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The Model Change in Client Services

The role of the account person in an agency has changed dramatically through the years. In the past, we asked a lot of our account or client services people. They may have handled the entire client engagement, from participating in generating new clients, to developing client strategy, to acting as the sole project manager in the agency through estimating to billing.

The account person of the past may have had the largest job description of any individual role in the company. 

Times have changed, and creative firms and agencies have morphed and solidified the role of account person into three, four or five different disciplines. The account person generalist has been split off into some very different specialty roles, engagement management, strategic development, project management, marketing partner and user experience development...

Business Development / Head of Account Services - Job Description

Business Development Director / Head of Account Services

The Director of Business Development / Head of Account Services will be responsible for identifying, pursuing and closing new business opportunities on a local, regional and national scale that are aligned with the long-term strategic goals. Director of Business Development / Head of Account Services reports to the Agency partners with senior creative leadership in a highly collaborative and team-oriented environment with the aim of winning new business. In addition, you typically would be responsible for building and growing awareness of the The Agency Brand by overseeing PR efforts.

The Director of Business Development / Head of Account Services (BD) maintains and grows our agency's business and client base on an ongoing and project basis. They create and maintain relationships with existing and potential clients, developing strategic solutions and plans that best fit the agency and clients’ needs. In this role, the BD insures that the agency provides:

  • Sound and responsible marketing counseling and planning.
  • Innovator and influencer level communications.
  • Deliver a consistently superior creative product.
  • Work that is strategic and above all creative.

The Requirements

  • MBA preferred, or Masters in Business or Marketing, commensurate experience in building agency client portfolios.
  • Interest in and aptitude for creative business and marketing solutions
  • Minimum of 5 years experience in building new business and account management in an agency environment (digital, broadcast, production, creative)
  • Highly motivated, with a proven track record of new business acquisitions and expansion of client accounts
  • Experience navigating large and complex organizations, including gaining access to key executives and stakeholders and successfully managing relationship building dynamics and processes
  • Ability to manage complex contract negotiations and working with legal counsel as required
  • Ability to manage multiple business initiatives in an entrepreneurial environment
  • Expert knowledge of all functional agency departments, capabilities and service areas
  • Deep understanding of a wide range of industries, markets and brands, and what it takes to stand out and service them
  • Exceptional communication and presentation skills
  • Flexibility with schedule to meet client commitments, traveling as required to pursue business development
  • Great project management abilities
  • Self motivated and willing to expand knowledge
  • Ability to self-manage while managing assigned teams and projects.

Major Contacts

The Director of Business Development / Head of Account Services position requires ongoing and in-depth interactions with the following:  The BD reports to the agency partners. Within the agency, the BD is the leader for our new business and PR efforts. As assigned, the BD has overall responsibility for leading assigned client services effort. Within the agency, the BD works closely with all agency personnel in developing plans, recommendations and deliverables. The BD will have direct client contact with new and existing assigned agency clients, PR and consultants, media partners and potential agency partners.

Responsibilities and Duties

The Director of Business Development / Head of Account Services has four areas of responsibility (specific duties of each are explained below)

Planning, Analyzing, Evaluating

  • Develop workable budgets, work plans and realistic timetables.
  • Collaborates with the Account Supervisor or Manager, Client Services, on preparation of marketing recommendations, strategies and actions for the client.
  • Reviews, analyzes and evaluates the following, relative to the client’s needs and objectives: media output, creative output, research reports and client data.
  • Defining project scope, estimate and writing proposals, works with producer in the creation of project specifications and time plans.
  • Identify and develop target list of clients and partners
  • Understand business objectives, challenges and opportunities of target and industry
  • Secure and present company credentials
  • Manage and budget activities for business development activities (databases, Industry groups, events and conferences)
  • Develop in collaboration with the The agency team, innovative and / or differentiating products and services 
  • Networking to find new business opportunities
  • Updating portfolio items for marketing materials
  • Coordinate and manage agency new business presentations and meetings

