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Suitin' with style: A brief overview

by Eva Nowicki

A group of rubber ducks
Over my eight years in account management I've had many different roles. In this article, I’ll give people a better understanding of our role in an evolving advertising industry by explaining what suits do behind the scenes and what we bring to the table for both the client and agency.

From an outside perspective, suits work on a lot of spreadsheets. While we do love a spreadsheet, we offer so much more to our clients and the agency. Here are three ways account service adds value:

  1. Bridge the Gap
    We understand the client’s needs and communicate (and sometimes translate) these to the agency. We spend a great deal of time immersing ourselves in the client's business in order to get our head’s around the problems they're looking to solve. Once we understand these issues, we can then communicate these to the agency.

  2. Strategic Partner
    We act as a strategic partner by putting the consumer at the heart of our client's business, taking what we’ve learned from past campaigns and applying it to future work.We are trusted advisors who can help guide an effective communication strategy. 

  3. Gatekeeper 
    We oversee all work going through the agency and ensure it meets the client's brief, which can sometimes mean reviewing thousands of pieces of artwork just to make sure the copy and design are correct. We're the final step before work is delivered to the client, media or production - so quality assurance is a must. 


It’s by no means without challenges. But if you're a suit, you thrive on these challenges. One Catch 22 is that it's often difficult to keep both the client and agency happy, but in the end, you need to do what's best for the client's business. It’s important to remember that feedback to creatives needs to be provided in a respectful way. We are all working towards a common goal and we all want to put out great work.

It can also be difficult to keep up with the changing advertising landscape. New technologies and ways of working are constantly being developed. Processes like Agile and Waterfall need to be learned and implemented.

In addition to the changes in our industry, we also need to adapt to our client's needs. Their business will progress with changing market demands, and it's our job to make sure we're progressing with them. If you don't progress, you risk losing touch.

Standout Suits

A good suit is strategic, a problem-solver, diplomatic, efficient, resourceful and, most of all, eager to learn. These skills are developed over time. But, an account manager should already be passionate about the industry. When I'm interviewing for a graduate role, I'll look for someone who has a love for advertising and is enthusiastic to learn. Other skills will come in time.

A lot of these skills will develop on the job, but other skills can be developed through training. When you work in a large agency, you are surrounded by a wealth of knowledge and expertise. Each account service team has their own set of skills for managing clients, presenting and running projects. This knowledge should be shared between account management teams to benefit their client’s business. In addition, formal training outside of the agency can grow the knowledge base within. 

Agency work begins and ends with account management. We work hard to ensure the smooth-running of our client's business and our most important role is to understand and communicate their needs. We can develop better suits by nurturing their skills and providing training internally and externally. Profitable and enduring client relationships are the cornerstone of any great agency and account management is the central point to these relationships.

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