The Best Laid Plans

by Susan Murphy

shutterstock_67878703I’ve spoken here before about the importance of having a strategy in place before diving head first into any project – whether it’s a video, a web site or a social media plan. Laying out the path of what you want to achieve and how you’re going to get there is vitally important.

But there’s a second part to it. We’ve all heard the famous expression by the poet Robbie Burns, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” It’s true. Sometimes all the planning in the world doesn’t yield the expected results. In my experience, plans that “go awry” often do so, not because they were poorly planned, but because they were poorly implemented.

Jen and I work with many clients on strategy. Our clients goals range widely – one client may want to increase sales leads via social media. Another needs to connect with a specific audience using training videos. We will work with them to clearly outline a strategy – defining measurable goals and objectives, laying out specific tactics to achieve each, and setting out operational requirements, resourcing and timelines. In the end, our clients are happy and we’re satisfied with a job well done. But in some cases, that’s where the work stops short. We’ve had situations where clients happily walk away with their strategy, thinking that they will be able to take the instruction and advice we’ve provided and make a go of it on their own, only to be stopped in their tracks when they realize they don’t really have the time, experience, or even the inclination to fully implement what we’ve helped them to develop.

There are many cases where going it alone isn’t always the best approach. I’m not saying that there aren’t plenty of things people can do to put the wheels in motion on their own strategies – on the contrary. Strategies NEED to be developed with a keen eye towards what the client can do on their own to be successful with it. But often, once the client gets moving with the implementation, the reality of the actual level of effort, experience, or technical knowledge required to fully implement solutions and get results sets in and things can start to derail.

One thing we pride ourselves on is that we’re always on the level with our clients. We take great care in first of all, coming up with goals that are not only clear, but are manageable within the constraints (financial, resourcing, or otherwise) of the organization we’re working with. We ensure that timelines and resources are clearly defined with the appropriate contingencies built in. However, once push comes to shove and the implementation work begins, people often realize how much work is really involved. They realize that maybe they don’t have all the in-house skill sets necessary to complete the tasks within their timeline and budget.

The reality of implementation is, even the “best laid plans” can become cumbersome once the work gets underway.

If you’re thinking about engaging a media or marketing company to help you develop a strategy, seriously consider the full scope of the relationship you want to have with that company. Begin with the end in mind. What is the capacity of the company to not only help you define your goals and develop your strategies, but to help you implement those strategies too? And how can you budget towards that?

Strategy and implementation work is an ongoing process. Engage with those companies who can see you through from beginning to end, and your “best laid plans” will not be in vain.

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