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Stopping to Reflect: The Power of a Strategy Debrief

by Ryan Joy — November 12, 2010

George Bernard Shaw once said, “Few people think more than two or three times a year; I have made an international reputation for myself by thinking once or twice a week.” We are all so busy doing, that sometimes we forget to stop and think about what we’ve done and what we want to do. Stopping to really think about your marketing strategy—learning from the past to plan for the future—is a powerful thing, even if you do it just once a quarter.

One of our clients has made a tradition of gathering all the key players in their team for a day at the end of the holiday season to debrief. While the season’s successes and blunders are still fresh in their minds, it’s easy to find the spark that leads to new ideas and insights for the year ahead.

Another one of our clients recently visited our office to develop next year’s marketing plan. As we reviewed last year’s disappointing numbers for their email coupon redemptions, we realized (“a-ha!”) that a simple layout change could make all the difference. The weekly ad had been taking up most of the space, with the coupon practically hidden in the bottom right-hand corner. We all may have missed this critical adjustment if we had jumped into planning next year before debriefing this one.

Debriefing is such a valuable practice, and all it requires is that we pause our busy schedules to:

  • EVALUATE: What worked and what didn’t?
  • LEARN: What insights can you take from what you see?
  • THINK: How can we leverage our successes and shift our failures? What is possible now that wasn’t before?
  • PLAN: What new outcomes do we want to accomplish? What will it require? What are the next steps?

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