We typically begin each year assessing business performance and needs, defining sales goals and organizing marketing campaigns and initiatives. After meeting with a variety of different stakeholders, we develop a fresh, and sometimes daunting, to-do list.
With limited time and resources, and pressure to meet immediate deadlines, we’re usually inclined to get started executing tactics right away. Skipping the vital strategic planning step may give you some wins in the short term – but may not translate to greater success in the long term.
A key component of Signal’s agile marketing philosophy is “slowing down to speed up” or “going slow to go fast.” We spend time early on thinking deeply about the big picture, scrutinizing the value of each effort and making sure the entire team is in sync. Before launching right into the more tangible creative and development tasks required for a new project, we think through and define the value each initiative will provide and how it fits in with overall business objectives.
As proof of the success “strategic slowness” offers, a Harvard Business Review study of 343 businesses showed that companies who took adequate time for deliberation and planning averaged 40 percent higher sales and 52 percent higher operating profits over a three-year period.
In the early stage of any effort, it’s important to ask a lot of questions, share ideas and discuss different perspectives and options and for the approach. At this time, large changes can easily be made to streamline and optimize campaigns and ensure time and resources are used most effectively to maximize performance.
Slowing down allows time for better, more creative solutions to emerge that may not be possible with a focus on immediate production. Going slow also helps reduce rework and confusion – which positions team members to do their best.
How to go slow
Whether considering the next year, the next campaign or the next project, this is how to lay a “slow” foundation:
- Give yourself permission to slow down. Spend whatever time is needed to properly plan and craft the strategy for each initiative. The initial time and effort spent getting everyone on the same page will be more than made up for later by allowing the team to deliver projects more quickly by avoiding rework. Slowing down now will avoid losing time later on inefficiencies, errors, miscommunication and confusion.
- Clearly define what you want to accomplish. Document the problem you are trying to solve and what impact the initiative is expected to have on the business. Review any available data to analyze the current state and develop a measurement plan to track results. Set goals and define clear expectations for each tactic to be considered throughout the project and post-launch to measure success. Estimate budgets and timelines to help prioritize resources.
- Involve the entire team. Define team roles and involve all stakeholders early on to share ideas and encourage creativity and discussion. Document key decisions to keep everyone in sync and aligned throughout the project. Whenever possible, share your project routinely with end users and incorporate their ideas and feedback.
- Be open-minded. Be creative and challenge your previous assumptions, routines and templates. In addition to considering changes in your industry, make sure to account for continually evolving marketing channels, methods and tactics. Ensure that each effort stands out and is most effective at solving your problem.
In our world, where the need for speed and immediate results is so important, going slow and focusing on the long-term can be a difficult concept to embrace. Even when the pressure’s on, take time now to focus on getting things right (instead of just getting them done) to lead to time saved and better results later!