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Excerpt: “Super Strategist: The Art and Science of Modern Account Planning”

The following abridged excerpt is taken from the introduction of Super Strategist: The Art and Science of Modern Account Planning by Lesley Bielby – available in stores now. It’s the only modern guide to, arguably, advertising’s most vital discipline. In today’s fractured markets clients need to feel confident that their multimillion-dollar campaigns will be disruptive, purpose driven, and culturally relevant—and, critically, supported by up-to-the-minute research and data-driven insights. Written with the passion and wisdom of an active industry veteran, Super Strategist is full of practical advice, strategies, and insights to help newcomers and experienced planners alike find that perfect balance of art and science.


Modern account planners are not one-dimensional. Nor are they “T-shaped.” To survive in an increasingly complex and competitive industry, they need to be “X-shaped,” to borrow a phrase from design thinking. This means that, rather than being highly skilled in only 1 area, they must have multiple skills that draw from various fields, including social, digital, brand, and connections planning, as well as content, user experience, and media planning skills. The strategic planner continues to represent the consumer and make the work better. It is also our responsibility to ensure that the work “works,” by having a strong grasp of data and analytics, the ability to analyze the category and business, being able to track cultural shifts and keep an eye on the competitive set, being skilled in brand development, and, importantly, being able to lead customer journey development—all important tools for the modern strategist.

Your agency is falling behind if it is not training and producing multiskilled X-shaped planners who possess all of these skills, as well as the ability to use a plethora of different research methodologies to truly understand the consumer mindsets, attitudes, and behaviors.

It sounds like a lot and it is. But it’s essential for the well-being of any contemporary agency—and to ensure a bright future for each planner. Earlier white papers and books claimed that advertising never needed account planning. While it may add something extra that had value, it was not critical. Perhaps that used to have some degree of truth to it. Today, however, clients often demand account planners more than all other roles, except creative (quite rightly). I firmly believe that as account planning has become more of a strategic function; it has become absolutely essential.

Super Strategist: The Art and Science of Modern Account Planning by Lesley Bielby – available in stores now.

Excerpted from Super Strategist: The Art and Science of Modern Account Planning by Lesley Bielby. Copyright © 2021 by Lesley Bielby. Excerpted with permission from Figure 1 Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

May 6, 2021
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