This might sound overly simplistic, but one of the questions we keep asking ourselves (and our clients) is ‘how does this contribute to the plan?’
Our plan is a simple one that’s focused on growing our business with the right type of clients and projects. We’re clear on what type of work and client we work best with, and this clarity helps us make easy decisions about where we should spend our time and money to develop this business.
Now, we’re a small business and our philosophy is about keeping it simple, so it’s easy to execute and communicate a plan. Working backwards, we know some basic things about what we want to do:
- We want to grow our business by 8% year on year.
- To do that we need to retain some clients. (And maintain or manage their spends).
- We also need to shed some clients. (The ones that don’t fit our sweet spot).
- And we need to attract the right new clients. (The ones that fit a predetermined profile - i.e. the right type of work with the right type of client).
Each of these tasks are related and they’re all wrapped up into the headline growth objective. The senior team know how to guide and manage the processes and decisions that contribute to the target. It’s not rocket science and it’s not perfect, but it works and has done for the last 15 years. So we’re sticking with it.
I suppose the main thing is that there IS a plan. And that’s the bit that always surprises me when we meet clients that don’t seem to be working to any sort of meaningful short, medium or long-term plan. Whether it’s in brand, marketing or business in general. Or there may well be a plan, but it might be so overly complicated with charts, graphs and tracking data that any obvious or meaningful conclusions are lost.
The problems then surface within the business when the sales team are dancing to a different tune to the marketing team. Departments are siloed, politics come into play and the whole thing starts to spin out of control. The higher purpose is lost and decision making (particularly in brand) becomes subjective rather than objective.
One little trick we’ve developed to combat this challenge is what I call the 'Russian Doll' Plan. And it’s quite useful to use at the start of a project to contextualise precisely what it is that we’re being asked to do. It forces you to concede that the work is tethered to a higher objective and allows you to make more effective decisions against that larger objective.
What are we being asked to do and why?
How does this brand project contribute to a marketing plan & objectives?
How do both tie into the broader-based commercial or business objective?
They all fit into each other (The Russian Doll) and help create a virtuous circle of coherent activity which is going to work for the business. Resist the temptation to overcomplicate, or embellish with too much detail. The simpler it is, the easier it is for everyone to understand and act against.
At Good, we’re big fans of a simple plan and we love getting our sleeves rolled up to facilitate a planning session. So, if you think you could do with creating yourself a Russian Doll plan, give us a shout and we can collaborate.