Posted on March 2, 2012
We are BIG believers in Account Planning. Not only was Account Planning the genesis of Peacock Nine, but many of most inspired clients are Account Planners at some of the world’s finest, most creative and innovative advertising agencies. When leveraged effectively, an astute Account Planner can help provide the customer-focused “magic” that guides creative development, fuels innovation and lays the foundation for brand-building. Heck, we’ve also seen great Planning fuel true organizational transformation for more than a few clients.
A Planner himself, EatBigFish’s Adam Morgan has always seemed to hold Account Planning in similarly high esteem. Recently, he unloaded this bombshell:
‘Planning is an exciting discipline in an exciting world. But Planning needs to stop talking brilliantly to itself and start talking to a broader audience…and be a more dynamic, high profile and appreciated agent for change in the Agency and Marketing worlds’
Mr. Morgan might just be onto something. What do you think are the factors that have limited the effectiveness of Planners and Planning?
Some within agencies might blame “Planner Hubris”. Unfortunately the discipline has fostered a reputation for intellectual superiority that has alienated and hobbled many a Planner over the decades. That said, I would suggest that the effectiveness of Planning has been most limited by PROCESS and ACCESS.
All too often it seems the the PROCESS of crafting great creative solutions no longer allows time for Planning. Rather than invest the time to truly understand target consumers and develop a sound, insight-filled strategy and/or creative brief BEFORE creative development starts, agencies are all too often forced by their clients and those clients’ unrealistic budgetary and time expectations to jump immediately to creative development. Best case in this scenario, customer understanding and the Planning process run parallel to creative development. More often than agencies would like to admit, they are accomplished after the fact and used to rationalize creative ideas already “in the can”. When the industry relegates Planning to the backseat of the PROCESS, how can the discipline of Planning and its practitioners ever step forward into the light? As this unfortunate dynamic continues and the pressure on marketing budgets mounts, how long before agencies find themselves providing Planning as a free, value-added service to their clients and CMO’s, marketing VPs and brand managers—and Planning is devalued entirely?
As the PROCESS of crafting advertising devalues Planning, the ACCESS of Planning and Planners is constrained (both within the agency and without) to the point that neither the discipline nor the Planning practitioner are ever in a position to become the “agents/catalysts of change” that Mr. Morgan knows they can be.
Finally, one might think that Adam Morgan’s comments are a clarion call for Planning to command the RESPECT that it deserves—both among Planners who do not realize the power and value that the discipline provides and among agencies and their clients who don’t realize the value that insight-fueled consumer strategies can provide beyond the development of a print execution or a tv spot.
We would suggest that the lack of RESPECT at the root of the matter is the lack of RESPECT for the consumer, not the Planner. Once a business leader and/or senior marketer understands that insight into their target consumer is the greatest source of breakthrough advertising, product/service innovation and organizational focus/transformation, then both the discipline of Account Planning and the talent of Planners will be afforded the broad, exciting opportunities that Mr. Morgan and many of us feel they deserve.