Team Leading, Coordinating, Managing

  • Be the agency’s lead ambassador and business evangelist, embodying the studio’s core values and differentiating perspectives
  • Identify the right opportunities across industry sectors and media that align with the agency’s ongoing strategy
  • Maintain and develop prospective client and key strategic partners network
  • Gather and identify RFPs to be evaluated with senior leadership team
  • Contribute to all aspects of the sales process, from the RFP response and pitch to contract negotiations
  • Represent the agency at conferences, events and symposiums
  • Provide market research, analyses and insights into latest industry trends
    Provides leadership within the agency on behalf of the client and prepares all agency credentials and RFPs. 
  • Position Impact with key industry influencers and though leaders
  • Lead and manage new business presentations as assigned
  • Grow and develop existing client accounts.
  • Keeping new business status reports up to date
  • Monitoring and enforcing new business risk and constraints (schedule / scope / resources)
  • Champion internal systems for higher productivity working

New Business Project Management

  • Manage agency new business efforts and projects, involved with projects from start to finish, ensuring successful project completion against deadlines.
  • Provide and maintain client contact and relationship database.
  • Product manage long term properties including: positioning development, marketing plans, manufacturing or development needs, timeline and roadmap planning, stats analysis and reporting
  • Networking online and offline to find new business opportunities
  • Lead and manage new business presentations 
  • Updating portfolio items for marketing materials
  • Handling telephone calls for new leads
  • Arranging sales and creative presentations and meetings
  • Seeking new opportunities to add value to existing clients
  • Identifying and nurturing new business opportunities
  • Working with clients to sign off on contracts and estimates
  • Work with agency lawyer and general manager to review contracts.

Interactive Agency Account Executive - Job Description

Account Executive

The Account Executive (AE) maintains and grows a client's business with the agency on an ongoing and project basis. They direct and coordinate the day-to-day agency efforts on behalf of the client’s product and/or service on assigned accounts. In this role, the AE insures that the agency provides:

  • Sound and responsible marketing counseling and planning.
  • Proper and innovative execution of work in all areas on schedule.
  • Deliver a consistently superior creative product.

The Requirements

  • Bachelors Degree in Marketing, Advertising or PR.
  • Interest in and aptitude for creative business and marketing solutions
  • General knowledge of web application design and build
  • Minimum of 4 years experience in account management (digital, production, creative)
  • Experience in Integrated marketing preferred
  • Well versed in planning campaigns across multiple platforms
  • Great client-facing experience
  • Great project management abilities
  • Self motivated and willing to expand knowledge
  • Ability to self-manage while managing assigned teams and projects.

Major Contacts

The AE’s position requires ongoing and in-depth interactions with the following: The AE reports to the Head of Account Services. As assigned, the Account Executive has overall responsibility for leading the client service effort. Within the agency, the AE is the leader/coordinator for the client and works closely with all agency personnel in developing plans, recommendations and deliverables.  The AE will have direct client contact with assigned agency clients.

Responsibilities and Duties

The AE has four areas of responsibility (specific duties of each are explained below)

Planning, Analyzing, Evaluating

  • Develop workable budgets, work plans and realistic timetables.
  • Collaborates with the Account Supervisor or Manager, Client Services, on preparation of marketing recommendations, strategies and actions for the client.
  • Reviews, analyzes and evaluates the following, relative to the client’s needs and objectives: media output, creative output, research reports and client data.
  • Provide client platform / business updates on a regular basis to demonstrate upcoming opportunities and threats to their business
  • Defining project scope, estimate and writing proposals, works with producer in the creation of project specifications and time plans.

