GTB Australia’s Head of Strategy and AdSchool course lecturer Anuj Mehra says planners are “distracted from their core reason to be”. Here, he shares the importance of the fundamentals in planning, and the one thing that planners should stop obsessing over.

Communication is a two-way street

A good communications strategy is one that evokes a strong response in the hearts and minds of the people it is looking to address.
However, the reality is that there are a lot of mediocre communication strategies out there because they naively believe that ‘message sent’ is ‘message received’. Communication is a two-way street and recognising that there are thinking, knowing people with their own beliefs and biases on the receiving end, is critical to crafting good communication strategies.
The force of any communication is greatly strengthened when the audience rather than being a passive and reluctant receiver, willingly becomes an active participant.

Why planners are distracted

Planners at their best are intellectually curious people that distil complex thoughts into human insights. I feel planners and planning has drifted dangerously away from human feeling and behavior and importantly what drives that.
The unhealthy obsession with ad-tech to somehow consummate the path to purchase is eating a disproportionate amount of planning time. Time that would be better spent focusing on the fundamentals.

Upstream vs downstream

The other challenge planners are facing is not one of their doing. Planners create most value when they work with clients upstream, but the reality is that many are being pulled back ‘downstream’: given more and more short-term, campaign-based project work by cost-conscious clients.

If planners are to move upstream to drive robust brand thinking, they must become more comfortable with commerce.
For agency heads, the question to planners should always be whether they understand how the client makes money. It’s fundamental to being able to bridge the gap between business and culture.

Kicking off in late March, the AdSchool Core Strategic Planning Course is a must-do for planners and strategists at the beginner of their career. Over 8-weeks, students will learn about briefing creatives, evaluating ideas, developing an effectiveness case and the latest research tools and techniques.

Anuj Mehra is co-presenting (with Lily Tidy) AdSchool Core Strategic Planning in Melbourne from March 20.