Account planning in Advertising

Account planning is fast gaining prominence in the field of advertising

Have you ever imagined white pot bellied people with thin limbs and egg shaped heads talking in an alien language or an ugly frog turning into a beautiful prince on the touch of a princess? If you thought these were excerpts from these some fairy tales think again. These are some of the successful advertisements of recent times. Right form your infancy to old age, advertisements have always played a big role in influencing your buying decisions. So, if you too are passionate about saying things in a different way and are willing to work hard for it, then advertising is the field to be in.

Let’s throw some light to the working if an ad agency. It houses various departments like creative client servicing media buying and account planning. The client servicing department acquires new clients for the agency and also acts as a liaison between the company and the client, while the creative department, comprising of copywriters art directors and visualizers, converts the client’s brief into an advertisement. The media buying team decides where, when and how many times the ad appears in various forms of media. A crucial link between the client servicing and the creative department that is generally not talked about is the Account / Strategic Planning team.

A creative guy’s role was to think and present things differently. A client servicing guy, on the other hand looked after the needs of the client. He was the client’s representative in the agency. However, there was no one who could give the consumer’s perspective in detail. And that is the reason why the account planner was born. He is the representative of the consumer in the agency.

The main task of an account planner is to understand the consumers thoroughly analyze their buying decisions and derive useful consumer insights. He should know what works and what does not with the consumer. An account planner needs to know where the brand will go in the next five years. The account planner has to a passion for brands and an eye to spot w trends in the industry. Strategic planning is the brain of the agency. You need to keep yourself abreast with what is happening in the domestic and the international market. Being the thinking arm of the client you have to know about the competition the who what and why of the consumer. You primarily have to devise strategies on behalf of the client to sell their product. These strategies once approved by the client conveyed to the creative department. The strategies serve as goals to be received by the campaign.

Agencies look out for analytical minds, someone who is research oriented, reads a lot and can bring a fresh perspective on the table. A typical day in an Account planner’s life comprises client meetings, making presentations reading research material and talking to the creative department about the strategic proposition. The day starts at nine in the morning and ends as late as nine in the night.

Most account planners in the country are MBAs in Marketing but that need not always be the case. The agencies are open to accommodating people from different backgrounds like psychology, anthropology arts and literature Planning at the end of the day is about perspectives and a variety of backgrounds do serve the purpose. These are very few positions for entry level trainees in planning. Most agencies would prefer someone with experience in client servicing or market research to join their teams, tempered by experiences. However some agencies do recruit fresh MBAs from top business and communication schools of the country at an average package of Rs 3 – 5 lakh p.a.

Colleges also help in enhancing the required skills. At MICA the second year students can choose to specialize in Account planning in which ad agencies like JWT, O&M and Mudra offer live cases to work on. The students have to study consumer behavior problems in the cases and come up with solutions. Besides they also have short courses like writing appreciation and understanding creative brief. Market research is also a subject which majority covers the skills required for account planning.

The Indian Advertising industry comprises only 1 per cent of the global industry and is worth Rs 21,000 cr. However, the amount spent on advertising in India is less than 1 per cent of the GDP whereas the average amount spent across the globe is around 3-4 per cent. The advertising industry in India is growing at the rate of 15 percent since 2000. It makes ad films for goods worth Rs 315,000 cr. This coupled with growing purchasing power rise in the number of young middle class and reviving Indian economy, confirms that the mad ad world is going to get madder by the day and account planning provides a unique career opportunity to bring strategy analytics and sociology together.