly weren’t ready for the chaos of 2020 with its dizzying new cycles, changing customer needs, disinformation, political and social unrest, economic uncertainty, and deadly pandemic. We’re all on edge, and our organizations—every single one of them—are reeling from the whiplash of rapidfire change that has upturned even the most careful planning.
With “Ready for Anything” processes baked into your marketing, your team learns new tools for staying vigilant and attuned to the possibility of change at all times. So when part of your plan becomes out-of-date or inappropriate, you can turn the page and pivot towards your alternate course of action without missing more than a couple of beats. Your team knows what’s expected, management has already approved the plan, so you can forge ahead without losing ground or customer trust, even during crisis.
But how do you know what’s coming next?
You don’t need to be a fortune teller. But you do need to constantly scan your customers, and the industry news, and your data for anomalies—outlier events that break the current flow. A back eddy could be a temporary swirl of activity or, if it gains momentum, become a current of change that pushes aside expected beliefs and actions and gradually becomes the new flow. Either way, you’ll be ready.
Martha Gorbis, Executive Director of the Institute for the Future (IFTF) describes these early indicators, these back eddies, as signals of coming change and warns that “...systematic thinking about the future is absolutely essential for helping people make better choices today.” She goes on to say, “We view short-termism as the greatest threat not only to organizations but to society as a whole.”
Astute, alert marketers can spot these signals before mere mortals do, which allows them to anticipate trends, pivot strategies and tactics, strengthen bonds with key customers, begin appropriate product enhancements, re-direct marketing budgets, and find themselves exactly in the right place at the right time before the competition even gets a whiff of the change. Positioned to monitor current industry news and armed with powerful measurement tools, marketing is equipped to inform process changes, adjust messaging, and lead the rest of your organization into the future.
What signals should we be looking for? It could be a small thing, like a suddenly popular keyword popping up on your website statistics, a piece of industry news that inspires an innovation, or a series of complaints from customer service that, if caught early, can be addressed directly with customers before it blows up on social media.
We help your team build the unique skills you’ll need to become a future-ready marketer in our “Ready for Anything” workshops, which, in addition to sound marketing guidance from our seasoned team of marketing gurus, includes customized advice for responding to the threats and challenges which will continue to roll through our lives in the years to come.
If the crisis requires remote collaboration, you’ve already prepared your staff to operate efficiently and brilliantly from home.
If the crisis comes from severe budget cuts, you’ve prioritized your initiatives and can switch gears quickly.
If the crisis involves a competitive threat, you’ve got it covered, because your new marketing plan involves nurturing customer communication and focusing on relationships, where you’re likely to get wind of changing customer needs and market trends. You’re already working with your product staff to add features and functionality that customers are asking for. You have social posts ready to go on your new initiatives, and an ad campaign poised to release about your new update or policy change, which will muffle your competitor’s news in days.
If the crisis comes from scandal or adverse press, you have built a deep reserve of trust-building actions into your plan that will help reinforce customers’ belief that you’re “one of the good guys who made a mistake” rather than an evil, greedy corporate monster that should be boycotted.
And if events require addressing the crisis itself because your audience needs reassurance or fresh news, there’s a section in your plan that gives examples of how to respond in ways that allay fear and reinforce your commitment to customer relationships above all else.
What keeps you up at night?
If the type of crisis you’re worried about isn’t covered here, please get in touch. We want to know what’s weighing on your mind, so we can build solutions into your 2021 marketing plan that will make your organization more resilient, while positioning marketing as the voice of reasoned action and continuity.
Best news of all: you may find that our virtual planning workshop costs far less than your past in-person planning events, so don’t hesitate to ask for a proposal.
InfiniteEdge is a consultancy of marketing and culture experts that helps companies build trust and navigate today’s rapidly evolving market environment. Invite us in to help you transition your marketing operation from reactive to responsive and develop a roadmap to help you thrive through the coming unknown.
LUMAN is an agency with a proven framework for supporting you and your team in transforming your culture, specifically in your transition from office-centered to virtual and remote. They are experts in virtual collaboration, planning for change, inspiring innovation, and gaining alignment towards a common purpose.