Some copywriters and art directors I know would say that question is a contradiction in terms. It’s like asking them, what makes a nice serial killer? For them, planners are people who mess up the creative process and prevent us from producing outstanding work.

I don’t buy that view, at least not entirely. As a freelance copywriter, I meet so many different planners. Some give me a brilliant strategy and useful facts to work with. Others just provide bland insights that I could have come up with myself. Or even worse, they overcomplicate things.

My favourite planners are specialists, for example in IT or financial services. These people have a deep knowledge of the products and services in their market. They can explain complicated concepts – eg virtualisation or exchange traded funds – in simple language, and help you grasp the benefits. They can brief you so that you have a clear picture of the customers and their needs.

What’s your view of planners? Do you think they play a useful role or not?

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