Home > Planning > Account Planning As We Know It, Is Dead
  1. June 14, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    My perception is that the profession is experiencing a natural progression in a rapidly changing world. Even jobs that on their face appear less tied to technological or societal shifts are in a state of rapid flux as they adjust to our quickly evolving economy, technology, the aftermath of the recession, a new client landscape, etc. Your wise, overarching point seems to be that planners need to broaden their skill set, tools, and perspective. My feeling is that such advancements are now not only important for most jobs – but essential. In this sense, I see the suggested title change from account to strategic planner as an accurate reflection of the profession’s inevitable growth, rather than its re-birth.

    • June 17, 2010 at 4:29 pm

      Ben – thanks for your great comments. No doubt that most planners recognize that they have to broaden their skill set, to remain relevant. Being “ambidextrous” is what defines a good “strategic planner.” I guess depending on who you are – that might require a metamorphosis or re-birth. After a recent hiring initiative – I’ve been amazed at how many people are stuck in the straight-jacket of being a classically-trained planner who’s unwilling to reinvent themselves.

  2. Lauren
    June 17, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    Perhaps it is because I am a very recent college graduate, but I always believed that this is how account planning is currently. Granted, I have yet to work with an firm that employees account planners, so I can only base my opinion on what I have learned and practiced throughout college. I do completely agree with you, though. I believe that great insights can come from anywhere and anyone, and if you do not broaden your perspective you are in danger of overlooking the most intuitive insights.

    • June 17, 2010 at 4:35 pm

      Lauren, it’s refreshing to hear that what your learning at school is in-tune with the more progressive defintion of what planning can be. You’d be amazed as to how the “old-school of planning” is still being adhered to by many planners today – especially at some of the big agencies. You’re so right when you say that “if you do not broaden your perspective you are in danger of overlooking the most intuitive insights.” That’s what good planners do; they understand that intuitive insights can sometimes be the most powerful.

  3. Cynthia Bates
    February 14, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    This thoughtful posting raises a compelling question: What’s in a name–should we define our profession, or allow ourselves to be defined (often by default) by our profession? Especially, as your title suggests, the existence of this profession as currently configured is inceasingly problematic. As anyone knows who has ever tried to explain their job to a non-avertising/media colleague or friend, account planning is the Holy Roman Empire of professions: a kind of none-of-the-above, not strictly planning, not exactly account, but really, it’s all about the brand-consumer relationship in the total context of business, culture, and society, across all dimenions–professional, personal,online, etc. What phrase can gracefully wrap all of that up in a concise and precise conceptual package?

    Your suggestion of redefining/reinventing the profession as Strategic Planning is a solid step forward, especially by focusing more on the competitive landscape. But outside of the advertising & media context, Strategic Planning has a very business-specific meaning of long-term capitol planning and resource allocation toward future growth goals–and the confusion is evident to anyone who has searched the online jobsites for “Planning” positions (Strategic, Account & other permutations). I agree stronlgy with you that Planners need to develop broader and deeper focus on the business stratgey issues, including the competitive marketplace (maybe even to the point where those of us with MBAs don’t have to feel this somehow makes us less creative & intuitive). And some agencies already use this term–but there is a potential for confusion. And should we call ourselves after an established profession, when we are a relatively new and evolving profession?

    I’ve seen the variant Brand Planning, which shifts the focus from the “voice of the consumer” cliche (still true, like many cliches, but far more evolved) to the brand, specifically the consumer-brand relationship. But the brand relationship extends to constituencies beyond the consumer, including the business/investment community, the non-profit arend, the government & regulatory agencies and increasingly, an array of global communities, not to mention popular culture. Our professional designation should encompass that.

    Maybe we need to brainstorm across the entire profession to evolve a new professional designation, one that references brands, consumers, the competetive & cultural landscape–perhaps as sesssions at Planning conferences, maybe taking your title, Account Planning as we Know it is Dead. Your insight and inspiration would be most welcome.

    (PS I no longer call myself a Planner but a Brand Anthropologist, drawing on my academic background in Anthropology to provide the broader & deeper cultural context. I also have the ambiguously-regarded MBA, to balance out the right brain/left brain thing)

    • February 15, 2011 at 3:22 am

      Cynthia – thanks for your great comments. I think you’re right, “planning” is being reborn – and as an industry we have yet to figure out what to call it.

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