Many people in communications don’t like the holidays – the media have gone home after putting out their year-end double issue or have the interns running the station, subject matter experts with whom you need to talk are finally taking all that vacation time that piled up over the year and it just seems twice as hard to get anything meaningful done.
However, I’m the anti-Scrooge when it comes to the holidays, as this is one of my favorite times of year as an account director because I get to spend good, uninterrupted time with some of my favorite reading – our clients’ strategic plans for the upcoming year.
Conversations about integrated marketing often start out with the wrong question: “What can you do for us?” Our response is, invariably, “Well, what do you want to accomplish?” Any worthwhile communications plan starts with the identification of the organizational goals and objectives in which a communications function could assist, then the development of specific communications goals and objectives that help you move toward those outcomes.
That’s where the time I’m spending with 2014 plans comes into play – our clients have specific organizational goals in the upcoming year, so it’s our role to identify and plan how we’re going to help them achieve those goals with the tools at our disposal (or if we need a new toolkit to help with evolved or additional goals).
It makes for some interesting and creative discussions when people get back into the office in January, especially when it comes to operational goals that might not have a communications component on their face: “Your plan says that you want to cut time-to-market by a third for new product versions. Are there communications issues here? How are you communicating your reasoning and plans to suppliers and employees? Are you ready to talk about the improvement to your customers as a differentiator against your competitors? Do you think there’s a white paper to be had, or a presentation at an industry trade show?”
So, when everybody else is curled up by the fire or trying to figure out how their six year-old is so much better at this new Madden game than they are, spare a thought this holiday season for those of us who are spending more time with sales support collateral planning than post-Christmas sales.