Archive for the ‘PLANNING/STRATEGY’ Category

How Do You Explain Digital Strategy To Your Parents?

I really love this new deck by Amber Horsburgh, which does a great job of breaking down Digital Strategy in a way that’s easy for anyone to understand.



H/t Planning Tools & Hacks


Why Strategists Need to Focus on Simplicity

January 16, 2013 Leave a comment


Just discovered a great post from Adliterate that was published in October 2012 (thanks @media_reveries). The whole thing is worth a read, but this passage stood out to me:

“Perhaps the greatest skill of any planner is the ability to simplify the complexities of life so that people can get to work on a solution. Simple strategies, simple ideas, simple briefs, simple conversations and simple feedback. Simple but never simplistic. That’s why planners like shapes – triangles, wedges, concentric circles and venn diagrams – they help present thinking in a simple way that’s easy for everyone to understand. Without doubt the the greatest crime of any planner is to make things unnecessarily complex.”

I also like this bit: “An old boss maintained that in interviews she looked for the people that spoke in analogies – they were the ones that made great planners,” since my old Planning Director at CP pointed out that this is one of my biggest strengths.

Read more: What Planners Need – Adliterate

You Know Nothing About Marshall McLuhan

March 17, 2010 Leave a comment

H/t to The Ad Contrarian for this gem:

I wish there was a version of this video for self-appointed Social Media Experts.

Categories: PLANNING/STRATEGY Tags: ,

Best of the Web – Week Ending Sept. 25th

September 25, 2009 Leave a comment

A collection of the most interesting things I’ve found this week. Lots of great stuff for Planners and Strategists.

SecretToCreativityh/t Faris Yakob on Tumblr

87 Cool Things from Google at Adweek 2009

Google Internet Stats – Nice resource for Planners and Strategists.

YouTube: Fast.Forward – Google and The Wharton School have partnered to gather and provide quick perspective on managing the change in the marketing landscape.

How To Be A Better Brand Planner via BrandTwist

Planner Reads – Project by Bud Caddell aggregating the most shared content from Planners and Strategists. Sign up here – the more, the merrier.

Nine Scientifically Proven Ways to Get Retweeted on Twitter via Fast Company

Nice collection of downloadable articles on, mostly written by John Griffiths, who writes the furtherandfaster blog

Download the first edition of Dsplaced magazine, “an experiment in collective storytelling” by two Strategists, Jinal Shah and Mansi Trivedi

Open Book Test for Planners: The interview questions I ask and why by Scott Karambis on the Please Feed The Animals blog

One of my favorite videos this week. It’s an ad for Allan Gray investing that explores what would have happened if James Dean didn’t die so young:


Simple Strategy

CreatingDeliberateValueeverythingnewisdangerous on Flickr

I read an old Russell Davies post today, “My Schtick” that somehow missed my radar up until now, and I thought he said something really profound which I wanted to share:

“What people actually want is stuff with some complexity, some meat, some richness. Stuff that has depth, humour, tension, drama etc etc. Not stuff that’s distilled to a simple essence or refined to a single compelling truth. No-one ever came out of a movie and said “I really liked that. It was really clear.” Clarity is important to our research methodologies, not to our consumers.”


One of the first things we learned at Ad school was how to write a creative brief and how to whittle our research down to a Simple Most Important Idea (SMPI). This SMPI was meant to serve as a springboard for our creative team to develop their executions.

But Davies’ post and some things I’ve been reading in Stephen King’s “A Master Class in Brand Planning” are beginning to shift my thinking to a strategic approach that uses a patchwork of ideas to inspire creative thinking.

