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As the summer draws to a close many organizations are entering a planning cycle. Marketing and communications professionals are faced with new channels, tools and techniques, as well as growing demands from the business and budget pressures. Here are some tips for improving the planning process:

1. Research first

Allow plenty of time for research. Look at how effective activity and budget has proved against KPIs; also look at competitor activities, client needs, new approaches and opportunities in the industry. Garner opinions internally; the team should bring research, data and ideas to the meeting.

2. Bring in fresh eyes

So much is changing in marketing and communications but it’s too easy to keep doing the same things. Start with the principle that whatever you were doing, it could be done better and more efficiently. Get different perspectives and experience in the room. Invite people from across the business and consult experts with different skills; ask how they would solve the problem. Bring in people who will challenge the status quo.

3. Build consensus

Consult participants beforehand. Explain the rationale, objectives and process. Ask individuals for feedback and input into the process. Allow them to air ideas, experience and concerns.

4. Plan regularly

Strategic reviews and planning sessions should happen regularly. Too often they become annual events.

5. Begin at the end

Start with the end goal in mind. What do you need to achieve, and what would you like to achieve, from the exercise? What is a good outcome? How will it be measured?

Time spent thinking about the business, rather than working in it, is always beneficial and doesn’t happen enough in most organizations. Plan check-ins and follow-up sessions throughout the year, and good luck.