It’s all in the preparation

It’s been a rollercoaster of a month at Luma Towers. In light of recent public health issues, we have been unpicking and recasting plans for our clients’ planned investments in international conferences in both hemispheres.  Here’s what we know.

A plan is just a plan

A marketing plan has many, many moving parts on every possible channel.  It’s a complex thing to put together – and even trickier to pull apart.  But a plan is simply a statement of intent: when circumstances change, your plan needs to be able to adapt quickly.

“In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”
Dwight D Eisenhower.
President of the United States (1953–1961) and Supreme Commander of the Allied forces in Europe during the second world war.

How do you make sure that flexibility is built into your marketing plan?

We have tried and tested as many ways of managing a marketing plan as there are sardines in a can: from whiteboards and post-its to Asana, Trello, and too many others to mention.  And we keep coming back to a good old spreadsheet where we can connect messages, channels, timings, suppliers, budgets, speakers and team members.  But all of that detail can be made irrelevant in an instant when something changes.

The most fundamental element of your plan? Your objectives.

Understand what you want to achieve

If you spend a little time at the outset outlining what you want to achieve and what your success metrics are, it’s far easier to adapt the plan later on.  How do the alternatives help us meet our objectives?

Following that line of thought has led our clients to a range of different conclusions this month.  Some are continuing, full steam ahead, with a rearranged plan; others are waiting to see what happens and avoiding non-essential commitments; and some have simply cut their losses.

Protecting your investment

The difference between cancelled and postponed is massive – and we encourage people to be careful with the language they use.  A cancelled event gives certainty and means that refunds are due; a postponed event does not.

Either way, many people are on the phone to their insurers, accountants and legal advisers to assess the damage – and damage there definitely is.  On an individual level there are also emotions to deal with, whether that’s disappointment, relief, anger or delight.

Please, tread gently and be kind.  This is the moment to live your values, communicate clearly and do your best by the people around you – your reputation depends on it.

It’s all about the people

The big corporates have predominantly decided not to attend international conferences (this has pushed the organisers of MIPIM, BILT Asia and GDC to postpone and Mobile World Congress to cancel), putting health & safety of their employees’ wellbeing first.  Brilliant.

But not always an option for an SME – and a small business owner may make a different decision.  Without the sales and marketing opportunities that international conferences bring, they risk having no pipeline for the year… and therefore no work for their employees.  A tough decision.

For marketing agencies, and the event organisers themselves, conferences and big events are our bread and butter.

Remember, it wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.

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