I found this chair at a yard sale. I remember the day clearly; it was one of those knee-jerk reactions that occasionally overcome you whilst thrifting, when you grab the item as part of some out-of-body experience and work out the details later. Where will it go? Doesn’t matter. Will it fit in the car? We’ll make some calls. Do I even need it? Yes, what kind of a question is that.

Fast forward three years. The chair still sits in my living room, and is very much a part of the visual vibe – and yet, I can count the number of times anyone has actually sat in it on one hand. No matter how many decorative throw pillows I buy, the chair simply isn’t “it.” The couch is a much more comfortable alternative and, even when it’s full, people (and cats) will naturally elect to sit on the hardwood floor before enduring that chair. The cold, hard truth that I haven’t been able to admit until just now is that the chair is downright, irrevocably…uncomfortable. 

Though it may surprise you, this whole blog post isn’t about a chair. The long-winded marketing analogy comes down to this: Whether it’s a marketing plan, strategy plan, or promotion plan, the best plan is the one you’ll actually use. 

When it comes to outlining your marketing strategy, it’s easy to make things very complicated very fast. Many people tend to want it all at once: The best brand, the best website, the best follower count, the best media placements, the best quirky promotional handout items at the conference. This drive is a good thing – you’ve got big ideas and, gosh darn it, you want to make them all happen by end-of-day next Thursday! It must be the Capricorn in you. But if there’s too much too fast, your plan will likely end up sitting in a folder on your desktop, never to see the light of day. While throwing out moonshot ideas is great during the brainstorming phase or when planning for the long term, it’s important to analyze these in conjunction with what’s realistic for your team in terms of capacity, budget, time, and scope right now when you trim down your final plan. 

They may not be as flashy as a laundry list of dreams, but realistic marketing and strategy plans cultivate fulfilled actions. When everything is doable given your current resources, you’re often inspired to do more. You can dedicate your time to condensed tactics with a focus on quality over quantity. Instead of burning out from attempting to single-handedly post on your social channels every three minutes, for example, you’ll do what you can with what you have. Ideally, you’ll work your way up to that big hairy audacious goal in due time — but for now, it’s those practical, manageable goals that will move you toward your mission. 

Still, that aforementioned laundry list of dreams isn’t useless. Regardless of its blatant impracticality, I still keep that chair in my living room. Why? Because I’m a material girl, it looks good, and it brings me joy. In the same way, if you want your plan to stretch a little higher and list some ambitious ideas that seem a little out of reach right now but still help you understand who your brand is and where you’d like to go someday, there’s certainly value in that when it comes to big-picture planning and visioning. The key is distinguishing between which tactics are achievable right now and which are better suited for the long-term, and not spinning your wheels trying to make them all happen in one day. 

If you’re looking for executable strategies that fit your current reality, get yourself a practical marketing or promotion plan. They might not be as glamorous as their overly ambitious counterparts, but they’re the floppy, overstuffed couches we all need.