This week, I have been thinking about thinking. New thinking, to be exact. In the inevitable way that the calendar shift to December makes “It’s almost the new year!” roll off the tongue, this week has been filled with planning, planning and more planning.
I may be unusual, but one of things that I like most about planning for a new year is the opportunity to look at what we’re doing and ask “If I was starting all over with this, is this the mix of strategies and tactics I would propose? Why or why not?” One of my clients referred to it as “taking all of the blocks out of the box.” Would you just re-arrange the same blocks, or do you throw them all out and get a whole new set?
While some may groan at the prospect of starting over, I enjoy the opportunity. And I’m especially grateful when a client invites us to take a fresh approach. To me, that’s a large part of what keeps my job challenging and fulfilling. In my younger days, I fulfilled this need for new by packing up my car and moving to a new state every few years. In my somewhat older and wiser years (and because I have a child who loves where she lives), I channel that need into my work. I’m not alone: one of this agency’s greatest strengths is that even with clients we’ve had for years, we never rest on our laurels, but rather strive for improvement every day. December just gives us an added reason… and a looming deadline.
So, I’d like to challenge you to take a look at your box of communications blocks – go ahead and take them out and play with them for a while. And while you’re stacking, think about these three things:
- Are there external issues impacting your audience? An obvious one would be the economy and its impact on your audience and messaging. Even if you aren’t selling anything, there may be impacts to consider. For instance, loss of jobs means no commuting back and forth to work. For The Clean Air Campaign – which focuses on getting commuters out of the habit of driving alone – that impacts their target audience, but in a very different way than a company selling luxury goods.
- Are you fully leveraging the social media space? And are you doing it in coordination with your traditional marketing? So much has changed, and so quickly, that many companies and organizations are either struggling to keep up or starting up multiple social media tactical projects (two Facebook pages, three Twitter feeds, a couple of blogs and a LinkedIn Group.) without consideration for integration into other established communications strategies. No matter what you do – or don’t do – in the social space, the bottom line is that all of these channels and tactics will be most successful if they are looked at holistically: you get a bigger bang for the buck, and your audience gets a consistent message online and offline.
- Speaking of offline, have you forgotten the value of good, old-fashioned grassroots programs? Sure, social is the shiny new thing, but don’t dismiss the value of a more human approach to communications. Those Rotary Club speaking engagements, coffee shop bulletin boards and local event sponsorships may still be valuable, depending on your audience and your goals. We love the immediacy, anonymity and power provided by the digital world, but even the biggest tech geek needs some face-to face connection time. If they didn’t, TweetUps wouldn’t exist.
Did this get you thinking about thinking? I hope so – playing with blocks can be fun at any age.