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Bringing ideas to life

Bringing ideas to life
Chris Gallery, Head of Planning at Mother talks about making ideas live.

Has anyone ever found a good way to explain to his or her family what it is a planner actually does? My family still remain pretty clueless despite numerous efforts (which is saying something considering one of them is actually a planner too). “The Voice Of the consumer”, “More focussed on business side of things”, “the bridge between commerce and creativity”…. all make no sense to the regular human being who quite rightly assumes it has something to do with “making plans”, or something to that effect.

If only it were so simple.

Alas, it’s harder and harder to explain what a planner actually does to people in our own industry let alone forlorn family members.  You can get a planner made in any shape or size these days, to fit almost any task. From brand strategy, to content calendars with a little bit of connectivity along the way we have planners for all types of tasks and with all types of job titles. Content strategists, social strategists, data strategists, creative planners, media strategists connections planners, engagement planners, brand planners, VR strategists etc. I made up VR strategists but it sounds like it might be fun, someone should do that.

Anyway, the point is it’s confusing. But it’s for a reason. There is simply a lot more work for agencies to do today, and more strategic tasks and skill sets needed than ever before. Not everyone has the luxury of working with a VR strategist on their VR projects, so planners need to have a much broader set of base skills to sit at the centre of all of the activity our clients do, all the while having a qualified perspective on what the plan should be.

We’ve been witnessing the planner job description spiral out of control for a number of years now. How many skills and areas of expertise can one brain hold? Well a lot it seems. Planners need to be help innovate and drive business growth while at the same time we strategise the social conversation around a campaign. It’s quite a wide spectru. We need strategy all the way upstream in how clients make their products and services and all the way downstream into how we socialise our ideas. Looking at it holistically you could say that strategy is no longer just about developing the brand strategies, strategy exists today to make ideas live.

As planners we can impact upon many different stages of the process today and deliver strategies at different stages in the creative process.

We think of Make, as planners being asked to play a more brand consultancy role within agencies. We need to be comfortable leading innovation processes, delivering upstream business strategy, working with product teams to bring insight into the product or service design or deliver socially responsible strategies and initiatives that can drive business growth. Planners are being asked to Make a bigger impact upstream in the process for our clients.

Ideas are still the bread and butter of a planner’s job. Today’s ideas still need the rigours and craft of traditional planning. However I’m sure we’ve all noticed the types of ideas that we are generating as agencies are often quite strategically led platforms, not just advertising campaigns so there are demands on planners to think big to allow for creative executional brilliance within platforms with strong strategic foundations.

Then, more and more, a large amount of our strategic efforts are going into the strategy after the idea. How do we want out ideas to Live in the world? How we connect our creativity, how we map the journey of a campaign, how we socialise it, how we react to real world events. We need to arm our ideas with enough strategic nourishment so they live long and happy lives.

All in a days work. Who’s in?

The people who are in are a young generation of energetic bright sparks. They need all of the classic rigorous planning ability combined with lots of new skills that make them stretch further and faster than any previous generation of planners. So we have designed a course with the IPA to help make them feel useful when all we hear about is the ever-changing nature of the role. This course offers a unique blend of classic planner fundamentals combined with a range of new channel and discipline thinking to help make everyone feel they are not alone in the challenge of making ideas live today. We might even inspire someone to become the world’s first VR strategist. 

To book onto the IPA’s Strategic Planning course, please click here.

Last updated 03/03/2016

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