Olivia Sparey, foodie in her twenties South West London, is part of the Truant London Client Services team as an Account Manager. Her career in account management began four years ago in a production agency, before landing her first role in the creative world at Ogilvy. Olivia has now been working at Truant for seven months on one of their biggest clients and loving every minute of it.
If you’re a customer, you might be wondering “what does my account manager do all day and how does he spend his time?”. If you are a creative… some may want to refer to the following:
The way we communicate with our customers is essential to the progress of our relationship with them. Anyone who has worked in an agency understands the intricacies of client communication – understanding what the client wants and needs and working together to achieve their goals. Much of the role requires practical skills – But it’s not all technical.
In fact, I like to think of account managers as having multiple roles. Some days we like to be the agency’s therapist listening to everyone’s problems. Another day we will act as peacekeepers. Every day we play different roles and sometimes we know the script and sometimes we have no idea how the story might end…
Which brings me right to one of the reasons I fell in love with account management. Every day is unpredictable with lots of twists and turns. You have the power to make every day different.
There is no simple definition for this role, but imagine writing your own play, playing all the different roles and directing it? Ok, maybe a little extreme, but sometimes that’s what account management looks like. You’re constantly pulling strings, monitoring progress, tracking budgets, tantrums, and putting out the occasional fire.
Thinking back to my time in account management, I’ve become familiar with a few of the roles over the past few years. This article is meant to entertain as well as inform. So I hope you like it!
From time to time, customers are unhappy with the work, and they don’t even know why. The most used comments are: “missing the wow factor” or “I want something fresher”. These comments can be frustrating and vague and leave you and your creations with nothing. So this is where we play ‘translator’ and dive deeper to try to find the root of the problem and the specific issues. This is the best opportunity to think differently and put your strategy forward. You technically have the clout to determine exactly what the project should look like.
Historically, account management has been referred to as a mediator. That’s not all we do and we all like to think we offer a lot more than that, but we sure have to be sometimes. I like to think that I provide a sense of peace and calm when the team is dealing with customer feedback or internal disagreements. It’s not always fun to be the middle guy, but in the long run, when everyone is over the moon with the end result, you feel pretty shocked. The mediator helps to find balance through communication. We can convey the hard truths of creatives without ruffling feathers and pave the way for open and honest communication.
Smile and nod man
Sometimes you might not agree with what the client or co-workers are saying, so the best thing to do is to smile and nod and not let your current emotions get the better of you. Account management in advertising moves so quickly and you can never see what’s coming your way. These will be decisions you may not want to make or are unsure of what to do next and people will get pissed off in the process. 90% of the time we are the best at being patient and staying positive, but everyone is having a bad day and if you are…smile and nod.
The designated punching bag
You know what I’m talking about. It’s not everyday smooth sailing and sometimes things go wrong. Unfortunately, you have to take one for the team and play the role of a punching bag. When things go wrong, it’s most likely going to land on the account management team.
But you know what, it’s never long term and you have the power to change that. Ultimately, this is what separates a successful account manager from one who fails. Being able to take ownership of problems and the actions needed to resolve them. I’d like to think we’re all bulletproof.
The Professional Google Sheet Maker
We LOVE spreadsheets in both professional and personal life and we can’t get enough of them. But seriously, organization is your best friend in account management and is critical to the success of any project. Whether it’s writing a billion checklists, color-coding every deliverable, or marking dates in your calendar and setting reminders so work doesn’t slip away. All of this will make your life easier. Be calm, cool and collected and you’ll defeat every curve ball.
All kidding aside, I believe that account management in advertising is one of the most rewarding and satisfying jobs there is. While trends, technology, and premierships are constantly changing, the qualities an account manager nurtures are timeless. And of course, a small part of you feels like you’re changing the world one project at a time. Sounds fun, huh?