What is account planning?

By November 25, 2012 2 Comments

Account planning is the creative behind the creative. It’s a strategy-driven analysis of primary or secondary¬†market research.¬†Account planners conduct qualitative and quantitative research including personal interviews, focus groups, and surveys. They synthesize the research into insights, a simple but profound understanding of the target market’s truest-held beliefs. Insights are used to capture a share of the market that identifies with that insight.

How can account planning help a brand?

In a full service advertising agency, the account planning department is typically the first team to handle a new brand or product. While many brand managers on the client side may believe that they have already cracked the secret to a product’s positioning, it’s hard to justify spending a very large advertising budget without market research that supports their conclusions. That’s where account planning comes in: they’ll work to prove, through quantitative research, that the direction the brand is heading is the most appropriate one.

How does account planning contribute to the “big idea” in advertising?

Account planners do more than just prove what people already know. They also provide insight into audiences, your product, and your category. We throw around terms like “baby boomer” or “hipster,” but someone sat down one day and created those names for people. That person is often the account planner. Having a clear understanding of a brand’s target market and positioning, called an insight, is paramount to the success of a brand, since it gives teams on both sides something that they can define and “own,” that is, something to structure the brand’s equity around.

What is an insight?

Simply put, a simple but profound understanding, supported by research. At Limitless, we believe the “simple” part is the most important part, so all of our insights are words and phrases that can fit into a single tweet, 140 characters. Some of our previous insights include:

Yogurt is a penance for dietary sins. (Insight for Chobani Yogurt)
For teens, buying jeans is a social activity. (Insight for GAP Jeans)
A BlackBerry is like a suit, a basic requirement for the up-and-coming corporate audience. (Insight for BlackBerry)

And what do we do with insights?

Once we’ve defined an insight, it’s imperative to move quickly to develop advertising that positions the brand in accordance with the insight we’ve developed, lest one of our competitors move first.