Lessons from Account Management to an Account Manager

I’m a multi-tasking account manager. Now I know that’s the nature of the role, but really, I also dabble in copywriting which means that on top of the one million things that account management throws at you, I sometimes feel like I receive one million and one. Although I’m still busy in my quest to becoming great at what I do, my learning curve has been steep. Here are a few things that I’ve come to realise. 1) No, but listen… but… we can’t… Ok, I’ll have that over to you in an hour. Sometimes these are the conversations we have with clients. Your to-do list is already as packed as a Durban beach on New Years day, when a client asks you to build a robot and send it to them in two hours – or something to that effect. At Flume we’re really good at making things happen for our clients, even on short notice, and I’m not saying it should be any other way but as account managers we also need to be able to manage expectations – for the sake of yourself and your creative team, not to mention quality of work. If you can deliver work on a short turn around time then sure, make it happen, but sometimes you also need to know when to say “we’ll get that robot to you by Friday”. 2) I literally can’t even right now. I often think I can do it all. I can put that presentation together, create that content, write that article, go to that meeting and amend that social media post five times. No I can’t, not all in one day. It’s easy to land up killing yourself to get all your tasks done because you thought you could do it on your own, plus you really wanted to write that copy yourself, but you’ll land up doing just that – killing yourself. Great time management will certainly help you tick off more tasks during the day and it’s a crucial skill that I’m trying to improve upon, but learning to delegate some of your tasks or just asking for help when you really need to can be a life saver, literally. Stress can do all sorts of horrible things to your body and of all the untimely deaths, I’ve rated ‘ killing yourself from stress because you decided to do something someone else could actually do’ as second to last on my list of fascinating ways to die. 3) Can you remove that comma on page 15, paragraph 3, line 1? As an account manager, you’re the middle man between the client and your creative team and you’re also the final pit stop for work before it gets sent to the client, because you’re the one that sends it. What that means is that you’re responsible for proof-reading and checking any work that passes through your outbox. Receiving an email from a client asking me to correct the grammar on page 5 of the e-guide we sent them just makes me cringe. I should’ve spotted that incorrect use of the apostrophe, not them, and now I feel silly. This also means briefing the design team to correct the mistake, which means another ‘to-do’ on my list which brings us back to the problem stated above. The point is, develop an eye for detail and take a little bit of extra time to make sure the work you send out is of good quality. 4) How about we start using those holographic, mind reading Facebook ads that haven’t been invented yet? When there’s a lot of work on your plate, it’s easy to get caught in the snare (I prefer this to “fall into the trap”) of just getting done what is required. The client briefs you on something and you get it done. That was all that was required. The problem with this is that your competitors can probably also get the required stuff done. You need to be proactive in pitching ideas to clients and keeping abreast of industry trends so that you’re keeping your clients one step ahead, and keeping them happy. 5) I’m sorry I couldn’t take your call, I was too busy laughing. At Flume, we laugh - a lot. Working hard is important but I’ve also realised that laughing with my colleagues keeps me sane. Sometimes it’s just a smile because you’re laughing on the inside while other times you’re laughing so hard it’s at a pitch that only animals can hear. However it is that you laugh, just do it. Those moments act as sneaky mental breaks from the reality that it’s quarter to five and you still have three hours worth of stuff to do and you’re losing the will to go on. So allow yourself those moments during the day because you may actually work more effectively after you’ve had a ‘productivity laugh’. Then take a deep breath and carry on. 6) I’ll get back to you on your query after my run. Lastly, don’t forfeit time for the things you enjoy doing. This is not really a new pearl of wisdom, but I’d like to be serious about this one because I’ve started to realise how important it is. There are lots of things I love doing, like reading a book or writing, but my thing is exercising. Whether it’s going for a run or going to the gym, doing some sort of exercise relieves my stress, helps me relax and makes me happy – I’m actually a nicer person to talk to when my muscles are sore and tired. I’ve had busy work weeks where I’ve had too much to do or felt too tired to do any exercise and I’ve always reached the end of those weeks feeling worse. So whatever it is that you love doing, schedule time for it. It’s so important.