Time after time

‘I love planning’ I declared in the opening statement of a job interview once, the interviewer looked at me bemused ‘no-one really loves the planning part’ he said, but I genuinely do!

The essentials of a go-to-market plan include: understanding where you are now in the perceptions of your target audience, what you need to do to change those perceptions to what you want them to be, and then setting out how you’re going to do it and by when. How you’re going to let your audience know will determine the medley of marketing channels and tactics you’ll need to complete to be successful in a particular market. The perfect mix blends the reach – being seen and heard – with being relevant, relatable and understood by the people you want to care.

The plan sets out your intentions and is your point of reference for the weeks and months to come. Having a plan is what you can fallback on when you get diverted off track reacting to your inbox or putting out fires, it can be a life saver when you’ve lost your way in a busy week. You can save its life too by keeping it up-to-date!

At work, coming up with ideas for the plan is not usually the hard part, following through and completing a plan within set timescales is much harder. Switching over to project management skills is what’s needed here.You need to understand the time, effort, budgets and resources needed to complete the plan. You need to know what success will look like and how you will be able to show evidence of it.

Even with the best of plans documented, factors outside your control may take over: crucial resources leave, budgets get reallocated, market conditions and business priorities change, other projects take priority.

Conversely, there can be a risk of over-planning. It’s important to keep the outcome in mind. A good life example of this is wedding planning, so much effort goes into that one special day, brides-to-be the world over are known to go suddenly crazy obsessive about planning! The commitment and unrelenting focus on the event details are to be admired. Actually, whether you plan the details for two months or two years the outcome is going to be the same; you will be marrying this same other person and exchanging the same vows to stay together from this day onwards for the rest of your lives, and the more details you cram into this one day doesn’t alter that. Sometimes the best use of time and resources is in understanding what the outcome needs to be and allocating both proportionately. As is knowing when you’ve done enough, and it’s time to draw a line or move onto the next plan.

When I’m on holiday, I employ the opposite of my normal characteristics – no plan at all! Not planning means going with the flow of the day to discover the hidden charms of a new place, accepting the lottery every mealtime in choosing a place to eat or drink, exploring the side streets, idling in a café or beach spot with no set timings. This is how the best memories are made, time after time.

How much time do you spend planning vs doing? How does it affect the outcome?


Song credit: Cyndi Lauper. Watch the music video.