This week we get an insight into the mind of an agency planner - namely, Nicky Lloyd of Six.

Before we get stuck in, remember if you've got itchy feet yourself, you could do worse than checking out all the digital marketing and ecommerce jobs listed over on the Econsultancy jobs board.

Econsultancy: Please describe your job: What do you do?

Nicky Lloyd: My role as a planner sees me work horizontally across the agency with clients who have strategic needs from brand development and marketing strategy to employee engagement. Acting as the bridge between account management and the creative team I look to ensure that the voice of the customer is central to our creative strategy and is reflected in the customer journey.

It’s all about relevance, distinctiveness and effectiveness. Creating solutions that are human centred and engage with the hearts and minds of audiences whatever the channel or touchpoint. 

E: Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?

NL: I report directly to the managing director and alongside my role I support the senior leadership team in the development of our own proposition and new business strategy. 

E: What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?

NL: It's a role that really demands you to use both the right and left-hand side of your brain. You need to be analytical, detailed and focused one minute and in the next moment creative, engaging and flexible. 

nicky lloyd

Nicky Lloyd, agency planner at Six

E: Tell us about a typical working day… 

NL: I might be undertaking research with customers and stakeholders to understand their needs and building a brand or digital strategy to support these one day and undertaking a channel review and forming a media strategy the next.

E: What do you love about your job? What sucks?

NL: The best thing about my role is the variety of businesses and sectors I get to work with and the people that I meet as part of the journey. Whether that is as part of a stakeholder team or through my research with consumers. I’ve explored client side roles in the past and although they can be very rewarding I know that agency life suits my personality and voracious desire to learn and embrace new challenges.

What sucks? Not having enough time, sometimes cloning seems like a good solution ;)  

E: What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success? 

NL: My personal goals are to continue to grow the strategic offer at Six and to develop a team which includes specialist planners from disciplines such as data and analytics, media planning and customer experience so that we can continue to support our clients and hold customer needs as a central thread in everything that we do. 

In terms of planning tools and metrics I have a marketing ROI calculator which comes in handy for large scale planning and I use reporting tools to capture multi-channel media performance, analytics and leads.

E: What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?

NL: I use a variety of planning tools from brand planning models to research tools like Fresco, Acorn, Neilson and media planning tools like BRAD, AdDynamix, and Adwords.

E: How did you get into media planning, and where might you go from here? 

NL: Media planning is only one part of my varied role. My first challenge was the development of a regional above the line advertising campaign using both off and online channels. The campaign which ran in the late 1990’s had a media budget of £500,000 and included TV, press, OOH and digital display. I worked closely with PHD to ensure that we could get the most effective return from our budget and we went on to win the Cream Grand Prix award, Young Director of the Year and be nominated at the Cannes festival.

Since then I have worked in conjunction with a whole host of media buying agencies and SEO specialists to ensure that the campaigns we deliver generate the right amount of reach, OTS ('opportunity to see') and precision to encourage interaction and generate sales and or qualified leads.

Paid media is of course only part of the story and as a planner I ensure that we use all the communications touchpoints available to us whether that's through paid, earned, shared or owned media (PESO). It is also essential that the destination supports the purchase journey and as such much of our time is spent developing rich content with simple user journeys and clear calls to action within the digital channel to encourage engagement.

E: Which brands do you think are doing paid media well?

NL: According to the IPA, brands that use paid media in conjunction with earned and owned media typically grow three times faster than those that rely on earned and owned media alone. Adding television increases effectiveness by 40% and it’s also the best medium for generating top-line growth that drives profit, with a 2.6% average market share point gained per year.

Adding TV and online video together gives a 54% increase in the average number of what the IPA terms “very large” business effects, versus 32% for television only and 25% for online video only. The most profitable campaigns have 60:40 ratio of long-term brand building media (broad reach, highly emotive) and short-terms sales activation (tightly targeted and information rich).

Brands like Nestle, Jack Daniel’s and Heineken have made a return to the classic brand + response model. However, in the wider market, there still seems to be a focus on short-term activation rather than long-term brand building. I’ve had conversations with a number of clients in the past where campaigns created to educate and build brand awareness have morphed into direct response campaigns through the adoption of a misguided media strategy that focuses too heavily on PPC and digital display to the detriment of the original brief. 

E: Do you have any advice for people who want to work in planning at an agency?

NL: Planning is such a varied discipline it fulfils so many roles from: market researcher, data analyst, futurologist, NPD consultant, media/communications planner, strategy developer, think piece polemicist, insight miner and social anthropologist. As such there are many different routes into planning whether you start your journey on the account management side or as part of the creative team or if you come from a media-sales background the main thing you need is a good grounding and understanding of the creative process and a passion for working with people and a thick skin.

Some of the larger agencies also offer internships and junior planning roles where you can shadow a senior executive and learn the ropes. If you are interested in working in planning head to apg.org.uk to find out about courses and hear from leading planners who are shaping our industry.

Ben Davis

Published 18 September, 2017 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is Editor at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at ben.davis@econsultancy.com, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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