In spite of the hoopla over the value of creative product, the fundamental nature of the advertising business lies in relationships.
“You do business with people you trust and like,” a successful ad exec told us after he gave a speech on account service. In a business of relationships, the professional is often defined by the intangibles of personality: mutual trust, respect, compromise and communication. The elements of a good agency/client relationship require balance, and people must be involved who have a predilection toward doing what it takes to make relationships work. Following are some points that we think you should share with account service people.
1. To build any sort of relationship, the account service person must be in front of the client on a regular basis. Far too many account executives spend their days in the office and their nights at home. You must urge them to spend time with the client. You can’t have the necessary professional interaction without credibility and respect, nor can you have a friendship without those qualities.
2. The long-term health of an agency/client relationship is more important than the short-term gain of the agency. Sometimes you must recommend things that are in the client’s best interests more than the agency’s.
3. Many account people think it’s their job to sell. That's a dangerous preconception. Sure, there's the aspect of helping the client understand the creative rationale, but an account executive’s job is to involve the agency in all the marketing elements that create a healthy client company, which in turn benefits the agency. The truth is, when you get it right, you don't have to sell the client. Selling is necessary when the account people aren’t doing their job, and you have to pull ideas from outer space.