Below you will find a variety of exercises that will sharpen your skills as a Planner. From boiling big ideas down to their strategic essence to mastering the creative brief, to learning how to ask better questions–there's a little something here for everyone. Check back soon for more exercises.


Close-Ended vs. Open-Ended Questions

A good discussion guide prompts people to tell stories, not just answer questions. Practice transforming the following close-ended questions into open-ended questions so that your respondents will be more likely to open up and tell stories. In some cases, you can also use the close-ended questions as a starting point to a more compelling follow up question.

  • Have you ever sent a text message while driving?
  • Did you find everything you were looking for during your last shopping trip?
  • Would you say you travel abroad frequently?
  • Do you post a lot of pictures on Facebook?
  • Do you prefer to shop at big boxes or locally owned stores?
  • Are you an early adopter when it comes to technology?
  • How often do you eat sweets?
  • Do you tend to buy things that are on sale?

General vs. Specific Questions

Sometimes, general questions can be good. But most of the time, general questions lead to general answers. Your goal during a focus group or in-depth interview (IDI) is to get your respondents to be more specific or to get them to draw on personal experiences and tell stories about their lives, instead of giving vague explanations that rely on generalizations. Practice transforming the following general questions into more specific questions that get people to speak about their personal experiences.

  • Who do you typically turn to for relationship advice?
  • How do you define convenience when it comes to shopping at a retailer?
  • Have you ever tried to quit smoking?
  • Which factors cause you to switch from one retailer to another?
  • When do you tend to snack the most?
  • What kinds of home improvement projects do you typically do around the house?
  • Where do you usually look for promotional offers?
  • How do you typically plan your vacation trips?
  • Do you enjoy gambling?
  • Are you a spender or a saver?

Reverse Engineer the Strategic Idea

Watch the following campaign spots and try to reverse engineer the creative idea down to a single strategic idea. NOTE: you cannot use the tagline or key messaging points as the strategic idea.

Volkswagon: Get In. Get Happy
Oreo: Wonder if I gave an oreo to you
Lowe’s: Never Stop Improving
Tide: Talking Stain
Liberty Mutual: Responsibility. What’s your policy?
GE: If I only Had a Brain
Intel: Handshake
IKEA: Living Together