Team Leading, Coordinating, Managing

  • Provides leadership within the agency on behalf of the client and prepares all work requests, client briefs.
  • Monitors all budget, research and production activity on assigned accounts and communicates status of each project to appropriate agency and client personnel in order to meet project deadlines.
  • Maintains communications with appropriate agency and client personnel to ensure positive workflow. Escalating exceptions and client issues to Director level as required.
  • Educating clients and managing their needs and expectations.
  • Keeping project status reports up to date
  • Monitoring and enforcing project constraints (schedule / scope / resources)
  • Champion internal systems for higher productivity working

Project & Product Management

  • Manage client projects, involved with client projects from start to finish, ensuring successful project completion against deadlines.
  • Provide and maintain projects status - liaising with development teams, designers and commercial staff to provide accurate updates of project statuses
  • Project quality assurance - testing and review of output, reviewing outputted deliverables against scope
  • Source of assets from clients, other agencies and third party suppliers.
  • To facilitate direct contact or to insulate our staff from direct contact on an as needed basis!
  • Product manage long term properties including: positioning development, marketing plans, manufacturing or development needs, timeline and roadmap planning, stats analysis and reporting

Marketing & Sales

  • Networking online and offline to find new business opportunities
  • Lead and manage new business presentations as assigned
  • Updating portfolio items for marketing materials
  • Handling telephone calls for new leads
  • Arranging sales and creative presentations and meetings
  • Seeking new opportunities to add value to existing clients
  • Identifying and nurturing new business opportunities within current client portfolio
  • Working with clients to sign off submitted work
  • Invoice chasing and escalation as needed

Generic Account Executive - Job Description

The job description below is fairly generic, adapt and change for level of seniority and responsibilities.

The Role

The Account Executive (AE) maintains and grows our client's business with the agency on an ongoing and project basis. They direct and coordinate the day-to-day agency efforts on behalf of the client’s product and/or service on assigned accounts. In this role, the AE insures that the agency provides:

  • Sound and responsible marketing counseling and planning.
  • Proper and innovative execution of work in all areas on schedule.
  • A consistently superior creative product.

The role is client facing and has scope for career development and enhancing skills across a range of disciplines.

The Requirements

  • Bachelors Degree in Marketing, Advertising or PR.
  • Interest in and aptitude for creative business and marketing solutions
  • General knowledge of web application design and build
  • Minimum of 4 years experience in account management (digital, production, creative)
  • Experience in Integrated marketing preferred
  • Well versed in planning campaigns across multiple platforms
  • Great client-facing experience
  • Great project management abilities
  • Self motivated and willing to expand knowledge
  • Ability to self-manage while managing assigned teams and projects.

Major Contacts

The AE’s position requires ongoing and in-depth interactions with the following:

  1. Internal:  The AE reports to the Head of Account Services. As assigned, the Account Executive has overall responsibility for leading the client service effort. Within the agency, the AE is the leader/coordinator for the client and works closely with all agency personnel in developing plans, recommendations and deliverables.
  2. External:  The AE will have direct client contact with assigned agency clients.

Responsibilities and Duties

The AE has four areas of responsibility (specific duties of each are explained below)

  1. Planning, Analyzing, Evaluating
  • Develop workable budgets, work plans and realistic timetables.
  • Collaborates with the Account Supervisor or Manager, Client Services, on preparation of marketing recommendations, strategies and actions for the client.
  • Reviews, analyzes and evaluates the following, relative to the client’s needs and objectives: media output, creative output, research reports and client data.
  • Provide client platform / business updates on a regular basis to demonstrate upcoming opportunities and threats to their business
  • Defining project scope, estimate and writing proposals, works with producer in the creation of project specifications and time plans.
  1. Team Leading, Coordinating, Managing
  • Provides leadership within the agency on behalf of the client and prepares all work requests, client briefs.
  • Monitors all budget, research and production activity on assigned accounts and communicates status of each project to appropriate agency and client personnel in order to meet project deadlines.
  • Maintains communications with appropriate agency and client personnel to ensure positive workflow. Escalating exceptions and client issues to Director level as required

Educating clients and managing their needs and expectations.

