The phrase “failing to plan is planning to fail” certainly applies to the world of advertising.
In order to meet a client’s requirements, all ad campaigns need to be planned meticulously and detailed briefs need to be defined and developed. Otherwise the ‘creatives’ would go off in their own little world and start bouncing ideas around without a second thought for the client’s objectives. This is where advertising account planners come into play!
Advertising account planners are responsible for planning, defining and implementing the creative brief for new ad campaigns. They provide projects with strategic direction and define the guidelines from which the creative team can work their magic.
Essentially, advertising account planners provide the foundations for the awe-inspiring and exciting ad campaigns that we see when we’re walking down the street, reading the newspaper on the way home, surfing the web or watching TV.
If you enter this profession, you’ll be meeting with your client and leading detailed discussions to understand their objectives.
After this consultation period, you’ll be analysing your notes and developing a good general impression of what they want to accomplish and how it might be achieved.
The next step involves conducting tons of market research and collecting information about consumer behaviour.
Following this research process, you’ll be deciding on the right audience to target and figuring out the best way for campaigns to have the desired effect on the consumer.
You’ll be keeping your finger on the pulse of social trends at all times and developing an insightful understanding of how to grab people’s attention, influence them and subtly help them to develop a relationship with a brand and its advertising campaigns.
Based on all of this analysis and research, account planners will liaise with the creative team and write a detailed campaign brief to help them understand the optimal angle from which to go about creating innovative ideas.
Finally, you’ll be supporting account managers in gaining client approval by helping out with presentations and feedback sessions.
Salary & benefits
Annual salaries for account planners in the early stages of their careers range between £18,000 and £25,000, while planners with more experience can earn between £25,000 and £40,000 per annum.
Once you progress to the very top positions in an integrated advertising agency, you could earn anywhere between £50,000 and £170,000 a year.
Travelling to meet clients is a regular fixture and you will often have to work extra hours in order to meet campaign deadlines. However, working during national holidays and weekends is uncommon.
It’s even possible for experienced account planners to set up their own ad agency or work on a freelance basis.
The competitive nature of the advertising industry means that you will need a strong undergraduate degree to break into this line of work (2.1 minimum). Applicants with degrees in any discipline are welcome!
It’s also highly advisable that you gain work experience with advertising or marketing agencies before submitting those job applications.
Training & progression
In large, integrated ad agencies, training and development is mainly facilitated through structured graduate development programmes. These programmes combine formal training sessions with hands-on experience across several appropriate departments.
You will most likely work under the supervision of an experienced member of staff for the first few months of employment. The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) also offers training programmes for account planners who wish to develop their skills later in their careers.
Career progression is driven by individual performance, professional expertise and experience. A typical career path for advertising account planners involves becoming a senior account planner, an account management executive, an advertising account manager, a senior manager and finally, an account planning director.