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OLEMISS / Marketing / MKTG 304 / What are the typical questions ask by an account planner?

What are the typical questions ask by an account planner?

What are the typical questions ask by an account planner?


School: University of Mississippi
Department: Marketing
Course: Account Planning
Professor: Sparks
Term: Fall 2016
Tags: IMC, Marketing, PopCulture, and Advertising
Cost: 50
Name: IMC304 Midterm Study Guide
Description: This study guide is a nicely organized collection of my personal notes from class, Prof. Sparks' powerpoints, and notes from Hitting the Sweet Spot and A Practical Pocket Guide to Account Planning...which is basically every bit of material that is part of this course. So...enjoy!
Uploaded: 10/02/2016
10 Pages 51 Views 10 Unlocks


What is account planning?

Prof. Sparks

Midterm Study Guide

Important concepts:  

❖ Account Planning – the creation of a strategic plan of communication within  an organization (agency) to influence the people who write and design  communications to do so more efficiently

❖ Why Does it exist?  

o In England in the 70’s  

▪ Stanley Pollitt – The BMP Approach

• Developed the method that someone should extract an early  

indication of consumer response to a marketing strategy

• Wanted planners to be involved in the development of  

creative ideas, strategy, and campaign evaluation

What is the account planner?

▪ Stephen King – The JWT Planning Cycle

• Every account in his agency had a three-person team:

o The account director, who was concerned only with  

the client

o The creative group, who develops and implements  

creative strategies

o The planner, who represents the consumer with

advertising research, strategy development and media  

planning direction

▪ The JWT Planning cycle is as follows:

Where  are we?

What is a insight?

We also discuss several other topics like What is neuron doctrine?

Why are  we  


Don't forget about the age old question of What is non-narrative film?

Are we  getting  there?  



we be?  

How do  

we get  


o Account planning in the U.S.

▪ Jay Chiat of the agency “Chiat/Day” recognized that British  advertising was successful because of account planning, so he hired  Jane Newman of BMP London

• He had three fundamentals in his agency… For  

communications to work, it must…

o Be noticed


Prof. Sparks

Midterm Study Guide Don't forget about the age old question of What is right to privacy?

o Deeply understand and empathize with the  


o Must be on the leading edge of social change  

(cultural truth)

❖ The account planner –

o Represents “the voice of the consumer” in an agency

▪ Finds hidden consumer insights through thoughtful interviews,  ethnographies, surveys, data mining, focus groups, etc

o Interprets insights and determines what the brand needs to say to the consumers so that they will pay attention and ultimately so we can  change their behavior

▪ Account planners typically ask:

• Who are we talking to?

• What do they currently feel, think, or do when it comes to  

our brand our product? Why? Is there a general perception  Don't forget about the age old question of What is the court system on texas/ law and due process?

of this product/brand?

• What do we want them to think, feel, or do as a result of our  


• What are our competitors doing and how do people feel  

about that?  

o Aid in the overall marketing communications strategy (what we  need to say) and the creative work (how we need to say it) o Monitor the impacts and measure the results of their campaigns o What kind of person is an account planner, typically?  If you want to learn more check out What are the ten principles of microeconomics?

▪ Observant

▪ Interested in pop culture, high culture and low culture, usually  giving them a unique perspective

❖ Other types of planners –

o Media Planners – determine how to reach consumers at the most  influential moment  

o User Experience Planners – craft interactive experiences using  technology Don't forget about the age old question of Why are statistics important to science?

❖ Roles in an Agency –

o Account management – directly responsible for client relationships o Brand strategist – decides the direction a brand should be going o Creatives – copywriters/designers; creators of the communication o Integrated production – works with the specs (rebuilding files for specific  media outlets)


Prof. Sparks

Midterm Study Guide

o Communications planners – determine how the brand is going to interact  with consumers

❖ The inquiry and Research Process

“Without research, we are flying in the dark…

no radio, no compass, and no fuel guage.”

– Jon Steele

1. Prepare for Research

a. Brand/Service Experience

i. Observation

ii. Immersion – experience the brand for yourself as a planner  first and note your own experience!

iii. Client information

iv. Questions/Interviews

b. Intuition and Observation to formulate a hypothesis of a  

communications objective

2. Access Resources/Get the Facts (subjective and objective)

a. Primary

b. Secondary

c. Quantitative

d. Qualitative

3. Process/Interpret the Information

a. Information to Insights – using SWOT (strengths, weaknesses,  opportunities, threats) analysis and taking company, competition,  and customers into account  

b. Infer

c. Hypothesize

4. Transferring your Learning – Briefing

a. Creative Strategy

b. Brief

c. Creative Inspiration

❖ So… What is this “sweet spot” anyway?  

o The Sweet Spot is the intersection between brand insight and consumer  insight within a cultural insight

o It keeps the communicator relevant to consumers and helps break  through the clutter to have their message heard