  • Keeping project status reports up to date
  • Monitoring and enforcing project constraints (schedule / scope / resources)
  • Champion internal systems for higher productivity working
  1. Project & Product Management
  • Manage client projects, involved with client projects from start to finish, ensuring successful project completion against deadlines.
  • Provide and maintain projects status - liaising with development teams, designers and commercial staff to provide accurate updates of project statuses
  • Project quality assurance - testing and review of output, reviewing outputted deliverables against scope
  • Source of assets from clients, other agencies and third party suppliers.
  • To facilitate direct contact or to insulate our staff from direct contact on an as needed basis!
  • Product manage long term properties including: positioning development, marketing plans, manufacturing or development needs, timeline and roadmap planning, stats analysis and reporting

4. Marketing & Sales

  • Networking online and offline to find new business opportunities
  • Lead and manage new business presentations as assigned
  • Updating portfolio items for marketing materials
  • Handling telephone calls for new leads
  • Arranging sales and creative presentations and meetings
  • Seeking new opportunities to add value to existing clients
  • Identifying and nurturing new business opportunities within current client portfolio
  • Working with clients to sign off submitted work
  • Invoice chasing and escalation as needed

    Strategist - Job Description (Simple)

    There are many other blogs that focus on agency strategy & account planning, so this is a short entry.

    Here is a real quick job description for the strategy function you may encounter. The Strategist plays a key role in driving client strategy throughout an engagement
    Strategists gather, define, and clarify the insights that drive our creative solutions and help us make a difference in our client’s business. 

    Responsibilities:

    • Develop an understanding of the client’s business environment and strategy 
    • Collaborate with our team to define project objectives, set key performance metrics, and establish project approach
    • Conduct research, stakeholder interviews, brainstorming sessions, and on digital projects conducting things like, features and functionality workshops
    • Oversee audience research activities (in conjunction with client or 3rd party) research teams
    • Perform competitive analysis and identify gaps and opportunities in the marketplace
    • Assemble strategic insights into presentation materials for mid and senior level clients
    • Keep abreast of emerging behaviors, technologies, and companies that are changing our client’s businesses
    • Act as an internal resource, championing  our content / storytelling / digital innovation whenever possible
    • Lead or collaborate client engagements on a day to day basis
    • Be able to lead executive / expert interviews and client presentations 
    • Select appropriate frameworks, tools and approaches to use in solving client problems 
    • Demonstrate domain knowledge and expertise in a range of skills, such as business model development, financial modeling, product portfolio planning, organizational strategy, channel and go-to-market models, customer / market research etc.
    • Manage consulting engagements 
    • Contribute to business development and thought leadership activities

     

     

    Account Executive - Job Description (Simple)

    The account executive is often the starting / entry level position in an agency in regards to client services. This is a quick job description that reviews the duties of an account executive. Keep in mind that in many agencies, the account executive role also includes project management. Or in agency that relies on a producer model, the account executive's role could be limited.

    The Account Executive

    Responsibilities and Duties
     
    An Account Executive has four areas of responsibility (specific duties of each are explained below)

    Planning, Analyzing, Evaluating

    • Develop workable budgets, work plans and realistic timetables.
    • Collaborates with the Account Supervisor or Manager, Client Services, on preparation of marketing recommendations, strategies and actions for the client.
    • Reviews, analyzes and evaluates the following, relative to the client’s needs and objectives: media output, creative output, research reports and client data.
    • Provide client platform / business updates on a regular basis to demonstrate upcoming opportunities and threats to their business
    • Defining project scope, estimate and writing proposals, works with producer in the creation of project specifications and time plans.

    Team Leading, Coordinating, Managing

    • Provides leadership within the agency on behalf of the client and prepares all work requests, client briefs.
    • Monitors all budget, research and production activity on assigned accounts and communicates status of each project to appropriate agency and client personnel in order to meet project deadlines.
    • Maintains communications with appropriate agency and client personnel to ensure positive workflow. Escalating exceptions and client issues to Director level as required

    Educating clients and managing their needs and expectations.

