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Account Management success in the age of the Startup

Account Management success in the age of the Startup
Head of Account Management Ben Wilkinson continues our Dare blog series with a four point guide to succeed in Account Management.

Adland as we know it has changed.

Gone are the days of your standard waterfall structured campaign development.

The ecosystem is far more complex. The consumer unreasonable. The clients more demanding. It’s short, mid and long term customer orientation. And nothing is a given.

We’re in the age of the startup. Whether in a network agency or a small independent, our task is to get momentum going in uncertain times.

This excites me. We really needn’t be worried about the role of account management in 2014. Nor should we be concerned or puzzled at how to work in such changing industry.


Well, for starters, here are four clear concise must dos.

1) Making. Putting something in front of your clients which is real or ‘half-real’ is not only very exciting, but a must. When your clients ask for something, show them what it is, put it in their hand or show them it on the TV screen. In my experience this often leads to more fruitful conversations, rather than hours spent talking around theoretical feedback on a scamp that hasn’t escaped the pages of an A3 piece of paper. It’s easy to say no to a piece of paper.

2) Agile. The above can only be achieved by acknowledging that the process has changed. It’s less a linear “Do that, do this” over a period of 17 months with 14 periods of research. It’s much more fast and exciting. It’s important that you relish the opportunity to continually refresh, optimise and learn throughout the longevity of a campaign. And that you are trusted by your clients to do so.

3) Shape-shifting. However, in this new age of prototyping, such an approach or behaviour means your wider team need to speak directly to your clients. Whilst as a suit you’re still the central hub and the owner of the relationship, don’t be a roadblock between your clients and specialist expertise. Trust your team and let them work direct. Not sure? You’ll be amazed to discover just how much clients love talking to your creatives, producers, developers or designers directly when talking about the work.

4) Financial acumen. The traditional archaic hour based model of remuneration is at odds with all of the above. It’s sluggish and anachronistic, but is still the best we have. Whilst a carte blanche approach shouldn’t be taken to every brief which lands on your desk, there are times when in order to get that idea from the notepad to the app store you and your agency should invest and become a true business partner with you client. This naturally leads to healthy remuneration conversations around rewarding you and your agency for its performance and success. Why worry about getting paid hourly when you can license the product or idea for greater money and success?

Think long term gain over short term. Think Pixar and Hollywood.

It’s a personal bugbear. And one that I know somehow we will need to address.

I do think we should all be at business school, and challenging these commercial paradigms, so that both agency and client get to a smarter shared agenda.

So hang on to your hats.

It’s the best time to be in our business yet.

Ben Wilkinson is Head of Account Management at Dare.

Video: What are the traits of a great Account Manager?

Blog: Forgotten the basics of account management? Then be guilty for stopping creativity

Last updated 02/10/2014

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