When my first ever Planning Director was interviewing me for the job, he asked “when was the last time you were on a bus?”. He had a point.
Its all very well for Account Planners and the like to say that they are ‘always listening’ (actually, I think I like that better than ‘always thinking’…), but inevitably if you’re a Planner you tend to be earning enough money to live somewhere nice and do nice things in your spare time. And most of your friends will probably be in similar circumstances. ‘Always Listening’ in the queue at Starbucks is one thing, but you won’t see many APG members in the chip shop queue in a rundown council estate on a Friday night. And Planners are probably not core target audience for things like Christmas savings clubs, bingo halls or discount retailers. So we (and the people who employ us) can’t assume we automatically understand the people who might be interested in these kind of things.
That’s why I always feel a bit uncomfortable about making insight leaps without some kind of research to work from. Unless the target audience is 30 something horse owning singletons in the North of England, I need some help to put myself in their shoes – even if its just some groups I did with the same target audience on a unrelated subject two months ago and a bit of TGI data.
Particularly now I’m freelance, there does seem to be a bit of an assumption among some marketeers that you can put a Planner on it and Great Insight will rain forth, despite the absence of any kind of data or research into the market or target audience – qualitative, quantitative, desk or otherwise.
I feel like I should put a proviso sticker on the work I produce in these circumstances – this insight is based on nothing more than my own meandering experience.