Thursday, July 30, 2009

The secret of being promoted - A sneak peek at part 1 of Heather's World Famous Account Planning Survey!

If you don't know her already, you should. Heather is an international strategist at DDB and the author of the loved planning blog "buy me and i'll change your life."

But, every year she does something that can only be described as epic.

She interviews the entire planning world.

Why is that so important? For most of the year, the voice of Account Planning is the voice of it's leaders, public speakers, and the plannersphere. Their wisdom guides us and inspires us, but the voice of planning as a whole is silent.

But, once a year, planning grows a central nervous system and comes close to feeling its whole body all at once. And when that happens we get a glimpse of who we really are and what we really stand for.

That is why the annual account planning survey is so important for all of us. It's a mirror into the very soul of our industry.

This year the survey was the best yet. Participation has been through the roof, and Heather is busy distilling 100 pages of raw answers into 40 pages of premium planning wisdom. Cheers to Heather and all her hard work! Bravo!

But, we must wait for that. For now, we just get a sneak peak.

Heather has given us the raw answers to one subject. What makes a planner ready for a promotion? This was asked to Planning Directors only and covers all levels from assistant planner up to group planning director.

To quote Heather..."let the games begin…"

4 years of Account Planning Survey's from Heather Lefevre!





Wednesday, July 15, 2009

FAST COMPANY ARTICLE: Design Is a Point of View: Seven Truths in Designing

Here's a great article by Brett Lovelady, for Fast Company. Brett is the founder and driving force at ASTRO Studios of San Francisco, a company he launched in 1994. Within a short time, ASTRO has become an international design powerhouse by designing industry leading products and brands for companies like Nike, Microsoft, HP, Alienware, Herman Miller, Xbox, Virgin and many more. In the past decade, ASTRO has won numerous design and industry awards, including 2 prestigious BusinessWeek/IDSA Design of the Decade Awards, for both NIKE Triax Sportwatches and Kensington Smartsockets and was featured as one of Fast Company's Fast 50 in 2003.

In the article below, Brett outlines ASTRO's Design Theory.

Quoted from:

1. DESIGN is a point of view.
Many people believe design equals the visual object or result of the presentation skills a creative person creates; pictures, models, sketches, photos. I believe that design happens prior to these results and is actually about taking an original idea and applying a point of view by translating it into presentable, tangible elements for ease of sharing with others. Good designers happen to have talents or skills that allow them to make their point of view tangible, but that's not enough. Designers should be engaged due to their ability to create and support a strong point of view first, followed quickly by their ability to produce the goods.

2. PEOPLE are our ultimate clients.
As designers, we collaborate with a lot of other disciplines to bring our designs alive. We often come up with the vision for a program, develop the details and then spend a lot of time protecting the original design intent through production. But after these efforts are complete, they matter little. The end results are all people see, experience or remember. No one typically cares how you got to the result--the battles, the compromises, the inspirations--they only know the final product. Because of this, I believe that as the other disciplines cover their specialties, designers should be the end-user advocates through the entire program, reminding the team that people are our ultimate clients.

3. EMPOWER individual creativity.
We've all heard the term "design by committee" or possibly the old maxim that a camel is a horse designed by a committee. And I strongly agree. It's very difficult to create groupthink around multiple points of view. It's great to voice them, collect them and prioritize them, but to avoid camels, I recommend empowering one ultimate individual you trust to become the director and keeper of the vision. Empowering individual creativity also ensures a higher level of passion, focus, commitment and ownership for the results.

4. PROACTIVE over reactive.
You can wait to be told what to do when someone else takes the lead and imposes their directives. Or you can identify opportunities, then take things into your own hands and provide options, ideas and leadership. A favorite mantra at ASTRO is "I'd rather get a speeding ticket, than a parking ticket." Of course, approval for certain levels of involvement are necessary, but I believe designers are leaders, and should be proactive over reactive.
5. DESIGN is not a democracy. Democracies are fine, mainly for collecting diverse input. But they can kill design. Often too many opinions water down the clarity of the design intent. I've had many clients where there are way too many brilliant people involved in programs. They find it their duty to provide all the alternative solutions or insights to every program--always broadening the thinking--instead of focusing on decision-making. If not for the benevolent dictatorship of the program director in these programs, they would never reach the goal. Design requires focused leadership, not democratic consensus.

