Also known as...
Senior Strategist; Senior Strategic Planner.
The role in brief...
Senior Account Planners represent the voice of the consumer in the agency. They take a lead role within the team responsible for developing the key strategic insights that underpin advertising ideas, working closely with the client to research the market and understand the consumer. In answer to their client’s business brief they formulate a brand communications strategy, followed by the creative brief that will be used by the agency’s creative teams to produce the creative ideas. They are then pivotal to the creative development process, able to evaluate ideas against consumer insights, research and the underlying client business need. They are also the lead on proving a campaign’s effectiveness and disseminating lessons learned.
- Internal: Account Management team; Head of Planning/Planning Director; Creative teams and directors; Insight Executives, Human Resources/Talent Team
- External: Client Marketing team; Other agencies e.g. Media, Public Relations; Research organisations; Members of the public, via focus groups.
- Senior Account Planners will report into the Head of Planning/Planning Director.
- They will often have line management responsibility for Junior Account Planners and Insight Executives, being accountable for their performance and providing them with professional development opportunities such as training in different types of research or effectiveness.
- Working with clients to fully understand their business objectives, target markets and communications strategy.
- In collaboration with other roster agencies (e.g. Media), analysing and presenting findings from consumer, brand and market research to support the preparation of brand communication strategies and creative briefs. Working closely with the Media Planner is important on subjects such as the correct target audiences, the path to purchase etc.
- Devising and leading qualitative research e.g. focus groups.
- Commissioning and project managing external research (quantitative and qualitative) conducted on behalf of the agency.
- Leading and championing the creative development process, including briefing and enthusing creative teams and providing feedback in response to consumer research findings.
- Analysing and presenting data to demonstrate the effectiveness of campaigns.
- Keeping up-to-date with current and emerging market research trends and methodologies.
- Being experts in what makes people tick e.g. the latest thinking around Behavioural Economics, neurological studies.
- Maintaining a detailed awareness of relevant market trends affecting their accounts, and developments in the wider advertising and communications industry.
- Supporting the new business team and account directors when pitching for new business with existing and potential clients.
- Managing the work, performance and professional development of team members.
Those who succeed are...
- Always asking questions and looking for new insights, endlessly curious.
- Adept in lateral, analytical and strategic thinking, they are able to apply creative thinking to business problems.
- Understand ways of proving how the communications were effective and can present these to others clearly.
- Always looking to write an effectiveness paper for their brands.
- Experienced in differentiating core advertising ideas from their executional treatments, and astute in assessing when these meet the brief and how they will influence behaviour.
- Good at collaboration, for example with the media planners.
- Proven to be capable of guiding and nurturing creative work that meets clients’ briefs.
- Highly numerate and able to understand, mine, interpret and use complex and varied sources of data and statistics to come up with insights.
- Strong and persuasive communicators, able to simplify research and strategic thinking and present findings to clients in an engaging way.
- Fascinated by human behaviour, social trends, culture and how ideas influence people.
- Calmly able to give and receive feedback that supports the development of the agency’s creative work and improves the effectiveness of advertising ideas.
- Knowledgeable about their client’s business and market, and where and how advertising contributes to its success.
- Contribute regularly to new business pitches.
- Focused on the personal and professional development of their team.
- Involved in recruitment and selection decisions.
Where they come from, and where they go...
Senior Account Planners are usually promoted from more junior planning or research roles. Sometimes they may transition into the planning role from an account management position, or from a strategic role in a different type of agency e.g. Media Planner, Digital Strategist or Data Analysts. Senior Account Planners may then progress into agency management as Heads of Planning or Planning Directors. The effectiveness of their campaigns, their relationships with creatives and the senior Account Management team; and their ability to manage a team will determine if and when this promotion happens. In some cases Senior Account Planners may transition into more specialist research roles, or deploy their skills in related organisations such as media agencies. Others may move into marketing roles at client organisations, or ply their trade in a freelance capacity as Strategic Advisors or Consultants, Branding Consultants.
A creative mind is important along with enthusiasm and aptitude for brands and communication.