Now I know you can produce creative without planning. A wealth of freelancers do. Lots of agencies do.
However, every major player in the UK & US offers planning within their service mix.
Why? Because planning does its job and ADDS VALUE to the customer delivery.
The reason for this? The world of communications is ever changing and it’s useful to have someone responsible for keeping this in-line with what the end consumer WANTS and EXPECTS: a “Champion” of the End User, so to speak.
In delivering success in this respect, the importance of listening as the balance of power in communications shifts from being top-down to bottom-up is ever prevalent.
The Marketing Universe used to think it was all about telling the audience that the brand or product you have is for them.
It was a one-way communication.
If you think about an advert – nobody really reads an advert, do they? They read what interests them, and sometimes it’s an advert.
That’s where good interactive communication and activation comes in.
And that’s where good planning sits in the digital sphere.
For all the speed of change in terms of channels and consumption, there has not been the same level of change in consumer behaviour – in raw human nature.
As Marketers we don’t really want to be appealing to broad society: we want to be appealing to individuals – each with their own ego, perceptual set and consumer preferences.
So in this respect you might say that good planning isn’t about predicting change, or reflecting on why change in society happens.
Listening in fundamentals of consumer and broader human behaviour in this way ensures we don’t miss the real traits that successful marketing mechanics need to answer to.
But don’t get me wrong – we can listen too much.
At some point we have to take responsibility for the brands our work represents and empower them to lead consumers without them feeling that they’re being led.
That’s what good creative agency does.
In a digital world as much as it was in the analogue past – the key to success rests in understanding the basics of human consumption and communication.
In order to most effectively influence a group of people, you don’t target them – you engage with them, willingly on their part.
The role of planning in an effective digital environment is thus to engage members of the selective audience as willing participants through the process of development and execution – whether that be a broad corporate website or short-term communication or acquisition campaign.
If everyone knows what the brand should stand for from the outset then we’re ticking the first box on the checklist for success.
If the brand promise can be channelled through the work and successfully answer to the truths of the real world around it then we’re working well on the next level.
If the work finds common ground and common language upon which to engage with the audience, and reflects the real world – then we’re resonating well on the next step towards success.
And if the work ultimately delivers a form of 2-way dialogue between the brand and its audience, with nobody feeling out of their comfort zone – then we’re successfully talking to the masses, one at a time.
This is where planning fits in the contemporary marketing sphere: “Champion” of the End User.