6 Months is the New 12: A Guide to Strategic Planning in Fast Times

April 28, 2016

For the past century, the annual plan has been the staple of every marketer’s strategic due diligence. It’s the road map for all activities going forward … the litmus test for new initiatives … the marching orders for everyone on the team … in short, the annual plan has been the bedrock beneath our feet and the North Star above our heads.

And it’s a thing of the past.

Think about it. We live in a time in which the entire competitive landscape can be turned upside down in less than a year. Cultural trends come and go in months. Entire categories are created almost overnight, while legacy brands disappear without fanfare. Not only is a 12-month plan likely to be useless after a short period of time; it can create a false sense of security that runs counter to the vigilance and agility needed to compete.

We recommend six months as the ideal planning period. While still an eternity where some things – like social media – are concerned, six months provides for a look down the road, with consideration for awareness building and behavior change – the kinds of goals that can’t be achieved in days or weeks.

Where does branding fit in? Right where it’s always been — embedded within every campaign and tactical program. Branding overlays can carry over from one calendar to the next.

Ironically, it takes just as long to craft a brilliant six-month blueprint as it does one for a full-year, so plan to plan soon for 2014.