Tips on digital planning

I wrote this a couple of years ago, before I had a blog, and it seemed to still ring true. I was pointed in the direction of this fine article on digital planning, which has prompted me to post my own take on how to approach digital planning or rather planning in a digital agency.

Don’t be ruled by technology – Think what technology consumers are using or is accessible and of value. Don’t let digital media drive your ideas, work towards an idea and then think about how that can be executed across digital media.

Don’t settle for agreed thinking and assumptions – Clients will often think that they have cracked the key proposition and creative idea (in conjunction with the ATL agency) and that there is no alternative way to interpret or improve on it. Push clients perceived views and drive their thinking forward, make them realise that a brand can be invigorated and reinvented online. Get ready to take the lead when an idea feels generic and uninspiring.    

Understand what role digital plays and could play in aspects of the business including communications. Think how communications and creative ideas will help them develop the brand and business within this context.  

Be brave – you will be suggesting new things for a brand, you can’t be sure of the results and so, on occasion, be prepared to fail.

Choose your dialogue or dialogues carefully, whether they be one to one, one to many, one to few. Understand the depth and breath of what you are trying to do. Don’t chase eyeballs, but look for the right people and make them want to part of what you are doing.   Be a realist, be grounded in what people think of marketing and let it work for you. Offer something that people actually want.    

Don’t fall into the trappings of old. In whatever medium the consumer doesn’t want to be interrupted. The bulk of new media still using old media thinking and techniques – we should earn right to communication, giving value beyond the message, no matter how well executed.

Know everything, see everything, and discuss everything. The broader your knowledge views and experience of the world the better you will be as a planner.

Be Resourceful as you will often have limited resource to draw on. Don’t get bogged down in research, develop a strong creative instincts built on sound judgement. Let research provide the context for your thinking and act as spring board to great creative strategy.  

Be part of the creative department – You are part of the creative department and you should show and enable that the rest of the agency to be part of it too.  As many digital briefs manifest themselves beyond standard executions, the whole agency should be part of the creative process. As part of this ethos, know when and how to open up the brief. Sometimes a creative team are best left to work out on the creative solution, sometimes you need a tight cross discipline teamed, sometimes you need to get as much creative input from as many sources as possible and then hone down to find the key idea. Think long and hard about who should be involved in getting the best work out of any brief.   

Think integrated – Be aware of all marketing activity and how digital fits into this. Understand the thinking and strategy of all partner agencies and work in collaboration whenever possible.  Understand that people have vested interests in old media models and don’t get frustrated by it, as the tide is turning.     

Most importantly, embrace and celebrate chaos – what is a threat to a static old media model is the strength of our thinking and ideas. Thrive off unpredictability and embrace the open, complex and ever-changing digital world that brands have to play in.  After all, this ever changing and unpredictable world is what makes planning in digital interesting and exciting.   


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