People who know me well may stifle a giggle when I tout the benefits of preparedness.  This is because I am known to be a tad compulsive and overly prepared. However, in defense of my tendencies in this regard, I find that it really does have some benefits!
Advance preparation allows us to more easily compensate for the unexpected.  In our business especially, we never know when a crisis or an opportunistic moment with a brief shelf-life may walk in our door.  So, if we’ve already checked off of our to-do list those tasks we know we must accomplish, we’re able to seize those unexpected moments, whether they be positive opportunities or critical problems requiring a fast resolution.
In the world of marketing communications, it’s a constant balance of creating a long-term strategy and working that plan, along with an openness and an ability to make adjustments to the plan at a moment’s notice.  Marketplace opportunities can pop up unexpectedly, and if we are too intent on “keeping our heads down” and following our well-laid-out plans, we can miss them.
For instance, a lot of the media outreach work we do is national in nature, and our ability to be successful in this competitive arena is driven, to some extent, by being able to quickly recognize trends and world events that allow us to add informed but immediate commentary to the conversation.  We have to focus, of course, on working our plan and building those strong media relationships which will ultimately lead to positive editorial receptiveness and coverage, while at the same time always having our antenna out in order to be able to insert our news into ongoing and developing stories – at precisely the right time.
The same is true on the marketing side of our business.  We frequently engage with our clients for the express purpose of helping them sell their products and increase their revenue streams.  Therefore, we need to have one foot solidly planted in implementing a very targeted and well-crafted marketing campaign at the same time that we are constantly evaluating the ever-changing and competitive landscape of our clients’ businesses.  We, as marketers, live within a fast-moving space where in-the-moment adjustments layered on top of a solid marketing plan are the norm.
So, back to my original premise.  Preparedness and advance planning are what allow us to achieve the lofty goals which are laid out in detail in our strategic planning documents, while at the same time allowing us to keep our radar out for those unexpected but frequently lucrative opportunities that we weren’t counting on, but which can be potentially significant difference-makers for our clients.
In other words, the “secret sauce” to marketing success can sometimes be found in the right combination of preparedness and opportunism.
Cathy Ackermann, founder and president of Ackermann Marketing and PR, may be reached at
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