paper trails matter more than you think?

Another of my former bosses, and current mentor, once advised: “If it’s not on paper, it’s not real.” Meaning, if you don’t have a documented marketing plan, digital or otherwise, there’s nothing to talk about, stay out of my office. As frustrating as it was at the time, he spoke the truth and taught me a valuable lesson. Without a paper-trail, there’s nothing to keep a group of free-thinking, idea-chasing marketers on task. Without that documentation to anchor us, planning meetings routinely turned into brainstorms, pushing and pulling the team away from the original strategy and fracturing morale.

Can you build a high-rise without a blue-print? No. Can you build a brand without a formalized plan? No. Marketers are architects of their own kind. Instead of building houses, condos or commercial real estate, we construct brands. And, just like our hotel designing cousins, without a schematic to follow, we’re lost.

But staying on task is not the only reason for putting pen to paper. The exercise itself acts as another brand filter, sifting out those employees who follow through on their ideas and those who don’t. If you’re not willing to put a presentation together to outline your strategy, how can I trust that you’ll follow through in executing that strategy?

I can’t.