We have been in discussion with a prospective client to help them create a social media strategy. We’re in the running with several other vendors, and our contact informed us that all of the other companies submitted lengthy methodology plans, outlining exactly how they’ll go about creating a marketing strategy.

We didn’t submit one. Why not?

Most marketing companies have a very prescribed set of rules for going into a new project–checklists and forms and lots of boxes to check. It’s all very official and makes everyone feel very efficient. The problem is, methodology is fixed. Rigid. And when it smacks right up against actual processes and reality, methodology can be a hinderance to finding the real issue.

Instead of sending him a detailed methodology, we sent him a simple outline explaining  our flexible, results-oriented model. We said:

1. We listen. A good plan has to address the realities of your organization, including your hierarchy, layers of approval and compliance, comfort and knowledge level with social media, and dozens of other factors. After all, it doesn’t matter if we give you the best social media plan in the world if it’s not something that could be realistically implemented. We talk with people at every level of the organization, from the C-level down to the infantry who will actually be executing the work and dealing with this day in, day out. Once we understand the status quo, we can figure out how to grow and change in a way that shakes things up without destroying what you’ve got.

2. We ask. Once we’ve gotten a feel for how all the moving parts fit together, it’s time to dive in and really start figuring out the kind of program you need. What level of ROI will you need to consider this program a success? When do you want to start seeing results? Under what conditions will you consider throwing in the towel? How long are you willing to experiment with social media? What terrifies you about social media? What could go wrong? What could go right? It’s time to ask some tough questions.

3. We write. Once we’ve gathered the information necessary, we write. We write a plan that includes all the things you need to know to be a success. What social networks you need to be on. What kinds of content you’ll need to create. How to distribute that content. Who will write that content. Who will need to approve that content. How it moves through that process, soup to nuts. What to look for to measure success. What to do if you encounter failure. How to deal with the inevitable snafus and snags you’ll meet along the way. We can’t say exactly what will be in this plan, because we don’t know your unique situation. Yet. But when we do, it’ll be in there.

4. We explain. Now that we’ve got a plan, we tell our clients exactly how to go about doing it. We offer practical training and assistance every step of the way. Then, it’s up to the client to get doing.

That’s it. It’s not a fancy process. It’s not set in stone. It’s fluid and lets us move and pivot. It lets us be who our cleints need us to be, rather than trying to force them to walk in lockstep with us. That’s how we work at Roundpeg. We don’t believe in forcing square pegs into round holes.

This approach isn’t right for everyone. Some people crave the orderliness of process and the comfort of a pre-prescribed plan. That’s totally cool with us. We might wind up getting this client, we might not. But if we do, it will because they want to work with us, and trust our process.  We’re not like other marketing companies. We wouldn’t want to be.