What Do You Do When “Plan A” Won’t Work?

Be clear about your goal but be flexible about the process of achieving it.”
— Brian Tracy

Quick, what’s your “Plan B?”

Sometimes “Plan A’s” don’t work quite as well as anticipated.  They often assume, incorrectly, an optimal situation. One that’s unencumbered by reality.

So let me share a quick story about how a marketing Plan B that I had to come up with actually ended up a pretty good success.

Exhibiting at the big computer trade shows is a necessity for small companies that are trying to establish themselves in the market. As the marketing director for a small start-up computer hardware company some years ago, I was tasked with developing our exhibit to launch a new flagship product.

Just weeks before the launch and the tradeshow, I found that the new product would not be ready for demonstration at the exhibit. I had nothing to showcase! My well-laid and meticulously crafted Plan A was in ruins!

I needed a Plan B. Fast!

Brainstorming led to a simple idea — sell the promise. Instead of a big, fancy 20 foot by 20 foot exhibit that cost tens of thousands of dollars, I had a simple 8 foot by 8 foot by 8 foot high wooden crate made. This crate stood out on the glitzy showroom floor like a construction worker at a Broadway opening. Every attendee that walked by just HAD to ask, “What’s in the crate?” The staff and I, dressed in lab coats, gleefully went into our spiel about the new product under development in our labs that would soon be delivered for firms like theirs. Would you like to know more about it?

They were hooked. And we generated hundreds of leads, many of which turned into solid sales when we began delivering product.

Read the full story here, as it appeared in EXHIBITOR Magazine.

So, what’s the takeaway for you?

I believe that Plan B’s, often driven by necessity, can be just as effective as your Plan A, perhaps even more so.

Why? Because I believe that in a Plan B you must focus like a laser on reaching your goal through creative thinking. This is not to say that you should throw out analysis or planning. That is sure to lead to failure. It means that you take your analysis and planning and then try to play with the possibilities, the out-of-the-box scenerios that can have an impact. Your Plan B becomes your fall-back, regroup, get-‘er-done solution when or if Plan A goes awry.

In short, your Plan A may be the best you can come up with to be successful under ideal circumstances, but your Plan B can save your bacon when things don’t go the way you expect.