The Art and Science of Account Management

Great advertising agencies are known for their memorable ad campaigns; and the art directors and copywriters who create these funny, moving, heart-warming campaigns are the rock stars of the ad world.  Behind the scenes, however, there is a team of account executives, media planners, producers and traffic specialists who are all vital to getting these awesome campaigns produced and in front of the target audience. I want to talk specifically about the role of the account executive, the AE, as that’s the position I’ve held during my career in advertising.

A good AE is a business strategist, a brand steward, an analyst, wrangler, planner and traffic cop.  And to be fair, a frequent user of the Resy and Open Table apps.  There is an art and a science to great account management, so let me shed some light on what that entails.

The Art

Effective account management is built on great relationships. Relationships with the clients, the creative team, media planners – everyone who touches the client’s business. For these relationships to be effective, they must be built on trust.  The art is crafting the right mix of business acumen, insight, accountability and camaraderie to earn and maintain that trust.  The client must see the AE as a business partner –  someone who understands their business like they do.  The AE must become an invaluable resource, the go-to person who can be counted on to solve problems and get stuff done – sometimes under tremendous pressure and short deadlines. 

A great AE is not a yes-man.  Part of the art is knowing how and when to push back appropriately.  The AE must be a voice of reason to help a client think through a business challenge and steer them away from a quick solution that may have a negative long-term impact on their brand or business results. This ability to push back is earned by time in the trenches, crunching the numbers and developing plans that help the client achieve their objectives. When the client knows you have skin in the game and are equally committed to their long-term success, they are more open to a gentle nudge in another direction.

The Science

Don’t let all the hand shaking, cheerleading and reservations making fool you.  A great AE knows his stuff, including market share and sales numbers, lead counts, conversion rates, competitive spending, consumer trends, the state of the economy and exactly what a consumer thinks about the client’s brand.  The science of account management is the ability to sort through all the facts and figures to ferret out the insights that become the foundation of a great campaign.  These insights are based on a deep understanding of all the market dynamics that influence the client’s business, combined with a knowledge of how consumers relate to the brand and their purchase and shopping behavior.

So, what is the point of all this art and science stuff?  Think of it as a guide to help you find the right agency partner – a team you can trust to help solve your problems and who have a shared commitment to your success.  It’s critically important to note that a great client-agency relationship is a shared commitment to transparent, open and honest communication. Your AE can only work their art and science magic if they have access to all the data and information about your brand, business results, competition, business objectives, etc. View them as an extension of your marketing department and pull them into the tent to dig through the data and collectively problem solve. 

The team at Aardvark Communications has the passion, experience and creativity to be the marketing partner to launch a brand or grow an existing business. Our many long-term client relationships are testament to our track record of success.  As the agency’s lead account guy, I’m ready to brew up a little art and science on your behalf, and maybe even take you out for lunch.  Call me and let’s get cookin’.