I don’t mean to say that we should throw a huge information dump at our creatives – part of our expertise as Strategists is digging through research to find what’s especially inspiring, interesting and most of all, relevant. It does, however, seem that the current Planning process being used, in it’s endeavor to simplify things and keep them nice and neat, is 1) stifling Planners’ creativity 2) causing Planners to work with blinders on and possibly missing some things in the process that can be useful for brand building. Rory Sutherland writes in “A Master Class…” :

“At one level, it matters to me as a creative person because, in maintaining the pretence that our business works through a rational and sequential process, I feel we are perpetrating a minor fraud. And the victim of this fraud is creativity itself. Because in suggesting in our case studies that we arrived at success through process, we are falsely paying to logic a debt that we really owe to magic. The magic of imagination, or insight. And, as a result, we are causing the left-brain to be overvalued at the expense of the right.”


This makes me think about storytelling as it pertains to Planning. The word “story” has multiple definitions, but I especially like this one:

— the plot or succession of incidents of a novel, poem, drama, etc. —

Therefore, by definition, a story is not singular in nature. A story is layered and complex and this is what draws in an audience, among other things.

Take a look at this recent campaign from Stella, a classic example of brands telling engaging stories:

The marketing campaign for “The Dark Knight” is another example, I think, of taking a much more multi-layered approach to brand building.

A brand can be an ongoing narrative, but I feel like many Ad campaigns are treated as finite events. If anything, they have infinite potential. This is why Hollywood pumps out so many sequels. It continues the narrative. We’re brought back to a story that’s familiar and curiosity, more than anything, makes us want to continue the story and see where it goes.

Rick Webb, co-founder of The Barbarian Group, seems to share my sentiment in a recent AdAge article titled “Agencies Need to Think Like Software Companies“:

What they should have been taking away all of this time — and have increasingly begun to — are the concepts of the constant beta and agile development,” he says. “Marketers need to abandon the time-limited campaign online and start to think of it as a constant application of a rigorous discipline. They should think of their marketing the same way that Facebook puts out a new feature every two weeks, tweaks it, changes it, and re-releases it. It’s not a coincidence that’s brought Facebook 400 million users and Twitter 40 million. We’ve been applying them to for three years now and have seen results beyond anything that a single campaign could do on its own.”


There’s another problem I see with using a method of finding a single truth:

If everyone has access to the same basic data, and strips that data down to the barest idea, we’ve all basically arrived at the same point – this is one reason so many ads look the same.

One of the strengths of a Planner is our ability to interpret relevant data in a way that will inspire and focus our creative teams, but I think we need a happy medium here: Too much information is useless and makes us act as pure researchers — too little and we may be missing opportunities to develop an ongoing story and build better brands.

I’d love to hear some thoughts in the comments!!


3 Blogs Every Planner Should Read


When I worked in the mortgage business, I would always look outside of my industry to see what other people were doing to be successful. Then I would figure out how I could adapt those key methods and apply them to my business.

It’s the same thing when you’re reading blogs: there’s some great ones out there that are specific to Planning but I think we can learn a lot from blogs that focus on other topics.

Here’s some non-Planning sites that I think can be really beneficial to Planners looking for outside ideas, information or inspiration.


I love this blog. It’s a combination of technology and productivity that “recommends downloads, web sites and shortcuts that help you work smarter and save time.” Although it can be a little techie for me sometimes, I think the site is great for the non-tech types that want to learn how to take advantage of all the great tools on (and often off) the web.

Presentation Zen

One of the most effective skills a Planner can develop is presenting. According to one of my recent Planning instructors, being a great presenter is the main thing that will move you past being a Junior Planner to a more senior role. There’s so much great information on this site; I think it’s absolutely essential for anyone who wants to learn how to become a better presenter and storyteller.

The Big Picture

The Big Picture is a photo blog for the Boston Globe that takes a simple concept – posting very large AP-style photos – and creating something really special I haven’t found anywhere else on the web.

The Big Picture is intended to highlight high-quality, amazing imagery – with a focus on current events, lesser-known stories and, well, just about anything that comes across the wire that looks really interesting.

It’s photojournalism at its best. As cliche as it sounds, the photos really do tell stories. They show us what’s going on in the world, and I think they help connect us to cultural events (like the Presidential inauguration, Mumbai attacks, etc.) in a way that one can only do visually.

I hoped you liked the list! What are three of your favorite non-Planning blogs?

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