    • Keeping project status reports up to date
    • Monitoring and enforcing project constraints (schedule / scope / resources)
    • Champion internal systems for higher productivity working

    Project & Product Management

    • Manage client projects, involved with client projects from start to finish, ensuring successful project completion against deadlines.
    • Provide and maintain projects status - liaising with development teams, designers and commercial staff to provide accurate updates of project statuses
    • Project quality assurance - testing and review of output, reviewing outputted deliverables against scope
    • Source of assets from clients, other agencies and third party suppliers.
    • To facilitate direct contact or to insulate our staff from direct contact on an as needed basis!
    • Product manage long term properties including: positioning development, marketing plans, manufacturing or development needs, timeline and roadmap planning, stats analysis and reporting

    4. Marketing & Sales

    • Networking online and offline to find new business opportunities
    • Lead and manage new business presentations as assigned
    • Updating portfolio items for marketing materials
    • Handling telephone calls for new leads
    • Arranging sales and creative presentations and meetings
    • Seeking new opportunities to add value to existing clients
    • Identifying and nurturing new business opportunities within current client portfolio
    • Working with clients to sign off submitted work
    • Invoice chasing and escalation as needed

    Account Director - Job Description (Simple)

    The Account Director and Group Account Director roles focus more on managing the agency relationship with a client, and larger marketing concerns. 

    A typical Account Director or Group Account Director job description may include but may not be limited to: 

    Responsible for profitability for a specific group of accounts and represents the Agency at the community level. S/he is also the managing executive of the market on non-functional issues. The senior account person with responsibility for direct supervision of all group account service staff as well as responsibility for one or more accounts. Manages Client relationships and resolves functional conflicts through consultation with regional function heads. The Account Director is the person to whom the account supervisor and account executives look for support, guidance, and counsel.

    Responsibilities:

    • Overall growth and development of accounts in his group.
    • Meeting profit goals on each account in his group.
    • Maintaining a high level of performance by the account teams and other agency personnel, as needed.
    • Being sufficiently informed and personally involved, ensuring sound planning, good service and a solid client/agency relationship.
    • Following agency policies and procedures.
    • Keeping management informed of the status of his group’s accounts, problems, plans and meetings, as well as involving Management personnel at key times.
    • Insures the timely development and execution of plans, campaigns, and projects to assure earnings, growth, and profit goals are achieved.  
    • Provides account team leadership, and convey the specific requirements for multi-functional support to the appropriate functional regional management on a timely basis.
    • Plans, develops, and defends budget recommendations, work goals, measurements, and training requirements necessary to provide both quality and profitable service to Clients.
    • Assigns duties, goals, and supervises the account service staff in the local market.
    • Executes duties and assignments as directed in compliance with corporate guidelines and objectives.
    • Maintains awareness and controls situations which may lead to the risk of write-offs.
    • Maintains open and complete communications of Client issues with functional leaders and corporate management.
    • Provides leadership/motivation and conveys the vision and values of the Agency to the assigned staff.Insure that the staff works in conformance with Agency policies and procedures and public law.

    Agency Basics - Keeping Everyone Informed

    In every agency, there are common ways of keeping everyone in the agency informed. It's the mundane paperwork that is often vital to communicating properly within the agency. And Account Services is often the starting point for that communication. Part of the account services role may include some basic project management / client relationship duties, which usually manifests itself as the mundane forms of paperwork.

    Here are some of the basic forms of paperwork that the account team may be called upon to produce:

    Status Reports

    The Account Group is usually responsible for maintaining status reports on each individual client. They should reflect all of of their assigned open jobs, new work and work that needs to be billed.

    Each status report should reflect the following information on all of the assigned jobs: Job # & Name, Status of the Job, Next Steps and Milestone (deadline) dates.

    The status report is typically updated once or twice a week. All account executives should review major points on their status reports at a weekly status meetings. If one member of the team is  unavailable to attend, another account person will fill in.

    If your client’s work status has changed during the week, it is the account person's responsibility to inform the various departments and individuals. In an agency, do not assume an e-mail is the best format to transfer important information. A verbal verification ensures understanding. You should make sure all work-related changes are reported on your agency's Job Form and distributed. If needed, you should call a separate meeting for jobs require further detail.

