Is Your Marketing Plan Actually Planless?

We owe it to our teams, to our creative partners, to our companies and to ourselves to not just hand out maps, but to mark out destinations on those maps, not being afraid of specifics.

Maps do really incredible things: 

  1. They give context to a physical place
  2. They allow for accurate measurements
  3. They warn of obstacles (or reveal opportunities)
  4. They amplify the important


Map with No Destination

But too often, we who lead creative teams give out maps, but define no destination. I’ve seen this in macro: a company handing out employee handbooks that give them a view of the landscape, but don’t define a destination for that specific employee or even the company as a whole. I’ve also seen this in micro: on a project, we often tell our employees what the deliverables should be, but don’t tell them what success really looks like. That’s like suggesting they take a road trip, properly equipped and prepared with all the necessities to make the journey, but not knowing where they should arrive and what time they need to be there by.


Weak Planning

High-level vision statements are great, but they need to be specific. High-level campaign visions are great, but they ALSO need to be specific. Imagine if you were supposed to attend an out-of-state wedding and the invitation said: Please join us to celebrate sometime in June in Seattle. That gives us a good idea of what to expect and when to expect it, but no one will be able to attend without a date and time or an address. Even if all the invites had the date and time on them but no address, guests would be flying in from all over the country to only wander around the vastness of a major city, no specific destination defined.


Craft a Specific Plan

One of the worst ad agency vision statements I’ve ever heard went something like this: “Grow our client’s businesses while exceeding their expectations and make waves in the advertising industry.”

Here’s why it’s terrible: first, it’s all completely subjective. Second, it’s all remarkably fluffy. Seems to me that agencies are getting soft and not wanting to dry a line in the sand.

“We exist to grow each of our client’s businesses by at least 5% annually and exceed their expectations by always over-delivering on the creative options, due date and cutting response times in half while making waves by winning more new clients than any other agency in our city this year.” Are all those things achievable? Maybe, maybe not but it’s specific. It’s a map that has destinations marked out on it.

No one likes being lost. It’s a terrible, frightening, frustrating, exhausting experience to be lost.

Lost No More

We owe it to our teams, to our creatives, to our companies and to ourselves to not just hand out maps, but to mark out destinations on those maps, not being afraid of specifics.

– – –