Northern Planner Andrew wrote last week about why a digitally flavoured agency needs planning.
Which prompted me to comment on his post that I had a post of my own chuntering about in my head about how the maturation of Digital might have created a bit of a conflict between Account Planning and Channel Planning. So here it is:
Ten or twenty years ago (depending on the size of agency and it’s geographical location), Account Planning was the Best New Business Tool Ever Invented (© Jay Chiat). Every agency that was big enough to afford it bought into Planning and put Insight at the heart of it’s business. Then all the big clientside brands put Insight at the heart of what they did too (Nike even hired W&K’s Head of Planning).
And then, in the last couple of years, Digital finally came of age.
Suddenly, there were media and channel options that were measurable yet also cool and cutting edge. In a recessionary environment, it was the answer to client’s prayers – the ability to do activity that was edgy yet ROI-able.
Every agency with a passing knowledge of HTML proclaimed themselves Digital Specialists. So the agencies that really did get Digital upped their game and put some real rigour into the process, introducing proper Channel Planning for their clients.
It almost becomes a numbers game – work out how much stuff you need to sell / how many people you need to change behaviour and work back from there in terms of conversion rates, click through and so on.
But Digital is still about Conversations. Its all very well identifying what the touchpoints are where you could have these conversations – but you need to know what people are likely to want to talk about too. Which is where Account Planning comes galloping back in, waving qual reports.
As Northern says, “Digital stuff hasn’t changed people, its simply enabled them to be more human…humans are social creatures and can’t help responding to others around them, wanting to belong to a group and acting social.
“In other words, it’s not enough to know the technology, you have to know people. You have to build ideas around how real people behave, be relevant, interesting, know when to show up, how to fit into their lives.”
Its chicken-and-egg. What comes first? – finding out where your target audience are most likely to be hanging out, or working out what messages will engage them?
I just worry that as digital becomes an integral part of everything (rather than simply a channel), we might sometimes forget that it is still all about the conversation.
2 thoughts on “Planning is still all about the conversation”
Agree with you Gemma. Have you seen The Conversation Prism which in a quite neat infographic sums up the fact that online is awash with digital conversations albeit of varying nature.
Yes – its on the wall next to Ally Mannock :-)