Team members high-fiving during a marketing long-term planning.

Today’s job seekers and employees look at their employer and work environment much differently than I did when I was starting out. In addition to a competitive salary, benefits, and work/life balance, employees today expect a company to have a higher purpose and a mission that’s aligned with their personal values. This provides a tremendous opportunity for employers to leverage and activate the energy and passion of their team members to move their companies forward.

The demands of managing a business and the many distractions of day-to-day operations often limit a company's ability to envision and plan for the future. The impact of the worldwide pandemic and the shift to remote and hybrid work have contributed to these challenges. It’s a difficult environment in which to recruit and retain top talent and ensure that everyone is working toward a common purpose.

Most businesses, including Two Rivers Marketing, have been distracted by the need to react to big, unexpected challenges the pandemic presented us. That has taken a disproportionate amount of time and energy. Which is exactly why our leadership team prioritized long-range planning this year. Now, more than ever, it’s important for companies to step out of the demands of day-to-day business and focus on the future.

Now, more than ever, it’s important for companies to step out of the day-to-day management of the business to focus on and plan for the future.

We’ve embarked on a long-range planning process that has been rewarding and inspiring for our employee owners. It’s proven to be healthy for our culture by creating engagement and harnessing the incredible thinking and passion of our team members.

Long-Range vs. Strategic Planning

There’s a distinction between long-range planning and strategic planning. Strategic planning involves more tactical, short-term, and operational initiatives that help a company grow, improve, and remain healthy. Strategic planning is a very important discipline for business operations because it identifies goals you want to reach in two or three years. Two Rivers Marketing has completed three strategic plans over the past 12 years.

A long-range plan has an extended horizon and outlines more transformational efforts. We are beginning a seven-year long-range planning process that allows us to be more visionary in order to achieve lofty goals. Our growth goals are measurable. But the long-range plan is less about the agency's achievements and more about ensuring that we provide professional growth for our associates, maintain our healthy culture, strengthen our position as the most desirable employer in our industry, and increase the company's value for our employee owners so we can continue to deliver exceptional work for our clients.

As we’re starting our long-range planning journey, it’s been rewarding and encouraging to see the unique ideas our team is bringing forward. Bigger, bolder, and braver ideas than we’ve seen before. And that’s exactly the point of long-range planning. It is ambitious thinking with a big goal and a longer timeline to achieve it.

Long-Range Planning Process

We started the long-range planning process by writing a framework with our proposed growth channels: areas of our company that we believe will help us reach our goals. Our growth channels include agency structure, new business, new service offerings, innovations, and acquisitions. Each growth channel will have a detailed plan supported by strategies and tactics, timelines, and measurable goals. 

Next, we outlined the long-range planning process itself:

  1. Align with our values and bring our agency vision to life.
  2. Communicate our LRP objectives and approach.
  3. Establish the core team.
  4. Conduct a workshop and gather LRP Big Ideas from key stakeholders.
  5. Present big ideas to peers through input team.
  6. Create business plan for LRP ideas.
  7. Roll out LRP to the company.
  8. Activate the plan.
  9. Measure our progress.
  10. Refine and adapt as needed.

      Discipline, Accountability, Patience

      Long-range planning requires big thinking, discipline, accountability, and patience to create the desired change that allows you to achieve your goals. This is an opportunity to show employees that their ideas and their thinking are valued and will contribute to creating something bigger and better for everyone’s future. We should embrace that today’s employees have high expectations for their employer and expect a more purpose-driven work environment. With those expectations, every employee has personal responsibility. As an employer, it’s important to hold everyone accountable for their role in achieving your goals and bringing the company’s vision and purpose to life.

      Contact Us

      If you’d like more information about our long-range planning process or our strategic planning process, please email me. We’re always looking for opportunities to help other companies grow and achieve their goals.