Reinvention: Not Just for the New Year

Throw Away Your Annual Strategic Plan and Think Short Term

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Darryl Ohrt
Darryl Ohrt
Plenty of agencies, brands and people are taking a good hard look at who they are. And who they want to be. And assessing goals. Because that's what everyone believes you're supposed to do at the beginning of the year.

Why stop in January? Our lives move at internet speed, yet many only put together their business, marketing and financial plans on an annual basis. Why don't we throw the one-and three-year plans in the garbage, and commit to quarterly plans instead?

Our world will change tremendously over the next year, and there are very few people in the world that can accurately predict what the market will be like by the end of 2010. Would you have guessed that Facebook would have received more visits than Google on Christmas day at the beginning of 2009? The world is changing too fast for us to make concrete annual plans.

Let's look at what we expect to accomplish in Q1 and Q2. And set some challenging goals. Then, at the end of Q1, let's re-assess Q2, and put together Q3 goals. And so on, and so on. In today's climate, planning for business on a quarterly basis makes so much more sense than on an annual basis.

As smaller agencies, we're able to make decisions faster, move faster, and adapt to the landscape faster than any of the giant behemoths. Business, marketing and strategic plans make fantastic sense -- but let's be careful about getting too far, setting things in concrete and getting stuck on a track that doesn't make sense by year end.

Here's four things you can do quarterly to get your 2010 off to a mondo start:

1. Reinvent your brand. No matter how awesome your brand is, chances are it could use a dusting. Even the biggest, baddest and most recognized brands fine tune every once in a while. As small agencies, it's even more important for us to be on top of our game. We'll be reinventing our firm's brand in a spectacular way in the oncoming weeks.

2. Revisit your operations. It's amazing how many companies do things "because that's the way it's always been done." Things that typically frustrate your employees aren't likely pay related. Chances are there are little bugs in your system that need cleaning, reworking and rethinking. Your clients will thank you, too.

3. Re-enlist your employees. It's never a bad time to start sharing more with your employees. We've found an open-book policy, an open-management philosophy and a general willingness to be open about what's happening pays off tenfold. It sounds like common sense, but I'm always surprised at how many companies operate on a need-to-know basis. Even if you've never done this before, sit down with your team and let them know what's going on. The little things. The good things. The bad things. They'll be on your team like never before.

4. Reinvent your social self. How are your social streams linked? Should they be? Are you using all of your tweet streams to their full advantage? Audiences for Facebook, Linked In and Twitter have matured dramatically in 2009, and what worked in January isn't necessarily the best practice for early 2010. Be sure that you have the right voice in the right place, at the right time.

The business world of 2010 requires more than an annual check up. Thanks to the wondrous social-media tools we live and breathe by, our world is constantly evolving. Our business, strategic and brand plans should as well. We'll be fine tuning our plan throughout the new year, and paying close attention to the four points above. Here's to a healthy 2010 and may the small agencies rock the world!

Darryl Ohrt is a former punk rocker, the founder of creative agency Plaid and chief contributor to the greatest blog in all of the land, BrandFlakesForBreakfast. While his business card says he's "band manager" for the agency, Darryl prefers to call himself an internetologist. Darryl knows just enough to be dangerous. He's on the internet right now, playing, investigating and exploring. Watch out.
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