Account Planning Demystified

The Practical Pocket Guide to Account Planning
by Chris Kocek

Forget the theories. This book shows you what account planners actually do on a daily basis and what the best account planners do when it comes to making advertising that is smart, strategic and culturally infectious. – Author Chris Kocek on his new book, The Practical Pocket Guide to Account Planning

You know you’re working at a great ad agency when some coworkers literally write the book about their career field and others branch out and start their own companies.

GSD&M has seen many examples of this. For instance, Luke Sullivan wrote the bible for advertising creatives, Hey Whipple, Squeeze This, and Bryan Jessee and Mark McGarrah started their own ad shop, McGarrah Jessee.

Chris Kocek has now done both, writing The Practical Pocket Guide to Account Planning and launching his own strategic & design agency, Gallant Branding. After he finished his book, we talked about what it was like to write what could become the definitive resource for account planning.

There are many books about advertising and the business of advertising. What need do you see your book filling? How is it different from others?

I think a lot of books about advertising and strategy are at a 30,000 foot level. They talk about why planning is important, but very few seem to talk about what account planners actually do on a day-to-day basis. Ultimately, I hope this book will give people an “on-the-ground” perspective of agency life from an account planner’s perspective so that planning is a little less mysterious and a little more tangible.

Who do you see as your audience for the book and what do you hope they get out of it?

I hope the book will give new and aspiring planners a better understanding of what experienced planners do so they can hit the ground running on day one. I also hope that it gives creatives, account managers, and clients a better understanding of what planners do so they know how to get the most out of their planning team/department.

What compelled you to write this book?

I talked to a lot of account planners over the years and I kept hearing the same story again and again. And it was a story I knew well from personal experience. Basically, every planner I’ve ever talked to has told me it took them about two years of confusion, chaos, and WTF moments before they really started to have a decent idea of what was going on and what they needed to do to be a more effective planner. I thought a book like this could help reduce that learning period from two years to about two hours.

Since this is your first book, what do you hope to get out of the experience? What was the experience of writing it like? How does it compare to now promoting it?

Who says this is my first book? I’ve got several unpublished books sitting in filing cabinets collecting dust!

Actually, this book started out in a completely different place. I thought it would be a thinly veiled piece of fiction – a bunch of short stories or vignettes from a planner’s perspective about varying assignments and all the insanity that goes into making different campaigns. But then I read Jim Othmer’s “Adland” – hilarious book by the way – and I realized that the book I’d been working on had already been written. Plus, the more I talked to planners and professors and advertising students, the more I realized there might be another opportunity – something a little more practical.

Once I switched gears and went the route of a non-fiction “guidebook,” it actually became a lot easier. Plus, I was doing some guest lecturing at UT-Austin and students kept asking me the same questions, so I started writing a bunch of one-page responses. Before I knew it, I had enough material for a short book.

Promoting the book so far has been interesting. We don’t have a multi-million dollar budget to get the word out there. It’s just a lot of phone calls, emails, and conversations with a very specific group of people – planners, professors and ad students. Hopefully though, if the book gives people what they’re looking for, if it answers their questions in an interesting, organized and entertaining way, then hopefully more people will want to pick it up.

If you’d like to pick it up click here to read more and purchase the book from Amazon or iTunes. www.practicalplanningbook.comThe Practical Pocket Guide to Account PlanningFollow Ben Thoma at @StrictlyCircus

Chris Kocek at @ChrisKocek

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