Communications Planners make the best decisions after investigating the landscape of the brand and business they work on. Robust category and business knowledge allow a planner to clearly understand, define and achieve what a client wants out of their agency team, and why.
There are three key lines of questioning a Communications Planner should investigate in order to firmly grasp where your brand fits in the world: questions to ask of the category, questions to ask of the business, and questions to ask of the consumer. We’ll explore what benefits each question provides below:
Questions to Ask of the Category
Examples of how to investigate the category and how to implement insights.
Category Economic Considerations
How is the category performing?
In order to understand the core of a particular business, it’s important to take a step back and analyze the category as a whole. Has there been an upward trend, or a noticeable decline? These insights help inform what marketing objectives to focus on.
Category Media Considerations
How do competitors buy media?
Understanding how and where your competitors ‘show up’ in the media landscape can help inform what opportunities you have to steal share from or shift focus away from other brands. For example — if you identify a channel in which a competitor brand has demonstrated expertise or placed a substantial investment, you can decide whether or not this space is worthy of your own media investment.
Is there particular occasion/timing associated within a particular category?
Similar to messaging, an analysis of how competitors use occasions and timing can help you spot trends within a category and ultimately distinguish your brand. For example, in 2016 Pedigree noticed that no competitors had spoken about the election and decided to distinguish itself by joining the conversation. The resulting ad highlighted how dogs “Bring Out the Good” in us all, even in times of partisan divide.
Questions to Ask of Business
Examples of how to investigate your brand and how to implement insights.
The Role of Advertising For Your Brand
What role does advertising play?
Understanding the role that advertising plays in driving a brand’s business objectives gives planners insight into the client and agency’s responsibilities. Examining the historical impact of advertising on business can help identify what worked (and failed), ultimately guiding an effective communications and creative strategy.
What is your brand’s share of voice?
As Binet & Field note in The Long and Short of It,
“the most important driver of long-term growth remains the level of share of voice, i.e. the brand’s share of total communications expenditure by the category.”
Investigating how a brand’s share of voice matches up with that of competitors can help you identify room for growth.
Communications Planners are the most impactful when they ensure that a campaign is properly integrated. To make sure that your assets work together, it can be helpful to look at how past campaigns have integrated creative across channels, which mixes worked (or which ones left gaps), as well as any opportunities to use more powerful, innovative platforms.
What are your brand’s distinctive assets?
Byron Sharp’s “How Brands Grow” affirms the value and importance of a brand’s distinctiveness, rather than how it differentiates itself from a competitor. Distinctive assets, or brands’ unique colors, logos, characters, taglines/phrases, fonts, ad style, or shapes, all present enormously strong tools to reinforce brands’ existence to consumers at when considering a product or at the point of purchase. Looking into your brand’s distinctive assets will help you identify how to frame your creative work.
Questions to Ask of the Consumer
Examples of how to investigate consumers and how to implement insights
Consumer Media Behavior
How does your target interact with media channels?
Researching how your target audience interacts with different media channels and which channels capture more of their attention can help inform how and where your brand can show up, improving effectiveness and efficiency.
The questions listed above provide communications planners with the fundamental building blocks of not just the brief. However, this information cannot exist in a vacuum, but must be used to shape and steer creative work to meet your client’s marketing objectives. The next crucial step will be to concisely communicate your insights to creatives.
Originally posted by James Mullally at BBDO New York