▪ If consumers don’t see something about the brand in themselves,  they aren’t persuaded by it. People don’t persuade people, people  persuade themselves.

o Remember, good communication is a receiver-driven process ▪ Examples given in class:


Prof. Sparks

Midterm Study Guide

• Marlboro Man – planner Leo Burnett found a new way to  

advertise Marlboro cigarettes; connected Marlboros (brand)  

to magazine pictorial on cowboys (consumer); sweet spot –

freedom and independence represented by wide-open  

spaces, a far horizon, and a cowboy relaxing; researchers  

questioned the effectiveness because no one dressed like a  

cowboy anymore, but the planner focused on the feeling the  

pictorial gave the consumer

• Coca-Cola – when consumers decided that Pepsi was better  

tasting than Coke, the company decided to market a “new  

coke”; research “facts” didn’t factor in emotions/feelings of  

loyal Coca-Cola drinkers; return of Coca-Cola Classic  

doubled shelf space and sales overnight

▪ Examples of when companies missed the Sweet Spot:

• Coca-Cola – Coke went to China and tried to make it still  

sound like “coca cola” in Chinese, but their quote actually  

meant “bite the wax tadpole”

❖ insights –

o What’s an insight? – the capacity to gain intuitive knowledge about  someone’s core feelings

o Insights are often not made obvious, so planners have to read between the  lines – that’s why planners must be such original thinkers… to be  successful, they must apply those skills every day, even in their own daily  lives

o How do you even find one?

▪ Get out in the world! You’ll never actually understand people from  looking at data on a computer.  

• Usually a planner starts from a frame of reference, which  means they decide a relevant place to observe others,  

and relevant questions to ask  

• Then compare and contrast benchmark behaviors, feelings,  and ideas of others  

▪ Talk to people, watch people, take notes on what they do in the  context and deduce why they’re doing it.  

• People are complex, emotional, and often irrational; often  

they’ll just tell you what you want to hear, so as a planner  

you’ll need to get past their well-intentioned lies; find the  

information no one is looking at.


Prof. Sparks

Midterm Study Guide

▪ Focus Groups –  

• A focus group is a form of qualitative research in which a group of people is asked about their perceptions, opinions,  beliefs, and attitudes towards a product, service, concept,  advertisement, idea, or packaging.

• The first step is to develop a screener, which is used to sort  out the people the organization does not care to reach within  the focus group; it is a focus group, after all.  

• The moderator is the head of the group; he/she asks open ended questions, sets the pace, and keeps things on track  • The number of participants can range from one to twelve,  but smaller groups are more desirable because a planner  wants to observe both individually and through interactions  with other consumers  

• The planner (occasionally the moderator) will most often  be behind a one-way mirror among the Clients, observing  and taking notes on the participants  

o Example of a successful focus group in class:  

▪ CitiBank – Upon their second round of focus  

groups, the first which had no intentional  

direction, they determined that their  

communication target is the “Retire by 40”  

group and the “money as a means to live well/  

balance-seeker” group. The extracted insight,  

“people don’t care about banks, but they care a  

whole lot about money and its role in their  

lives” became the creative campaign “Live  


▪ Ethnographies -  

• The practice of shadowing a consumer in their own  environment, instead of in a focus group facility  

• A form of qualitative research  

• Allows planners to know what people actually do, not just  what they say they would do – like detective work  

• This is probably the most effective method of extracting  insights because you are seeing peoples’ behavior in  context and you can get a deeper understanding of  their motivations, but it is also more expensive ($50- $100K) and takes a lot more time to complete (2 to 6  months).


Prof. Sparks

Midterm Study Guide

▪ Customer Intercepts –  

• The process of reaching a customer inside the store or right  outside the store to get a quick reading on their perceptions  of the subject  

• Usually very brief because people are usually in a hurry or  are too focused on shopping  

▪ Questionnaires/Surveys –  

• A form of quantitative research that must be very  

meticulously created so to receive the most accurate results  • The three main factors that could skew results:  

o Order bias – make sure the answers are in no specific  order to avoid someone trying to get a specific  

response instead a unique and accurate response  

o Question phrasing – depending on how the question  is worded, it may get very different responses; to  

avoid misinterpretations, put yourself in the shoes of  

the participant  

o Survey length – we’ve all done it. If the survey isn’t  short, concise, and easy to understand…the  

participant may just start clicking on the first answer  

they see to get it over with  

• Public Opinion Survey companies –  

o Roper Center  

o Gallup  

▪ Interviews –  

• Tips on how to listen and take notes in an interview:  o Listen as you would during a normal conversation.  o Try to listen to how people express themselves, just as  much as you’re listening to what they say.  

o Listen for what people don’t say, too.  

o Try not to take everything a consumer says so literally  – people are irrational beings.  

o Don’t filter what people say through preconceived  

ideas of what the marketing or advertising strategy  

should be. Come in with a fresh and open mind!  

