Planning is essential for any business. Whether you're in an advertising agency setting, responsible for multiple brands, or managing a single brand's strategy, knowing what's ahead and preparing for it is vital.
Traditional calendars, while having served their purpose for many years, are increasingly falling short for modern agencies and brands. As we head into 2024, there's a shift happening—a move towards more intuitive, comprehensive, and visually appealing tools.
In the past, a simple calendar on the wall or an online planner tool may have sufficed for some businesses. But as agencies and brands play catch up with ad trends and deal with an increasingly complex landscape, it's clear that conventional methods are not enough. Here's why:
Limited visibility: Traditional calendars are linear. They force users to flip pages or scroll to see the entire year, which makes it challenging to get an at-a-glance overview of yearly plans.
Restricted space: There's limited room to detail everything happening within a given month, let alone a year. With many occasions, operations, awards, and events to consider, planners are often left juggling various notes, docs, or tabs to get a complete picture.
Lack of customization: Every brand or agency is unique. Their goals, events, and strategies won't always fit neatly into a one-size-fits-all planner template.
Inefficiencies and inaccuracies: As plans change and evolve, traditional calendars can become messy and outdated quickly. With so much riding on these schedules, inaccuracies are costly.
This is more than just a calendar, it's a visual narrative of the year ahead. It allows users to chart their journey across various sectors, like events, operations, award shows, trade shows and conferences. Here are the core benefits:
Visual simplicity: By providing a bird's-eye view of the entire year, it streamlines complex information into a singular, comprehensive visual.
Customization: The template design ensures it's not a one-size-fits-all tool. Whether you're an agency or a brand, it can be tailored to fit your unique needs.
Focus on key pillars: With designated sections for events, operations, award shows, trade shows and conferences, it emphasizes the critical aspects of strategic planning, ensuring nothing falls through the cracks.
This is a tool designed to ensure comprehensive planning and streamline operations for the year ahead. Used correctly, it can be the difference between a year of chaos and a year of productivity and meaningful moments.
Let's break down the four cornerstones that will give you a well-rounded overview of the year.
The heart of any agency or brand isn't just its services but the people and the milestones they achieve. Recognizing these moments can boost morale and cement a sense of belonging.
Client anniversaries: Remembering the day you started working with a significant client can be a golden opportunity for re-engagement and strengthening the bond.
Birthdays: This is a simple yet effective way to show you care about people as individuals.
Company milestones: Be it your company's foundation day or the day you signed your most significant contract, celebrating these milestones fosters a sense of pride and unity. Milestones could also feature global and local events which you want to attend.
Operational efficiency is the bedrock of any successful agency or brand that wants to survive the era of attention advertising. A streamlined operational process ensures timely deliveries and satisfied customers.
Quarterly reviews: A set time to reflect on the past three months to evaluate performance, setbacks, and areas of improvement.
Project milestones: Clearly outlining when each phase of a project should be completed helps in setting expectations and ensuring timely deliveries.
Budgeting sessions: Deciding on financial allocations well in advance can save a lot of last-minute hustle and reduce financial stress.
Product launches: If you're a brand with a new offering, scheduling product launches ensures you have ample time for preparation and promotion.
Awards aren't just about recognition; they are about setting a standard of excellence and motivating teams to reach it.
Internal awards: Rewarding employees for outstanding work, whether as 'Employee of the Month' or a yearly recognition, can boost morale and motivation.
Industry awards: Setting targets to win specific industry awards can guide a year's work and set a clear direction for projects.
Client appreciation awards: Recognizing loyal and collaborative clients can solidify relationships and encourage future collaborations.
Trade shows and conferences, whether internal or external, are opportunities to learn, showcase, and network. A well-planned event can provide lasting benefits.
Team-building activities: Scheduling regular activities can improve team cohesion and help iron out interpersonal issues.
Conferences and webinars: Attending or hosting them can position your agency or brand as a thought leader in the industry.
Agencies thrive on organization and clear timelines. As fluid as the creative process can be, structure helps ensure client satisfaction and timely deliverables.
Incorporating client deliverables and agency-specific events:
Client campaigns: Mark major campaigns or project deadlines. This provides clarity and ensures you don't double-book resources.
Content calendar: Pinpoint dates for releasing agency-related content, such as case studies, blog posts, or promotional videos.
Client onboarding: If you have predictable client onboarding cycles, plot them out. This helps you ensure adequate staff availability and training.
Integrating team growth plans and milestones:
Hiring phases: Identify periods for recruitment drives or intern intakes.
Training and development: Mark out periods for team training, workshops, and certification programs to upskill.
Anniversaries and celebrations: Celebrate your agency's milestones and plot them on the wheel to keep the spirit of celebration alive.
Growth targets: Set quarterly growth targets and mark them visually. It serves as a reminder and motivation for the team.
Every good strategy thrives on iteration and evolution. The Year Wheel is no exception.
Quarterly check-ins: Schedule quarterly reviews. It's an optimal frequency that balances between being nimble and avoiding excessive revisions.
Feedback loop: Encourage team members to report any unplanned events or changes that may affect the planner. This ensures your Year Wheel remains relevant and actionable.
Thinking about where to place it? That’s easy. Print it out, and have it as a conversation piece in meeting rooms.
The Year Wheel is powerful, but integrating it with other tools gives it more depth and layers.
Digital integration: If your team uses digital tools like Trello, Asana, or Monday.com, consider how the Year Wheel can be incorporated. For something more extensive, you can look into Plandisc, the world’s first digital circular calendar.
Synchronize with marketing campaigns: For advertising agencies, align the Year Wheel with client campaign schedules. This ensures that crucial events like product launches or promotions aren't missed.