Around this time of year, as many clients are mired in the arduous process of getting annual marketing plans signed off, I always have the same realisation. That this will be another year that such-and-such client will destroy any chance they have of doing anything really innovative because of the speed mandated by an annual marketing cycle. They treat managing a big brand like captaining a big ship – it takes a long time to change course, and if you hit anything you are pretty much screwed. This may not have been a problem ten years ago, these days (particularly within the digital space) it is the reason that every Goliath needs to be terrified of the many Davids just itching to take them down.
I was talking to a very on-the-ball client last year, and we discussed this problem. I told them that if they wanted to make a difference, if they wanted to really and seriously leave their competitors in the dust, they just needed to one thing… change from an anual marketing cycle to a quarterly one. Revisit strategy, spending, the lot, every three months (hell, why not make it two). I realise it’s impossible for most big companies, but if they can find a way to embrace that speed of change internally it will finally equip them to capitalise on the equally rapid pace in the external communications environment.