Have you had an experience in which you created a solid marketing plan or campaign, then the budget was reduced or the product got delayed and the marketing plan you put so much time and effort into became useless and out-of-date? Or the business environment changed forcing you to plan all over again? Here is the irony of planning that frustrates us: we spend so much time and effort planning yet it usually does not work out the way we plan. Chaos intervenes. If we don’t plan, chaos still intervenes. It’s just a depressing lose-lose situation. Does this mean we should not plan? Frankly, planning is in our DNA. We plan our wedding, our vacations and even our days, because we recognize the benefits of planning: 1. Know what to do to accomplish end goals 2. Mitigate foreseeable chaos The truth is there is a difference between “plans” and “planning”. Planning is an active way of discussing the goals, objectives, strategies and tasks that we need to accomplish. Plans are the documentations of planning. Since things change, plans need to get updated on a regular basis. Planning is a continuous process that helps us adjust course, keep on-track and make accomplishing our goals more likely. President Eisenhower says it so poignantly, “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” Planning is the prerequisite of business success, but success is not guaranteed by planning.
Here are three take-aways:
- Planning is an active ongoing process, while plans are the documentation of that discussion at one point of a time.
- Planning aims to mitigate problems and changes, yet bear in mind that the only constant in life is change.
- Planning does not guarantee success, yet it’s absolutely necessary.
These two quotes reflect the essences of plans vs. planning.
“Have a plan, but be ready to abandon it at any moment.” – Jennifer Baichwal
“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” -Yogi Berra
So, don’t fall in love with your marketing plans. Don’t get frustrated with constant changes. It’s all part of the game. The saga of planning continues.