Always start with a plan – and a planner

Published April 29, 2021, 2:12 p.m. by Hedvig Berntson

“I’m sorry for asking, but what does a planner actually do?”, “Ah, you plan events?”, “Are you a strategist?”. These are just some of the questions I get when I tell people that I’m a planner. It can be hard to explain what it is, it is easier to explain what we do. We find solutions for our clients’ challenges by doing a lot of research.

Planners exist to give creators a solid base to work with, and clients a sense of security. We do the research and help you find insights, get a sense of the consumer experience and a better understanding of the market in general. We explore your brand's conditions and potential, your competitors, and the effect of your current marketing activities.

My job is a lot about understanding humans – their behaviors, drives and passions. We work to understand a business, define its problems and often ask "why?". Why do people like that brand? Why do they like this product and not that one? However, it is not as simple as it sounds. In real life people often say they do something because it sounds good, but that doesn’t always translate to what they actually do. For example, someone might say they prefer eco-friendly brands, but seldom buy them.

Build your campaign on a sturdy foundation of real insights
A lot of us have favorite brands or companies. Maybe because they approach us with creativity, humor or great storytelling that resonates with us. Whatever it is that creates these emotions, there is a lot of work behind it. Work made by talented and creative people, one of which is a planner. A planner sees to it that the campaign is sturdily built on a foundation of real insights, not qualified guesses.

The word “insight” can be one of the most used (and misused) words in the agency business. There is a difference between “I’ve found some stuff,” and “I’ve found an insight”. Insights are often unspoken truths, and the best ways to find them is to start by keep asking “Why?” and “What if?”. An insight (Aha!) doesn't have to be: Wow, I had no idea! It can also be: “Ha, that's true”.

There are many ways to find insights, ranging from business reviews, magazine interviews to TikTok films. It is also the planner’s job to convey the insights to the client director, art director and everyone else in the team in order keep the process moving.

Good insights are a prerequisite for a successful strategy
Due to the pandemic, it’s been increasingly important to communicate relevant and reliable information. That is why finding the right insights has never been as crucial to a business as it is now. Although the need to understand what is going on – both in the society and in people's minds – is not a passing fad. Good insights are a prerequisite for a successful strategy.

So, basically, what a planner does is the initial groundwork. There is often no quick fix to solving big and complicated business problems. But having a planner in your team is a good start.

Want more on how to start with a plan? Read How a strategic approach can improve your client-agency cooperation