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4 Tips For More Successful Media Planning

media planning

What are the keys to getting the most out of your relationship with a media planner? Jonathan Cotton picks some big brains at MediaCom to find out.


From research and insight to negotiating better rates and juggling sophisticated omni-channel campaigns, media planning and buying agencies help marketers make better decisions and get better results from their marketing spend. Here’s four top tips from two media minds in the know:

Tip one: Bring your baggage

By the time you’re talking to a media planner you’ve likely got the basics sorted already – target audiences, conversion goals, marketing budgets etc.

So what’s your actual business challenge?

“I ask clients to start by giving us the context of their business challenges,” says Rikki Townsley, head of strategy and solutions at MediaCom.

“And from a strategist point of view, I always want to know the business challenge. I want to explore those consumer insights, brand insights, look at the category, the competition, what’s happening in the market, what people are doing, what they’re engaging with, before we dive straight into planning media.”

In the early stages it’s about helping your media planner understand as much market context as possible. So what are the consumer forces at play for you? What is the pressure from the competition? What’s happening at a cultural level?

Rikki Townsley.

Tip two: Bring the passion

In 2021, marketing is a complex, multi-headed beast. Luckily, there’s plenty of marketing science available to suggest what any particular bread and butter media approach should be.

You know what there’s no tech replacement for? The human soul, baby. 

That means you’ve got to be ready for an open and honest dialogue, and come to the table with your own ideas and opinions.

“Don’t be afraid to be passionate about your work,” says Townsley. “Lean in, come with ideas, collaborate, contribute openly. If you like the path we’re going down, great, let’s build this thing together.”

While the business goals of the client will dictate the specific media mix for a given initiative, there’s no substitute for a client’s enthusiasm about the work.

“A media planner will take quite a scientific approach, but it’s when clients bring that passion and energy to the collaboration, really finding ways to engage with consumers and ways to amplify media ideas, that’s when things really come to life,” says Townsley.

“There’s no replacement for that”.

Tip three: Engage with the feedback

Alice Franklin

Your media planner will help you figure out your media outputs, identifying which combination of media outlets will be most effective.

This isn’t a set and forget deal however. Regular and irregular check-ins and mini-approvals along the way are a key part of any marketing project’s success – and often where the best stuff is hiding.

“Being able to have plenty of checks along the way and moments of feedback to make sure everyone’s behind what’s happening is really important,” says Alice Franklin, group business director with MediaCom.

While these check-ins can feel like a little more effort up front, they ultimately will produce a better result.

“This is often where the insights, and the human truths come out, so don’t be afraid of that collaboration,” says Franklin. “That’s where the best work really shines through – via those check-ins or just picking up the phone and going ‘hey, I just had this thought; what do you think about that?’”

“Make yourself available up front, because a little bit of that collaborative thinking can go a long way in ensuring that media brings creative ideas to life.”

Tip four: See it to the end

Getting your plan nailed is a moment worth celebrating, but don’t go overboard with that cathartic release just yet: implementation and execution is just as important to get right as the strategy, says Franklin, so stay awake.

“So often you can have these awesome strategies, and have meetings where everyone’s excited and then you see what actually ends up in the market and it has all just been lost in the execution,” she says.

Being able to seamlessly implement a strategy is a real art, says Franklin, one very easily lost in the realities of day-to-day business.

“As agencies and marketers alike, we sometimes need to remind ourselves of the care and the craft that actually goes into producing beautiful plans and strategy.”

It comes down to avoiding distractions and maintaining that clarity of purpose, says Townsley.

“People forget that strategy is actually sacrifice,” he says. “It’s choosing what not to do, which means when you get down to the point of execution, you can’t just grab everything and shove it in the bag.”

“It’s deciding what you’re not going to do, which is just as powerful.”

About Jonathan Cotton

Jonathan Cotton is an ink-slinger, keyword hacker, next-gen content trafficker, and owner of Rocket Skates Digital.

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