In my 30 years as a planner, I’ve come across many misconceptions about what the role entails. It’s a vital part of any successful marketing campaign, so I’d like to explain what a planner actually does.
At its most basic level, the planner’s role is to represent the audience and understand what they’re thinking.
It includes getting to grips with the client brief, researching audiences, finding key insights and learning about competitors. It also involves creating positioning maps for competitors, content, audiences and channels.
There’s even more to it than that though, so here are five things you might not know about planning.
1. Planning is a creative role
Planning is an important part of MOI’s Turning Heads creative process. But it can take a long time to get to a stage where you can write a proposition down, and when you do it’s like putting your soul on a piece of paper.
The process works best once you’ve built trust because that’s when you can get the most useful feedback.
2. It’s an art, not a science
Many people have tried, but it’s impossible to create a set planning process that works for all planners – planners need to work at their own pace.
We rarely sit at our desks working on just one thing, but rather on five or six different briefs at a time.
3. It’s a labour-intensive job
We’re constantly discovering and processing information, so planning can take a long time. It does, however, speed up with experience. For example, I can now complete in two or three days something that might have taken me three weeks at the beginning of my career.
4. Audiences often aren’t understood properly
Planners need to understand audiences, and one thing that’s become apparent is that the heart is stronger than the head. People make value judgements based on emotions, so marketing needs to reflect that – even in B2B.
We want a buyer’s decision-making process to be like what they experience as consumers. That’s why, at MOI, we not only create personas but specific emotional responses that we want to invoke.
5. Planning never changes
Planning has been pretty much the same since I started three decades ago.
With the explosion in the number of channels and the ways in which we can engage our audiences, the biggest transformation has been in activation.
But the basic elements of planning don’t change. They shouldn’t change.
Planning in action
With some of the myths surrounding planning cleared up, I’ve picked a couple of campaigns that I’m particularly proud to have worked on, to explain the thought processes that went behind them.
Yorktel – Rehumanising Communications
Yorktel is a large US-based provider of unified communications (UC) systems. However, they weren’t so well known across EMEA.
Our brief was to develop positioning and a creative outreach programme that builds awareness for Yorktel and differentiates them from their competitors.
I started by investigating how technology enables the modern workplace: in any 24-hour period, 772 billion emails are sent, 364 billion minutes are spent on social networks and 299 billion minutes are spent on the phone.
But shockingly, only 300 million minutes are spent on video communications – just 0.02% of global communications.
Research by psychologist Albert Mehrabian reveals that 55% of meaning from communication is inferred through body language or non-verbal means.
In other words, we miss out on over half the intent behind 99.98% of all global communications. How we’re using technology can actually de-humanise business.
These insights gave Yorktel the drive and mission to rehumanise the workplace. It changed their marketing focus from what UC is to what it does.
Oracle – Business Freedom
Oracle has been the go-to provider of on-premise technology infrastructure for decades. But when developing a full stack cloud solution, they found themselves a long way behind cloud leaders Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.
They decided to target a new, underserved market: the mid-market. It would be easy, if it weren’t for the fact that there are far more businesses at the smaller end of the scale than there are ‘almost-enterprise sized’ organisations. They’re less tech savvy than those Oracle were used to speaking to.
After a little digging, we discovered a strong emotional element in choosing technology vendors. Like the Yorktel example above, we would have to reassure them about what Oracle Cloud could do for them rather than what it is.
The solution was to map out key pain points – such as information overload, faceless sellers and generic expertise – to specific benefits of Oracle Cloud. It led to the thought, ‘Oracle is Business Freedom’. It’s an expression that was adopted throughout a wide-reaching, award-winning campaign.
I hope you now understand the planning process a little better and that it’ll help you on your next marketing campaign. Get in touch to learn more about MOI’s Turning Heads creative process.