Advertising is an interesting, ever-changing field. Not only are we greatly affected by technological and cultural changes, but we have the opportunity to work with a variety of personality types, as well. In particular, account service people interact daily with both the creative team and the clients.
A Melting Pot of Personalities
In most marketing agencies, the creative team is an exciting blend of personalities – everything from the quiet genius who sits in the corner and knocks out designs so amazing and “out there,” you wish you could live in his head for just a day. To the quirky, outgoing writer who can make a description of cat food sound like an indulgent meal you find yourself salivating over.
Then, you have your clients. They always cover the spectrum of personality types – all from different industries, possessing a variety of backgrounds and coming from an assortment of cultures and age groups. The only commonality (that I’d bet money on) is your client is probably quite a bit different than your creative team. So, where does that leave the account service person?
Walking the Client-Creative Tightrope
We are the liaison … the translator … the cheerleader … the psychologist … the psychic … and even sometimes the peacemaker. You must understand both groups and make sure all communication is clear, and everyone is happy and on the same page.
Now don’t get me wrong, there are many times when you can’t make everyone happy. And no matter how many follow up emails and meetings you have, some people will never be on the same page or see eye to eye. However, I do feel there are some very basic things one can do to find a happy balance between their clients and creative team.
Stay Positive and Upbeat
Have you ever heard the saying, “enthusiasm is infectious and boredom is contagious?” Well, it’s true. As the account service person, you set the stage for each project. It’s your job to get the team motivated for whatever they are working on and to show your client the passion you all have for their brand and project.
When it comes to giving creative feedback, try to find the positive in what you tell your team. Yes, there are going to be times when the client had absolutely NOTHING positive to say, but you can at least use those moments as a learning opportunity – explain how the team is gaining a better understanding of the client’s needs, etc.
Provide Clear Communication
This means you should leave no room for interpretation from your client, nor from your creative team. Meet in person, or pick up the phone for anything that involves actual creative review or feedback. Use email to recap conversations and to provide clear next steps. Never forget the recap email! Not only will it help you remember what you did, but it will also be super useful for the times the client experiences “amnesia,” a change of mind, etc.
As the account service person, it’s your job to FULLY understand the client’s brand and project objective, as well as to fully understand the creative team’s content strategy and intent. If something does not seem clear to you, don’t be afraid to ask. When receiving client feedback, be sure you ask as many questions as you need to fully understand what the client likes and dislikes and why – why is very important.
When reviewing creative internally, ask questions to learn about your team’s inspiration and why they did what they did. If you are not liking something about the design or copy, ask why they did it before you cast judgment. Many times the thought and reasoning that went into their decision will sway your initial reaction. If nothing else, you will be well equipped to answer any questions on why your team did what they did when presentation time rolls around.
Walk in the Other Person’s Shoes
Do your best to understand your client and creative team’s perspective by putting yourself in their position every now and then. If possible, try to spend some time in the client’s office and really understand them and their business. Not only will you have a clearer idea of what you need to do to help them and their brand succeed, but it will most likely improve your client relationship, as well.
Do the same with your creative team. Actively participate in brainstorms, work to understand the creative members’ processes, even if it means tinkering with design applications or trying to fine tune your writing skills. You will not only develop a better appreciation for what they do, but you’ll be able to talk to the process in a way that shows you understand, which is always appreciated by the creative team.
Any successful partnership is built on trust. Work to gain the trust of your client by being open and honest with them. Everyone, clients included, likes to be right. But in the end, they would rather be successful, so don’t be afraid to challenge their thoughts and feedback in a respectful fashion.
Win the trust of your creative team by showing them that you have their back, and never, absolutely NEVER, position yourself as just the messenger between the creative team and the client. You and the creatives are a team and must present and stand as a united front. Also, it’s very important that you show your team that you trust them. You can do this by simply telling them you trust their judgment, their opinion, etc. That easy! You can also show them trust by not micromanaging and giving them space to do what they do best.
Have your own nuggets of knowledge for mastering the account service balancing act? Share your tips and tricks with us on Twitter @Moosylvania. We’d love to hear from you!