In the 1994 film Forrest Gump, Tom Hanks’ titular character offers a stranger a chocolate as they sit on a bus stop bench. The stranger declines uncomfortably, but Forrest continues to engage her.
“My mama always said life is like a box of chocolates,” he tells her. “You never know what you’re gonna get.”
As Forrest details pieces of his life to strangers at the bus stop, viewers are confronted with his mother’s wise truth: life is unpredictable. In fact, his life is comically and unlikely so. But as the credits roll, a sudden jolt of reality will reveal to audiences the parallels of unpredictability in their own lives. They may never unknowingly inspire the King of Rock and Roll as Forrest did since real-life surprises always seem a little more mundane. Still, the fact remains that you will never know what you’re going to get.
Last week, we detailed the importance of starting every project with a solid foundation and a comprehensive plan. This strategy should depict how Part A moves into Part B and then produces X return on investment (ROI). Of course, every marketing plan has an implied inscription in the heading: “If nothing goes awry, this is how we will proceed.” But what project has ever unfolded without experiencing the unexpected?
Some project managers develop flow charts and try to predict as many scenarios as possible, but even the most prepared teams can be caught off guard. The key is to be flexible. Know that you can’t plan for everything, but you can prepare your team by giving them the tools they need to face the unknown.
Know Your End Goal
Everyone on a project must know the end goal—the final destination. With a comprehensive understanding of where they’re headed, the team can still move forward without getting lost when a campaign falls off track. The goal is the single most important element of a marketing plan, yet it’s often overlooked.
Some may think the objective is obvious: leads, conversions, or transactions. But don’t assume the whole team understands what you’re thinking. Doing so will lead to misalignment. Rather than working towards ROI, the team may start pushing out content for content’s sake. If you reach this point, your purpose has devolved, your team has scattered, and you won’t reach your destination. The goal should never be to simply produce content.
Aim for interactions that will build relationships. Be specific with your goals. Put a number to it, and highlight it before moving forward. This will keep everyone on the same page and headed in the right direction. Even when the unexpected hits, together, you can assess the situation and blaze a new trail to get you back on track.
Give your team the space they need to brainstorm and create. Trust them to know where they’re going. By allowing them to pivot on their own, you provide them with the room they need to develop innovative ideas, and you free yourself to tend to other responsibilities.
If you’ve clearly communicated the goal and worked with them to create a thorough roadmap, they should already have the tools needed to redirect smoothly. Holding their hands could actually hold them back. Let them run full speed ahead, provide only the necessary safeguards, and see where their creativity takes the project. You may end up in a better position than you began.
You can spend countless hours planning, but life always throws a curveball. Don’t let the unexpected make you strike out. With a firm strategy and a team you trust, pivoting should be simple. Do you need help building that strategy, or are you looking for a few extra teammates? Connect with THuS Marketing to discuss how we can help.