Critical Insight Skills: Developing strategic insights and getting to the heart of your target audience

A Practical Skills-Based Training Programme for Planners and Strategists

Next Course: 2020 Dates TBA

This course has been developed and primarily funded by the APG to train a new generation of planners and strategists in the skills they need to understand target audiences and develop people-based strategic insights.


Because it is underwritten by the APG to develop the skills of the community at large, it will be priced at less than half our regular training courses.


This is a brand new APG course developed with The Nursery Research & Planning, to encourage planners and strategists to get out of the ‘bubble’ and directly engage with their target audiences so that they can root their strategic thinking in the real world of real people.

Who is it aimed at?

Younger planners and strategists working in agencies with up to 3 or 4 years’ experience who, through no fault of their own, spend too much time in front of a screen and not enough time drawing on real people for strategic inspiration and insight.

What will you learn?

It’s designed to instill a series of skills and behaviours including interviewing, moderating, and analyzing qualitative data and applying knowledge and insight to crack planning problems.


It will encompass digital approaches but will be mostly oriented to real life.  We’ll encourage the delegates to experiment with and seek out-of-bubble understanding of target audiences, including hard-to-reach audiences.  They will then be shown how to link that depth of understanding to developing insights and feeding through to strategy and briefs.


It will consist of 5 modules of around 3 hours each, over a period of 8 weeks.  Each module will tackle a different skill or approach.  Delegates will also be a briefed on a project that they will present for comment at the end of the course. 


Each session will have a Cheat Sheet detailing the main points and actions.


Each module will be led by senior experts at The Nursery Research & Planning who are excellent practitioners in every aspect of interviewing and interpretation, with the assistance of very senior planners and strategists in agencies and client companies.


These include Lucy Banister and Sophie Marder at The Nursery Research & Planning, Hugh de Winton of Adam and Eve DDB, Eloise Liley of Publicis, and Kate Waters and Tom Patterson from ITV.

Course Content
Module 1: Critical Interviewing Skills


An interactive teaching session with skilled researchers and moderators including interviewing best practice, drawing people out effectively, case histories and initial guidance on crafting insights.  There will also be a briefing on the effective use of qualitative on-line tools. The session will include an opportunity to have a go at putting into practice what has been learned.


Module 2: Critical Insights and how to generate them


A whole session geared to a deeper understanding of audiences, and uncovering and crafting actionable insight.  It will encompass case history examples of how insights were generated in qual research, from top qual researchers, and examples of how planners take these findings and develop insights for use directly in strategic development and briefs.


A project will be set to teach and encourage understanding of particular hard to reach audiences leading to short videos and presentations.

Module 3: Critical Moderating Skills


This will take place in a viewing facility and is designed to teach professional group moderation by example. Researchers from The Nursery Research & Planning will run the groups and use them as a teaching aid, demonstrating principles and getting feedback and ideas from the delegates and demonstrating what happens in group dynamics and how to get the best out of respondents.


 All the delegates will then have a go at running a group discussion and get feedback on their methods and approach.


Module 4: Critical Understanding of Harder to Reach Target Audiences


This is based on case histories about specific audiences or groups.  It’s designed to show by example how really good target audience thinking leads to effective strategy and excellent work.  Run by Strategy leaders and based in part on winning cases from the APG Creative Strategy Awards



Module 5: Project Debrief and Critical Further Insight


Delegate videos and insight presentations are reviewed with a debrief of the work, offering critiques, guidance and tips.

Before you purchase your ticket please call the APG at 0208 858 0707 or email to ensure you're eligible to take part.

Course Details
When is it?

2020 Dates TBA

Where is it?

Central London TBA

What is the Cost?

Cost: £300+vat per delegate. (Actual cost to APG: £800 per delegate). The APG is underwriting most of the cost of this course because we believe strongly in the importance of training a new generation of planners and strategists in critical understanding and insight skills.

Course Tutors

Eloise is a strategy director originally from Tasmania. She believes in living ideas - great strategy and communication that stays in the heads and hearts of people and impacts their lives in more ways (and channels) than one. In her time she’s worked with big and small brands on big and small briefs across brand and communications planning. Right now Eloise spends her working hours on Tourism Ireland, Depaul UK, Essity & Cathay Pacific at Publicis•Poke

Eloise Liley

Strategy Director
Publicis Poke

Hugh began his career as an account manager under VCCP and made the change into planning in 2008. After this he spent four years at Dare and left as a Senior Planner. Hugh is now Planning Director at adam&eveDDB and works on brands such as Waitrose & Partners. He has worked on multiple award winning campaigns since joining adam&eveDDB.

Hugh de Winton

Planning Director

Lucy spent the early years of her career working on accounts at a range of agencies including JWT, BBH and TBWA. She founded The Nursery Research & Planning in 2001.

Lucy Banister

The Nursery Research & Planning

Sophie Marder graduated with a BSc (1st) in Psychology from the University of Reading in 2015. She studied final modules such as Behavioural Economics, Self Control and Forensic Psychology. Her dissertation explored the interaction between mental wellbeing, self-esteem and physical activity and her data became part of a larger university project, exploring diet, exercise and their psychological effects. During her time at university, Sophie became a Brand Manager for Teach First, organising events and networking with societies and faculty members. She also earned a place on the university’s research summer internship scheme, where she gained experience as a research assistant in an active education project. Following a period of travelling through South East Asia and Australia, Sophie joined The Nursery in 2016 to start her career in Market Research. Approaching 2 years with the company, she has worked on projects for a wide range of clients, such as Shell, The Cabinet Office,, Direct Line, Google and the FCA. She has also co-ordinated and project managed a number of international qualitative projects, across five continents.

Sophie Marder

The Nursery Research & Planning

Tom has worked in advertising for over 10 years, starting his career in Research before moving into Strategy, via a short-lived stint in Account Management. During his career Tom has worked at smaller start-ups and larger network agencies across FMCG, retail, financial services, alcohol, charity, automotive and tech brands. He has worked on briefs and projects that span the broad spectrum of ‘planning’ today - from classic, big brand strategy to more agile communications and engagement strategy. Tom has just joined ITV as Client Strategy Controller, prior to this he was a Strategy Director and Partner at BBH working primarily on the Audi and Tesco accounts.

Tom Patterson

Client Strategy and Planning Controller
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