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When is a plan not a plan?

It happens all the time. A client seeks and retains a marketing and PR firm for their counsel and implementation of plans.

The professional researches the market, analyzes the situation and drafts a plan with a unique selling proposition and positioning. The client reviews the plan and determines that only one of fifteen items is important to them; however, the fifteen items are all interdependent and support the client’s stated goal. The PR / marketing professional reformats the plan, frequently offering guidance that as reformulated the results may not meet the client’s goals. The professional ultimately implements the items that the client authorizes and then results aren’t what the client seeks.

Whose fault is this? The client’s or the professional’s?

When a client pays their hard earned dollars for PR and marketing advice, and then ignores what they’ve paid for and won’t undertake the campaign the way it is presented we should reformulate. The client must understand that reformulating the plan costs time and money…and many clients don’t feel they have additional amounts of either to sustain a second round of planning.

Not every client has all the resources to undertake everything we plan. We create plans that meet a client’s stated goals and resources. However, it is exasperating when we spend our time, wisdom, experience, energy and knowledge writing a plan that is ignored.

So, going into the planning process the client must be absolutely frank about what they can afford, sustain, and ultimately what budget resources they have to focus on their goal.

If you are a business who would like to retain a marketing and PR firm, analyze what and why you want to work with a firm. Understand what resources (money, personnel) you have and then be forthright with your prospective firm. Understand that when you tell your prospective counsel what you need, want and can pay for and then reject sound advice you have just wasted your money.

As professionals we must make sure we comprehend what a client is asking of us. Often we’d love to give them an “all in” project where every initiative we can think of is included, but if the client didn’t ask us for that we’re wasting our time and their money.

A successful marketing and PR initiative is one that is carefully crafted to be of use, return results and fit the budget. If the budget isn’t adequate to gain the desired results, let the client know that you can’t assist them. It’s hard to say, “No, thank you.” but sometimes it is worth it.

One thought on “When is a plan not a plan?

  1. I agree, Cheryl. It is vital that the marketing/PR firm and the client have a frank discussion about budgetary parameters early on. Too often, people fail to understand what things cost and are then shocked by a plan price tag. When I work with planning and coaching clients, I give them budgetary parameters to take into these meetings so that both parties can have successful interactions.

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