Where are the account planners of the digital world?

Traditionally ad agencies had 3 functions

  1. Account Management: Taking care of the interests of the clients
  2. Planning: Choosing media
  3. Creative: Creating advertisement

In the 1960s, 2 agencies in the UK — JWT and Boase Massimi Pollitt — saw the importance of the consumer’s voice in advertising. Thus, the Account Planner was born.

In the 50s, “Marketing” and “Marketing Plans” were in fact executed by the agency. Ad agencies pioneered market research (JWT started the British Market Research Bureau). In the 60s and 70s brands started having marketing and market research departments in house. They started looking at ad agencies for specialist advice on advertising and communications.

Why are account planners important?

It is the planner’s job to guide the communications/advertising strategy and make sure it is effective in the market place.

  1. At the core of this task, is the need to understand the consumer/customer and unearth a key insight for the communication/solution (Relevance).
  2. As media channels have mushroomed and communication channels have multiplied, it has become increasingly important for communication to cut through the cynicism and connect with its audience (Distinctiveness).
  3. Moreover, to continue the learning cycle, planners must also recognise the need to demonstrate how and why the communication has performed (Effectiveness).

What is the role of an account planner?

  • Market Researcher: Rely on research rather than intuition alone
  • Data Analyst: Find a story in the data
  • Information Centre: Getting up to date with new trends
  • Brainstorming Facilitator: Get the brand manager and the creative team on the same page
  • Voice of the Consumer: Think of the consumer at every stage of the communications development
  • Media/Communications Planner: Understand the strategic role of different media, , by target and by category, and know when and how it is relevant to use them to achieve the brands objectives.
  • Strategic Thinker/Strategy Developer: Strategies help us get to the right marketing/communications brief.
  • Writer of the Creative Brief: The Creative Brief kick starts the creative development process.
  • Anthropologist: Many people can tell you what ís in and what ís out of fashion, but planners should be able to tell why. The findings are used in the creative development process.
  • Insight Miner: Mining the data, peering into nooks and crannies without losing sight of the bigger picture in order to identify a key insight that really adds value to the brand and its people.

Who are the account planners of the digital world?

If you think about the above skills, community managers perfectly fit the bill for account planning. They’ll carry forward the torch of account planning that is crucial to making digital work for brands.

  • They are at the intersection of people, brand, culture and technology.
  • They understand content and communication
  • They understand digital platforms because they are also participants
  • They can use data to make communication more effective

Further reading-

What is Account Planning?
Anatomy of Account Planning

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