• Methods of asking questions:  

o Projective questioning – helps you gain insights  into a person, independent of product use; finding out  how someone thinks of him/herself and what they


Prof. Sparks

Midterm Study Guide

aspire to, may be more useful for positioning a brand  

than knowing how a person uses the product  

▪ Examples of projective questions:  

• Think about your life so far, is there  

anything you’d go back and do  


• If you could give a piece of advice to a  

son or daughter, what would that advice  


• What would you like to be remembered  

for after you’re gone?  

• If you could go forward or backward in  

time, which way would you go, where  

would you go, and why?  

• If you won the lottery tomorrow, how  

would it change your life?  

o Product and Brand Personality – although it  

may come as a surprise, brands and products have  

personalities just as much as people do. Knowing the  

personality of a brand can help you understand its  

strengths and weaknesses.  

▪ Examples of Brand Image questions:

• If ketchup were a person, what would he  

or she be like?

• If you came back as a catalog, what  

catalog would you be?  

o Laddering – a structured process of questioning  

which connects the attributes or characteristics or a  

product to the benefits that the product gives the  

consumer to the values those benefits serve in the  

consumer’s life  

 Attributes -> Benefits -> Values   Attributes + Benefits = What a product is   Benefits + Values = What a product means    

❖ How do we know who we want to reach?

o VALS – using categories of values and lifestyles to create archetypes for  different kinds of people through a combination of psychology,  

demographics, and behaviors; helps select the best target audience,


Prof. Sparks

Midterm Study Guide

understand people’s motivations, identify insights, position the brand, and  communicate effectively.  

▪ VALS breaks society down into 8 archetypes:

• Innovators – usually sophisticated, curious, in charge

• Thinkers – informed, reflective, content

• Believers – literal, loyal, moralistic

• Achievers – self-focused, conventional, status-seeking

• Strivers – insecure, imitative, undisciplined

• Experiencers – trend setting, impulsive, variety-seeking

• Makers – responsible, practical, self-sufficient

• Survivors – nostalgic, cautious, trusting

❖ What’s a creative brief?

o Part of a Planner’s job is to work with the Creatives in order to make  something insightful, inspiring, and grounded in consumer truth;  this is called creative briefing  

o Creative briefing is a very important step in the process between the  planners and creatives. Your job is to inspire the creatives…but how? Here  are a few tips:

▪ Brief with enthusiasm! – your attitude affects your team’s attitude.  If you hand them a sheet of paper and read to them what’s on it…  they probably won’t be inspired…

▪ Control the tempo – consider bringing in a projector and an  

interesting powerpoint

▪ Create a situation room (“war room”) – put some thought into  the room that you meet with the creatives. Set it up with as much  category/competitive imagery as possible

o A creative brief typically answers the questions:

▪ What’s the situation and why are we communicating?

▪ What’s the business objective?

▪ What is the communications objective?

▪ Who are we talking to? (Who is the targ

▪ et audience?)

▪ What do they currently think/feel/do, and why?

▪ What do we want them to think/feel/do?  

▪ What’s the ONE thing we need to say to get them to think/feel/do  that?  

▪ What tone should we take?


Prof. Sparks

Midterm Study Guide

▪ How are we going to measure success? Sales? Web traffic?  


❖ Types of Research –

o Primary research – new research that is carried out by the planner and  organization to answer specific questions

▪ Tailored to your specific research needs

▪ Allows the company greater control over methodology, time frame,  respondents, etc

▪ Gives proprietary information, which is an advantage

▪ Allows the company to select the source (the population sample  from which you collect the data)


Prof. Sparks

Midterm Study Guide

o Secondary research – information gathered from sources such as  competitor reports, BDI, CDI, customer feedback forms, internet articles,  etc; effective because it is free and readily available, but ineffective  because can have source bias or can be generalized

▪ CDI - % of Market Brand Sales x 100

% Market Population

▪ BDI - % of Market Category Sales x 100

% Market Population

o Quantitative research – used to quantify a problem by generating  numerical data that can be transformed into statistics; typically collected  through objective questions on surveys or studies

o Qualitative research – exploratory research; gathering of mainly verbal  data rather than measurements; gathered information is then analyzed in an interpretative manner, subjective, impressionistic or even diagnostic  (words, images, behavior, or objects subjectively interpreted).

❖ Trends & trendspotting –

o What is a trend? - Habits or behaviors currently prevalent among  consumers of goods or services.  

▪ Consumer trends track more than simply what people buy and how  much they spend.

▪ Data collected (secondary or primary) on trends may also include  information such as how consumers use a product/brand and how they communicate about a brand with their social networks

▪ Understanding consumer trends is invaluable to a planner.

o Trendspotting is central to a planner

▪ Observation, ethnography and consumer focus leads to  


▪ Connections with where the consumer will be.

▪ Helps relevance and connection in communications/advertising

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