Planning in Chaos (

One day three statisticians went hunting in Maine. Out overlooking an open meadow, they spotted a deer, and the first one took a careful shot but missed by a yard to the left. Miraculously the deer never moved, allowing the second to take his shot, this time missing by a yard to the right. The third took his turn to aim and – BINGO! “We got it!” exclaimed the third with high fives all around.

The marketing planning process can seem precisely like this, and people remember the misses more than anything. Sales and customer growth forecasting is complicated under the best of circumstances, and when planning for 2021, we’re all in for some difficult challenges. One basic principle of forecasting is to plan for normalcy, but this year was anything but typical, and there is still a great deal of uncertainty ahead.

Several years ago, when we had more human interaction with our peers, I remember my colleague Matt Morton referencing the planning process as being “a bit of alchemy,” which stuck with me. I thought that was a great way to put it. Naturally, we’ll have previous results from which to work, but the real skill involves the ability to make sound assumptions for planning purposes. Get more at:

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