Burn Your Marketing Plans To The Ground
Burn Your Marketing Plans To The Ground
Burn Your Marketing Plans To The Ground

Okay, maybe burning all of your plans to the ground is a bit dramatic; however, this is the perfect time of year to consider striking a match or two. 2015 is staring us squarely in the face, and we’re all busy looking back at 2014, planning for the coming year, and (hopefully) crunching all of the data we can get our hands on. My hope is that your brand performed well above average this year and has some really big wins to report on. However, I urge you to take a long pause before simply modifying last year’s plans, copying/pasting those KPIs, or leaning back. This is not the time to take a break; it’s the time to break…everything. Light it up, and burn it down. Why?

Because you’re missing the big picture

Last weekend, my wife made a simple request: move the toys out of the living room. By the time the sun had risen on Monday morning, I had completely rearranged three rooms, filled up my garbage and recycling twice, and had moved my entire office across the house. Why? Because of the bigger picture. Too often, we pick up junk and move it from one place to another. We hide things under the couch or in a closet, temporarily solving the problem at hand. However, we are obviously creating, then delaying, a much larger headache. And we play this game inside our teams all of the time. We play hide-the-problem, pass-the-blame, and we’ll-deal-with-it-later. Stop. If proving ROI is the problem, don’t hide that headache; fix your data, shift your perspective, and start zooming out. (And if proving ROI is a problem you are having, SME Digital can totally help you out.) If misunderstanding the customer journey is your problem (and you might not yet realize that it is), take the time to understand your customer’s journey and find the right places to fit into it. If your marketing plan is Lego’d together so that you can’t even see the gaps and misaligned pieces, don’t keep building and hope for the best. Step back, readjust your seat, take a deep breath, and strike the match.

Because you’ll create something better

How many times have we typed something up on our computers, just to have it disappear due to any number of technological issues? It’s the worst. But after many screams, curses, and tears, we set out to write it again. And nine times out of ten, the new version is better. Burning something to the ground, whether intentionally or not, give us the opportunity to rethink, reexamine, reorganize, and re-communicate. It’s hard to know what you’re thinking and how your plan will fit together until you have everything in place the first time. Once the sticky notes are done, once the pieces have been handed in, that’s not the end; it’s just the beginning. And facing that reality is hard. Very hard. But if we recognize that starting from scratch will ultimately produce higher quality work, a more organized plan, and be supported by clearer thinking, why do we settle for second (or third or fourth) best? Because we’re not willing to do the work. And if we’re not willing to do the work, can we really expect to succeed? Do the work.

Because it’s hard

I’m not going to lie; burning your work is incredibly difficult. I spent weeks sweating over a graphic for a client that just wasn’t working. I tweaked and tweaked and tweaked, but ultimately there was no other option than hitting N and starting from scratch. But what was the alternative? A poor product, an un-WOWed client, and nothing but a checkmark to show for the work. Be willing to start over because the easy path – copying over KPIs, tweaking old objectives/strategies, plugging in half-thought-out tactics that will be fleshed out later – is actually more work in the long run. Sure, you have completed the task, but you have also set yourself up for more meetings, confusion, and misdirection later. Why? Because a weak structure will always provide weak results. Burn your marketing plans to the ground, do the hard work, and create something that is a WOW. Though it is no fun to watch your work burn, it is incredibly rewarding to watch what rises from the ashes.

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About the Author

Matt Hollowell
Matt is a lifelong student of design, marketing, publishing, and content creation. His passion sits at the intersection of content and design; in fact, you can often find him there with a cup of coffee in one hand and a notepad in the other. As SME's Creative Director, he supports both the brand and clients, which helps to satisfy his lifelong love of never knowing what's coming next. When not at his desk, you'll find Matt serenading his two amazing daughters, reading gritty British poetry, or obsessively listening to podcasts. Send him your podcast reccs here: @mhollowell.

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