How Do You Stay Ahead Of The Client?

Know What Needs To Be Done First

Creative certainly is the engine that powers advertising, but many of us get so hung up on generating creative horsepower that we never ask ourselves, “Power for what?”

What good is creative power, unless somebody knows where the client’s advertising vehicle is supposed to go, and steers it in that direction expeditiously?

Somebody such as a capable account manager.

We talk among ourselves about wanting to lead the client and some of us even attempt to, but even those who make the effort are inclined to back away at the first sign of client resistance.

Yet we must attempt to lead every client in his advertising activities because most clients need leadership, whether they will admit it or not, and the agency is, or should be, best qualified to provide it in this area.

Furthermore, guess who will get blamed and terminated if the advertising effort fails? Us!

George Johnson vividly remembered a forthright client who told a group of agency people: “I consider leadership to be the most important quality of agency service—by which I mean the ability to anticipate and to come up with the ideas and suggestions before I ask for them.”

What is client leadership?

  1. Helping the client to prepare a marketing communications plan and then leading all of those involved at the client and at the agency in the orderly execution of the plan.
  2. Maintaining constant vigilance for change and portents of change in the client’s sphere of operation, so as to offer ideas and suggestions for action before the client asks for them.

We would like to believe that most account managers know how to perform their primary duties, as outlined in #1 above – but the anecdotal evidence he received from agency owners indicates otherwise.

He suspects that there are three common reasons why account managers fail to lead their clients in preparing and executing overall plans, which are:

  1. They don’t know how to do it.
  2. They are not given the authority and responsibility to do it.
  3. They refuse to do it.

Naturally, there are many opinions about how to solve all three of the above predicaments and I’ll offer some opinions in my next post.

Here’s one final thought from a seminar I attended…COSNOP. It stands for Concentrate On Solution, Not On Problem. If you apply this to your professional and personal lives, chances are you’ll be more productive, earn more respect from those around you, and have less stress overall.

Until next time. Tony