The twelve month marketing plan vs. real agency life
Over the last few years, I’ve worked on several campaigns where the objectives and/or the budgets shifted substantially between the insight and planning process and execution. In some cases, we were communicating to a different audience, or with a different message, or with a quarter of the original budget.
How can you build anticipating that kind of change into preparing a comms campaign? Or into outlining (via, of course, the medium of excel) exactly what work the agency is going to be doing for the next twelve months?
Both insightey Account Planning and the newer kid on the block Channel Planning tend to be upfront activities. You work out who you need to be talking to, what you need to have a conversation with them about and where the best places to do this would be. Then you charge into creative development, the digital guys start doing complicated things with code and media is booked. Only then will the client email to tell you that the goalposts have shifted. Rather a lot.
It’s not (normally) the client’s fault. Large (and small) organisations have to react to what the economy, their competitors and the market are doing. But pulling together a communications campaign still takes time and if client marketing budgets continue to be allocated months in advance its very tempting to write an annual marketing plan showing exactly how the budget will be spent. Except it won’t, because by month four everything will probably have changed. Which is a recipe for wasting client’s (and agencies) money.