Planners Talking Planning — S01E03: Do Clients Value Planning?

Episode 3 of Planners Talking Planning asks whether clients value the role that planners play in developing effective and creatively strong solutions to their business challenges. ICYMI, this follows from Episode 2, which asked the complementary question of whether agencies value planners.

To be clear, these two questions are not meant to be a criticism of either clients or agencies, but rather, an exploration of why it can sometimes feel like planning and strategy have to work a little harder than other departments to defend their value, both internally and externally.

Is planning becoming more or less valued by clients?

How much does the choice of agency reflect the client’s view on the value of planning?

Can planning be successfully layered into the process with existing clients?

One of the things that that I find curious about this industry is when I’ve encountered the attitude that we can only be truly creative with our solutions when we don’t have a client to answer to, or have a large budget to work with. What if instead of assuming that a small budget means a client isn’t truly invested in getting a strong solution that is both strategic and creative, we use the same empathy skills we apply to understanding consumers to better understand the constraints that our clients are operating within?

A mentor of mine once said to me “constraint is the mother of creativity”. I think this is often true, but it shouldn’t just apply to creative outputs. It’s an equally useful way to think about the context of project when developing the strategy used to inform those solutions. The reality is that there will always be people on both client- and agency-side who say planning doesn’t matter; but as I mentioned in my previous post, I believe it’s on us as planners (and strategists!) to try to show them why it does.

Don’t expect the value of planning to be obvious to everyone; do keep in mind that not every project needs a planner or strategist on it 24/7 to prove our value. Show them the evidence demonstrating the positive relationship between effectiveness and great creative (such as this or this), and conversely how reducing investment in long-term brand building wastes creativity. Use case studies where planning made a difference based on work with other clients, including the data to back it up. They may still not change their minds about whether they want to invest in planning in the short term, but at least they will have an idea of what it could do for their business in the future.

Find out what these planners have to say here:

I started the Planners Talking Planning project to go meta about planning, push my own thinking, and share interviews smart + awesome planners and strategists about what we do.

Shout out to the following people who were nice enough to speak to me via Google Hangouts and be filmed for the project:

Faris Yakob & Rosie Yakob (Genius Steals, Technomadix), Julian Cole (BBDO), Ryan Drumwright (FRIPPN), Sean Bonthuys (gyro), Maggie Windsor Gross (Havas), Mehdi Mollahasani (gyro), Erica Glynn (PHD Worldwide), Caitlin Bishop (McCann Erikson), Umar Ghumman (Mirum).