The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (and how to make it even better)

Pretty lights, parties and presents are great. But that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about how right now is the time for one of my favorite things: PLANNING.

Wait – that doesn’t sound exciting to you? Why not?

“There’s so much we don’t know – any plans will probably be a guessing game.”

If that’s what you think, here’s some good news: A thorough communications audit can eliminate the guesswork. A deep dive into your website, blog and social media platforms can tell you a lot about what you’ve said, which messages attracted the most attention and how far they were extended through sharing. The audit will also highlight messages you should be communicating, but aren’t. You’ll see where and when your most successful efforts took place. Your SEO/SEM numbers can give you a sense of whether you need to bolster or reinforce your position as an authority. And let’s remember that you probably have established strategic goals for the year; you can (and should) align your communications accordingly.

“Our business evolves constantly – we can’t plan a whole year ahead.”

We get it. The day you announce a new product, you’re in the process of developing its successor. Your top service may be selling very well – until the day when a new government regulation turns the delivery model on its head. So, it seems like the only constant is your need to be flexible. But you can still create a tactical plan. the variability of your business need not derail communications. Sure, your market conditions may change, but certain constants still exist – and your brand remains consistent. Skip the communications plan and you could squander your chance to assert leadership. Plan now, then re-examine and adjust every quarter (or even every month for some businesses), and even a major, unforeseen event won’t be able to throw you off course.

“Setting a year-long calendar of communications now will crush our creativity.”

Not a chance. In fact, with a well-defined editorial calendar of holidays, product releases, communication events and other significant dates, you’ll find that your communications can be more creative than ever. Take a cue from Tony, Oscar and Grammy Award-winner, Stephen Sondheim, who asserts that if you tell him to write a song, that’s hard. But tell him to write a song about a woman in a red dress who walks into a room, drenched from the rain, wearing only one shoe – that’s easy. Use known business expectations and upcoming events to define your plan. Then, when you’re under the gun to publish a new blog post or update your LinkedIn advertising, you’ll already have cues in place to spark fresh, creative ideas.

“It’s December already – we’re out of planning time.”

Don’t feel like you have to do it all yourself. Let a professional help you (hint: we do this with many of our clients). Then, while competitors are stressing with reactive, ad-hoc communications, you’ll be saying the right things at the right time, all year long.

And that’s wonderful.