7 Lessons I’ve Gathered From A Decade of Client Servicing
Updated: Jul 13
I was lucky to start my career in one of the World’s best advertising agencies. I also worked for big multinational agencies and start-ups. Regardless of the size of operations, working in account management of an agency is a great way for aspiring marketers to learn the ropes of marketing and more importantly to get hands-on lessons in corporate leadership.
Here are 7 lessons I’ve gathered from a decade of Client Servicing:
Lesson 1: Surrender to your passion.
Unlike other jobs on the corporate spectrum, you can’t survive working in advertising without having a passion towards it. Working in advertising means that you are expected to put in a lot of long hours (and sometimes weekend benders,) and the only thing that will get you through is really putting a whole lot of heart into what you do. Let it drive you forward and don’t fight it back, enjoy the ride instead!
Lesson 2: A “complete” brief is a utopian dream.
A client’s brief is never going to be “good enough.” Clients speak a different language than creatives do. Their mindset is focused on sales, product mixes, and extensive data reports. Learn to work with what you have and make the best out of it. Find that one insight that is based on a widely relatable universal truth and your brand is in safe hands. Sell a mind-set, an attitude, a state of mind, and not a product. Befriending the planning department also helps!
Lesson 3: Take a look around.
It’s easy to get sucked into a vacuum of your own work. Make sure to keep in touch with the outside world and always stay up-to-date with the latest trends and ever-evolving perceptions of your brand and its competitors. Thanks to the internet and social media surge, real-time feedback is now just a Google search away. You are the brand guardian after all, and the client will count on you to compliment it (and also criticize it.)
Lesson 4: You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.
The grass is truly always greener on the other side. Working in a demanding field like advertising lends itself to making you want to complain about how clients don’t understand you and how they have it so much better. I spent many years wanting to jump to the Client side thinking it is much better and perhaps less demanding. There is a whole set of other challenges if you work on the Client side. Enjoy the simple valuable things advertising offers; like-minded talented colleagues, the casual atmosphere, wearing jeans on Tuesdays, and “brainstorming” outside the office!
Lesson 5: Don’t take things personally.
Working in advertising is definitely not for the light hearted. Deadlines can be unforgiving, and new requests can keep piling up until you are overwhelmed. As someone in account management, you may be at the receiving end of harsh statements and feedback you won’t like from your boss, your client, or even you’re stressed out creative director (who needs to crack an award winning radio script in 24 hours.) Whatever you hear, don’t take it personally. Keep your ego intact and don’t let it budge! Instead, be a messenger, a catalyst, and a helping hand that focuses on solutions when everyone is busy obsessing over the problems.
Lesson 6: Just because you’re not in the “Creative Department” that doesn’t mean you can’t be creative.
Humans in big organizations have a tendency to label and frame themselves into roles. As a person working in account management, you get an omniscient point of view of a brand. You see it for what it really is from a marketing side, a brand perception angle, and a creative point of view. So don’t shy away from suggesting taglines or helping with the copywriting for a campaign. If you have a proactive idea you think you’d like to pursue, get some of the creatives on your side and pitch it! Not only will it give the clients a sense that you are thinking of their brand all the time, but also it will help you gain the respect of your creative peers.
Lesson 7: Apologize, and mean it.
It is easy to get defensive and feel the need to blame others when you are young and working in the advertising fields. Say your sorry’s when they are due – and mean them!
“A large portion of learning comes from admitting that you don’t really know it all.” - Marwa Kaabour