Good communication requires planning ahead…and then hard work.

Good communication requires planning ahead…and then hard work.

We all talk about and read about what it takes to effectively communicate, and we have an ever-growing array of tools at our fingertips to use today.

But one thing is a historical constant: It takes early planning to even have a decent chance to be successful at communicating.

Every day, I work with organizations that honestly want to do a better job communicating and are constantly scratching their heads trying to figure out how to improve their communication.

But many times, the problem isn’t the communication itself—the message, the method, the distribution and the feedback—the problem is a lack of planning and a lack of planning early enough.

We—the communication people—can’t communicate anything until somebody somewhere does something—makes a decision or takes an action.

Wonder why attendance was down at your event? Wonder why you didn’t sell anything? Wonder why just a few responded? Often, the idea/product/service/event itself is well-conceived, it’s something people want/value/enjoy, and the price is right. But you didn’t start the work early enough. You procrastinated, then you hurried up, then you had to punt. There is no communication plan in the world that can adjust for lack of time to communicate.

Communication—effective communication—takes time. Time to understand the objectives, time to craft the message, time to add images to the message—photos, video, art, time to determine the best tools to use, time to use the tools, time for the message to be received, and then time to repeat the message. Sometimes you even have to change the message, and get it out there again. All of this takes time.

Today, people are slammed with information. We screen out all we don’t need right now. That means we have to “peat and repeat” our messaging. We need between 5 and 11 touches to get the message across. That takes time.

We need to start earlier. We need to plan way, way ahead on what we want to do, so the communication people have time to be effective with the message.

How much time? Think XX days and then double it. Everything…always…takes longer than you think.

If you have something coming up in the next six months—a product launch, a new service, an event, a business focus—start planning right now. Right now is the right time to start. Give yourself a fighting chance to be successful.