The Long and Short of it: Strategic Planning

The Long and Short of it: Strategic Planning

During a recent meeting with a client and would-be partner, the topic of planning came up, specifically, the advantages of implementing strategic long-term plans versus investing in short-term solutions.

The discussion focused on the point that unlike typical short-term ventures that produce fleeting outcomes, long-term planning can open the way for significant, lasting results. But really, both types of strategic planning are important.

Putting in place long-term initiatives is a great way to lay out the steps and costs involved in meaningful promotional campaigns whose impact may be felt during the coming months or even years. But jumping into appropriate short-term opportunities also can have a substantial impact on a company’s goals, if, that is, allowances for the opportunities are built into a firm’s long-term agenda. By proactively setting a course for long-term forward movement, while retaining the flexibility to react to unexpected but worthwhile short-term opportunities, companies can reap the benefits of both.

While long-term planning requires a careful review of a firm’s goals and resources, plus a measure of foresight, the time and effort put into the process can go a long way in maximizing the effectiveness of money spent on promotional campaigns and the response to the initiatives, including programs that build on each other.

Here, proactively planning a company event, for instance, with an attention to pre-, day-of and follow-up traditional and social media outreach, creates a multi-level program, where each layer adds to the venture’s effectiveness. Including the ability to stretch the campaign further through established allowances for unanticipated opportunities, like a newly available corporate sponsorship that arose from the campaign’s scope, can heighten the venture’s outcome in valuable, albeit reactive, ways, without straining a firm’s finances.

Consider, as well, the strategic layout of a year-long advertising campaign with a premier media outlet, for instance. Through the established schedule of advertisements, a firm’s visibility would be sure to increase by way of the campaign’s consistent, repeated messaging to target audiences during a dedicated period, an initiative that’s likely to inspire client-confidence in the brand and where it stands. Likewise, setting aside funds for something like the ability to take advantage of a suddenly discounted, prime advertisement spot in a relevant publication—perhaps a back-cover placement on a program distributed at a popular industry event—can put a company in the spotlight in a significant way, adding to a firm’s promotional reach without the worry of incurring unexpected costs for the effort.

Absent of long-term planning, many companies are left with an on-the-fly approach to their promotional strategy, where random opportunities typically result in disconnected short-term exposure at relatively high costs with minimal benefits. Worse, disjoined efforts sometimes leave key audiences feeling more confused than confident about a brand and how it could support their aims. Still, long-term approaches that don’t provide space or money for reactive, short-term ventures, miss out on potentially noteworthy investments that either stand on their own or, better yet, work with established promotional programs.

When it comes effective and fiscally smart strategic promotional campaigns, the long and short of it is, two approaches are better than one.