17 Aug 2012

Lack of Planning Costs You Money

Ready. Fire. Aim. Nahhhh, that’s too cliché. Throw it at the wall and see what sticks? Ummmm, a little too graphic. How about this: Let’s play it by ear. Ever used any of these phrases when implementing a project or initiative? If so, it probably costs you more than it should have.

The phrase strategic planning is thrown around haphazardly with little regard to the positive impact it can and does have on small business. Large corporations see the value in strategic planning and make it a priority to set aside time for it. There are even strategic planning retreats for executives where they travel, usually to a very nice resort, to get away from the office, its distractions and the stress. This is a very smart approach for firms. They even plan for the planning session!

So small businesses don’t usually approach planning like large companies do, obviously. Most of the small business firms I work with are too busy directing their efforts on short-term goals like revenue, profit and expense management, which are obviously very important topics. But, a quick strategic planning session for simple and everyday projects could really be beneficial, not just in the alleviation of stress, but real hard dollars.

As a Denver advertising agency, I have seen several examples of how a company spends their money frivolously. Whenever a new project comes Encite’s way, I put forth a proposal for my client that lays out the procedures we follow to ensure a successful project. The proposal outlines the scope, expectations, timelines and, of course, a cost. This isn’t a new and novel idea since many marketing agencies incorporate the same formula. This proposal doubles as a strategic plan for them so they don’t spend more than they should. I do this for them, not only has a courtesy, but so I don’t spend more time on a project that is needed. This planning saves me money as well. In addition, this helps to alleviate any misunderstanding between Encite and our client, which can lead to frustration, aggravation and resentment. Those misunderstandings could then lead to a lack of trust. And in the marketing and advertising business, if my clients don’t trust us, we’ve lost them.

Every once in a while a client has a project where they wants us to work on an hourly basis. This is where it can get tricky. Since most companies don’t plan how this project is going to work, they throw parameters at you of what they want without taking into consideration the overall brand, brand image, promise and corporate identity. In addition, they don’t identify a basic structure on who is championing the project, supplemental contributors, timelines and approval processes. This is where companies can really see an increase in costs. Recently, I worked on a small creative and design project with a current client. They didn’t have any plan in place in regards to creative direction, project participants and the ultimate decision-making. This lead to several rounds of proofs going back and forth between us. So ultimately, a project that should have taken 2-3 hours ended up ballooning to 8-10 hours. This is a real cost issue. The project could have been planned much better with just a 30-minute session between project participants. 30 minutes compared to an additional 7 hours of billable work by me.

Is a 30 minute strategic planning session worth saving potentially thousands of dollars? It’s obvious, isn’t it?

–Adam O’Leary, President


Adam is a graduate of Colorado State University (bachelor’s degree in marketing), and he has experience on both the client and agency side of the marketing world. These experiences led him to come up with a unique, more efficient business model, which he’s incorporated into Encite Marketing. Adam sets the strategic direction for all Encite projects, developing integrated marketing campaigns that bring results. He takes a consultative approach with clients, educating them about how the process works, and keeping them in the loop about end goals, steps, and tasks.