Want a job as an insight miner?
The job of the account planner is to get under the skin of the consumer who buys the brand (s) from the clients, do research, identify insights, brief the creatives and define brands to appeal to the target consumers. Account planners need to be curious, interested and understand the motivations, lives and buying behaviour of the consumer or ‘target audience’ as they are known. Keeping up with consumer, trade and market trends is another important part of the account planner’s role – these are increasingly fast changing but essential to get insights into what consumers think, feel and do so that sound decisions based on insight are made and the client’s products and services stand out in the right way at the right time and are appealing vs. competitors.
Account planners can be generalists or specialists e.g. digital, creative, brand depending on the size of agency and nature of clients. They start off as junior and can be promoted to senior planner, head of planning or Insights Director. In smaller agencies, the role of account planner and account manager can be combined. Account planning is a good area to do freelance and future careers cam morph into working for think tanks, brand consultancies, market research or self-employed freelance work.
Core skills/experience needed to be an account planner:
- Intelligent rigorous logical and lateral thinkers
- Incisive, insightful and objective
- Understands and passionate about brands
- Interested in ideas and how they persuade people
- Curious about trends and consumer/human behaviour
- Good communication, numerate and presentation skills
- Good at analysis, synthesis and insight mining
- Persuasive and diplomatic representing the voice of the consumer
- Good at clear briefing of creatives and research agencies
- Translate practical features into emotional benefits
- Love ideas and communication/media
- Pragmatic ensuring that the client’s business objectives are achieved and a return on investment/expectation is realised
- Monitoring and tracking of performance and achievement against defined objectives
A ‘day in the life’ of Nancy Rowe, Insights Director, Razorfish London.
Nancy Rowe, 41, is Insights Director at Razorfish London and lives in Beckenham, South East London with her husband and two children.
“Working in a digital transformation advertising agency is a fast paced, multi-faceted business which sees me conducting ethnographic research for a high street brand one day and analysing detailed user behavioural data for a financial services company the next. Razorfish stands at the intersection between advertising, technology and consumer behaviour and as the Insights Director, I never tire of trying to anticipate what consumers will do next, on which devices and how to meet their needs best to gain competitive advantage for the brands we work with.”
7am: Alarm goes off. Still in ‘Mummy mode’ my day begins with coffee (very important), preparing packed lunches for my 10 year old son and 6 year old daughter, breakfast and the usual crazy family mayhem before taking my son to school at 8.30. I take the train and tube to our office in a beautifully renovated art deco building in Great Titchfield Street, just around the corner from Oxford Street tube and I arrive around 45 minutes later, often with my second coffee in hand or in mind!
The day usually begins with a team stand up meeting, this is a short 15 minute meeting at the beginning of the day with all the team members who are working on a particular project. For the last three months I’ve been working on an assignment for a Parisian based Asset Management company, to help define the future of their business in the digital age. We go through what we each have planned for the day and align with each other if we need answers to particular questions or are encountering any issues. It’s a great opportunity to connect in person with everyone working on the project as so much of our time is spent communicating electronically nowadays. I’m a huge believer in the power of face time!
Insight within Strategic Planning focuses specifically on defining the problem we are trying to solve for the brand and the opportunity to innovate. This is achieved through a mixed methodology of conducting desk research using both the internet, but also a suite of syndicated research tools we use at Razorfish to gain a clear understanding of a brand’s business, competitor landscape and target audiences. On the French finance project we are combining this approach with primary research across three European markets and one Asian market, which means we also have to liaise with our Razorfish offices overseas as well as the external research agencies we work with on global projects - a huge bonus for a Modern Languages graduate!
Towards lunchtime, I usually pop to Itsu to gain refreshment – brain food and good for you, then it’s back to the office for another meeting. This time it’s a pitch meeting – we are putting together a proposal for an international airline and pitching is both the best and worst of agency life. Like all agencies tendering for the work, you have a set amount of time during which to prepare your response and as the pitch progresses and everyone becomes engrossed in the work, we often end up working 12 hour days (if not more) obsessed with creating ‘the perfect pitch’.
The pitch meeting is a bit fraught – the user experience and technology teams want to get going with their thinking about the best solution to the client’s brief, but in Insight and Strategy we haven’t quite crystalized the essence of the customer need against the brand proposition and we have to crack that before they can get started – so we agree a ‘straw man’ of principles we believe the final digital service must deliver and agree that we should regroup in a few days’ time. By then, we will have more information back from the primary research to understand how consumers will want to book and manage their air travel in the future. It's then over to the creative and technology teams to work their magic on dreaming up the air travel experiences of tomorrow. It seems obvious but good communication skills, negotiation and diplomacy skills are essential for agency life – so much of what we do is about communicating ideas clearly and effectively, often in an incredibly short space of time, poor communication can make or break a project!
During the afternoon I spend an hour preparing for an event we are hosting at the office that evening for our women’s network VivaWomen! This is one of my ‘passion points’. This evening we are partnering with an external women's NGO called The Circle. An organisation that works to support women who are committed and motivated to transforming their lives. (www.thecircle.org.uk ).
Razorfish women are invited to be trained alongside women who are helped by The Circle in subjects such as body language, negotiation skills and when not to talk - all by a previous hostage negotiator! It's a hugely successful evening and inspiring to witness women from such diverse backgrounds learning from each other and enjoying each other's company.
After a slightly longer day than usual, it's back to the family. We share some food and stories from the day, before tucking the kids in and then falling asleep myself not long thereafter! My days may be full, but they are never, ever boring!