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The Planning Process

Stephanie Kilpatrick

Let’s talk business – we’re not talking your personal five-year life plan here. When you think about the growth of your business, most look forward to what is coming up next on the horizon; a big meeting, a marketing campaign or new opportunity. Planning is an important part of team motivation and it allows you to really steer your business in the direction you want to go, as well as manage performance.

At Creative Guild, our team looks at planning as a collaborative technique and a key strategy to drive success and meet objectives. It’s important to have a standard process in place, making all stakeholders feel secure, comfortable and even romanced (Hey, we are in a relationship here, aren’t we?).

Here are four (4) key things to keep top of mind when it comes to the planning process:

1) Get Uncomfortable

Don’t get comfortable with your agency, get uncomfortable! Step outside of your day-to-day when it comes to planning. Get into a place that’s different, because that’s what truly drives creativity and innovative thinking. During the planning phase it is critical to encourage a variety of thoughts and opinions. It isn’t always the easiest process, but it’s important to put your ego aside and be open to all kinds of ideas, as long as they keep your end goals in mind. (Let’s put a pin in that – we’ll talk about those later).

2) Be Collaborative

Here is who should be on your invite list to your planning party:

  • Key stakeholders – Having everyone in the room who is invested in what you’re planning will be helpful down the road. This ensures that everyone’s thoughts are heard from the outset, so that next steps can anticipate concerns and insights from all areas of the business. It also makes sure there are no surprises later in the project that could derail deadlines and budgets.
  • An outsider – Sometimes you can’t see what’s right in front of you because you have been starring at it for so long. Bring in an outside perspective; a team member who may not be as involved can sometimes point out the gaps or needs that you may not think exist.
  • A trusted agency team member – Someone that you can rely on to make those ‘gut-checks’ and who believes in you and your ideas. As an account manager, there’s nothing I want more than to see my clients succeed, so I will always stand up and give my opinion.

3) Set Goals

(Told you we’d get here.) Key performance indicators come in all shapes and sizes; from sales increases to click-through-rates. It’s important to set your goals and objectives. Be realistic and be confident when you’re communicating them to your boss, your agency and your internal team. Maintaining a goal-oriented mindset will help light a fire under your team members and get them excited to start working on a plan that will see these goals come to life.

4) Learn from Mistakes

Analyzing ‘What Worked’ vs. ‘What Didn’t Work’  can sound daunting at the end of a campaign, especially if you feel like more things went wrong than right. However, thinking through it, you can’t fix a problem that you don’t acknowledge. If you dig deep you are sure to gather really interesting key learnings that you will be able to look to when working through your next planning process. Work smarter, not harder.

Thoughtful planning is the first step of any successful marketing strategy. It’s actually my favourite part of any campaign – when those big ideas come through, you can feel your team light up with excitement and aspiration.

As a full-service marketing and design agency, Creative Guild leads many brand planning sessions. We always strive to ensure that key stakeholders and internal teams all feel their needs and opinions are being heard, and that everyone is on the same page and pointed in the same direction. To learn more about Creative Guild services, see our About page.

When planning is completed correctly, you will see that the overall program goes a little bit smoother because key players clearly understand the objectives and are aligned on the goals. And when it’s all said and done and you’ve already moved on to the next one, don’t forget to remind your team of the good work they contributed and the goals you achieved together. It will only make your next endeavour that much stronger. Happy planning!