6. CULTURE is the key to soulful work.
Designers are kinda like plants (I know, I know...but it's a good visual). They really need an environment that supports their needs. I believe they need sunlight, nutrients, good weather, conversation, or music, maybe a hug, pruning, cleaning and sometimes transplanting. On top of all of that, they need space to express themselves individually, even while being part of a greater identity. Burying designers in cubicle-land, away from other creatives or off in isolation can be effective for those who have strong wills to survive, but for more relevant, beautiful, inspiring results, designers need a culture of design stimulus. They need environments that feed their visions and help them reflect and generate more soulful work.

7. CHALLENGE anything.
I like to tell the designers I work with to simply ask questions: There are no bad ones except the ones you don't ask. And to not take everything at face value, especially if your gut tells you otherwise. It's always good to immerse yourself in data, but it's best to digest it like fuel for the process, not take it as absolute gospel. Notice I said challenge 'anything' and not 'everything.' The idea is to think about what you're creating, but not overthink it. Learn to trust your instincts and intuition, especially once you've digested all the information. I believe the magic of design can really occur when you challenge convention with confidence, then apply design talent and skills to make everything look super sweet.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


This site always seems to get access to the latest scientific research before anyone else. Use it to stay up to date on the latest academic studies.

Here's a recent study of interest: the fall of an item’s popularity mirrors its rise to popularity

Monday, July 13, 2009

Planning Blog Aggregation Magic! THE PLANNER COLLECTIVE

Whoa! Look at this aggregation wizardry! Several popular account planning blogs have been corralled into one continuously uploading webpage. And, it even gives you a sweet little mouse over pop up with the posts. Excellent work Brent Terrazaz! We salute you! CLICK!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Continum's “Resonance,” a Short Film on Planning

An short film by Continuum called “Resonance,” talks about the importance of consumer insights in generating design ideas. While most of us will be familiar with their approach and methodologies, it is a worthy case study of a clear presentation of services that caries a sense of transparency and honesty.

Resonance from Continuum on Vimeo.

Anomaly, BBH, Trumpet, And Fuseproject discuss how account planning is helping agencies are build their own brands.

Force the government to contact you as soon as new numbers are available!

If you are a US marketer and are not already on the US Department of Labor's email mailing list, click here, sign up and always be the first to know when key numbers change!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

MRS (Market Research Society) Code of Practice principles

In "What is Account Planning" The official Account Planning Group's document that defines the field written by Merry Baskin in 2007. Mary writes,

"We believe quite strongly that market research craft skills (and adherence to MRS (Market Research Society) Code of Practice principles) are the backbone of the planner’s platform."

"If you can’t devise, conduct, analyse, report on and monitor surveys objectively, how can you possibly hope to judge their usefulness or commission them appropriately? The planner should never assume that the researcher is the sole expert. Elements of questionnaire design, the way a question is phrased, for example, can fundamentally affect the outcome of the study. Black box modeling techniques may be so much impressive theory but they can critically enhance or destroy projects. Planners need to be able to ignore, challenge or exploit such things from a perspective built on understanding or on at least something more solid than assertion and prejudice."

So, what is the MRS (Market Research Society)? And What are these Code of Practice principles?

About The Market Research Society

With members in more than 70 countries, The Market Research Society (MRS) is the world’s largest association serving all those with professional equity in provision or use of market, social and opinion research, and in business intelligence, market analysis, customer insight and consultancy. In consultation with its individual members and Company Partners, MRS supports best practice by setting and enforcing industry standards. The commitment to uphold the MRS Code of Conduct is supported by the Codeline service and a wide range of specialist guidelines. MRS contributes significantly to the enhancement of skills and knowledge by offering various qualifications and membership grades, as well as training and professional development resources.

How to Join The Market Research Society

Here's a link to a PDF with information about joining the MRS: About a MRS Membership

And here's a Link Directly to the membership page!:

The Membership Options are:

Regular Membership - $115
Student Membership - $30
Unemployed Membership - $30
Retired Membership - $30

And here is a document that provides and
overview of MRS's Code of Practice principles.