Contact Baskin Shark
Call 01367 850 179
or email Merry Baskin at:
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Craft Skills Training

Strategic planning is not a mystical art: it’s a discipline, it can be taught, and it can be learned.  But it’s useless teaching it to anyone who isn’t naturally intuitive, insightful, and curious: those qualities are required, and they can’t be learned.

Skills do matter:

To be effective, especially in an era of tight budgets and greater accountability, communications professionals need to be critical analysts of business data, trenchant observers of consumer trends, confident users of qualitative and quantitative research, and persuasive advocates for their ideas.  Anything less is not enough.

Practice makes perfect:

No one ever learned to do this from just reading a book about it.  Skills and confidence are acquired through hands-on practise – in the classroom, and on the job.

"Merry is one of the smartest planners I have ever worked with, and has an impeccable track record.  As a leader and educator of account planning departments in London, New York, Brussels and Stockholm she has mentored and inspired many hundreds of planners and account handlers over the years. Her craft skills and client experience are outstanding.  What I have always enjoyed most about working with her, though, is that she has a wicked sense of humor, and takes no prisoners. You have been warned!"
Jane Newman  (The first lady of US Planning and Stanley Pollitt (founder of account planning at BMP) trainee

The method:  

I am committed to raising the skill levels of strategic thinkers and creative communications developers, whatever department they work in. Along with my planner and creative director friends, recruited in as needed, we achieve this through intense, interactive, discursive professional training.  Baskin Shark offers a range of practical courses and workshops designed for planners (and strategy-oriented account people, brand managers, marketers and even creatives) at all levels of experience.

Courses can be bespoke to meet any specific challenges you may have. Topics include strategic thinking, quantitative and qualitative market research skills, brief writing, evaluating creative work, insight mining, new business pitch strategy development, brainstorming and workshop facilitation. I am one of the key trainers with the Account Planning Group (open to all comers, members and non-members; see for latest courses), and have also do industry wide training for the IPA, WACL and the ACC (Belgium).

Feedback from Department Heads:

“Thanks so much for a brilliant course, Merry. It was wonderful to see even the dataphobes blossoming under your guidance. It's really appreciated. Here`s to more next year” Tim Broadbent, Regional Planning Director, Ogilvy & Mather, Beijing

“I really enjoyed - and learned a lot - from how you ran the course. It was such a pleasure to see you 'working the crowd' over the last few days!  In lesser hands some of this material could have come across as dry and uninvolving, but you never failed to keep everyone interested and amused - the best kind of learning”.  Gavin MacDonald, Planning Director, Ogilvy & Mather,  Singapore

"Well, you sure made an impression on my Brand Planners! They really got a lot out of the two days and left inspired and re-invigorated.  Thanks for being tough, and taking this course seriously. Thanks again for a stellar job!"  Graceann Bennett, Planning Director, Arnold

From delegates: 

“Excellent. Fun, hard work, inspiring. I will be putting some of the tools into practice immediately. Really interesting to hear about real case studies and the thinking behind the strategy. It was really useful to be able to practice using the tools in a 'safe' environment. This has definitely helped with my confidence at developing strategy”.

“The experience was just the right recipe with a large portion of the mind fog encompassing quant being removed. Previously I was a lost little lamb in terms of the quant big picture as well as the bits and pieces. I have to say my perception of quant has done a 180 and am looking forward to dig into it more when previously it was something to be avoided”

“I thought that there was a lot of great information and more importantly real life experience of creative brief writing and briefing. I now feel I have the ammunition to challenge and revolutionise (well, maybe just reform) our internal creative briefs. There were lots of tips and tools for improving both the physical brief and the briefing experience”. 

“Excellent. Presenters who knew their stuff and good mood/environment setting. Running and planning with experienced but helpful delegates and tutors. I liked the example syndicate session master class, it really helped clinch ideas and demonstrate how things could work”.

“Very insightful. Great to hear from experienced planners. Great to have an opportunity to practice in a 'safe' environment. So many tools now at my disposal to try out back at the agency”

“Excellent. Good pace. Good content. Lots of practice. Merry’s approach was rigorous and informative”