    Meeting Call Report

    All client meetings/calls concerning major decisions, budget information, nextstep changes discussed, should call for written reports to be distributed within 48 hours after the meeting. Distribute the notes to all attendees & department heads; your production, media and creative teams. These reports should also be issued for all major client/agency discussions, and internal planning meetings. Without these reports the different departments will often not recieve some vital piece of information that was discussed during the meeting. It is the account groups’ responsibility to make sure all agency and/or client parties are informed.

    The Job Plan, Project Start or Project Initiation form

    All new projects and project changes should be recorded on a project initiation form, even to open a job there should be written input. A face-to-face meeting meeting between AEs and the creative and production teams before starting any decent size projects should be consider vital and even mandatory.

    Without the project initiation form, no one will have a record of your changes or your request for work. This form should be given to the appropriate production, media, creative team, and account planning (when it’s research-related). E-mails are also not the appropriate medium for job changes.

    Be wary and avoid verbal job requests.

    Account Team Members - Responsibilities and Roles

    The Account Director (or Supervisor) vs. Account Executives - who does what.

    While the account executives and account coordinators have much of the day-to-day contact with the client, the account supervisor is responsible for the relationship between the agency and the client. The account supervisor’s main goal is to review all strategic and media decisions formulated by the various agency departments before delivery to the client and to review the creative concepts as to whether they meet the creative brief and the strategic goals and marketing plan of the client.

    The account supervisor manages all of the assigned account executives and account coordinators/assistants to their accounts. From a client view, the account supervisor analyzes the client’s requests and marketing plan to produce a coherent, focused and most cost-effective/value-added communications plan that the agency can provide. This includes gathering client or agency prepared research, competitive analysis and existing marketing plans or a structure client/agency Q & A session and staying on top of products and markets in which the client operates.

    From an agency viewpoint, the account supervisor acts as the main spokesperson for the agency,
    overseeing the execution of the approved communication programs, while identifying new business opportunities with the existing clients.

    Other duties can include;
    Presents and sells agency recommended communication plans, creative concepts and media plans to the client.
    Maintaining direct, day-to-day client contact.
    Receive client briefs.
    Inconjunction with the account executives briefs creative, media, PR staff.
    Provide clients with budgets and estimate updates.
    Assists in client billing process and account receivables.
    Writes client contact reports.
    Prepares monthly revenue forecasts.

    Account Executives

    Team members have the primary client contact the “day-to-day” project management of the assigned accounts. The work with all of the agency departments to move projects through the agency. For example, they may meet with the creative director to review the creative issues, with the pr director concerning publicity, with the traffic department concerning scheduling and traffic.
    They are responsible for gathering information on clients, products, and competition needed for the agency backgrounders and start-up meetings. 

    Duties might include;
    Updating information pertinent to the status of all jobs, producing the client status report.
    Produce timely contact reports.
    Produce and distribute job requests and change orders.
    Makes sure the sign-off of various agency documents including creative blueprints & estimates.
    Meet with the senior management group to inform them of all client activities.

    Account Coordinator or Assistant Account Executives

    The account coordinators provide administrative support and back-up for account services.
    They are responsible for supporting the account group which may include;
    Setting up meetings.
    Setting up or conducting research.
    Developing presentations from materials provided
    Following up on jobs and projects internally and externally when requested.
    Make travel arrangements, provide shipping instructions.
    Set up internal and external meetings.

    The Account Group - Base Level Role

    Account Services, which includes the a vp or account service director, account supervisors and account executives, is the link between the Agency and its clients. Account Services plays the lead role in developing strategic direction for all accounts/projects (unless the agency has a strategic planning department or staff), in being the Agency’s advocate with our clients and in being our clients’ advocate at the Agency. Account Services also has P&L responsibility for all accounts, as well as responsibility for forecasting revenue and meeting revenue/profit goals.

    Account management roles include:

    Ongoing management of the account
    • Brand stewardship, navigation, architecture.
    • Project leadership
    • Day-to-day management of the account
    • Budget management
    • Ongoing market / competitive analysis
    • Coordination, analysis and integration of research

    Quarterly Client Reviews
    • Business performance
    • Financial performance
    • Hours vs. retainer
    • Product budget recap

    Relationship Performance
    • Strategy
    • Creative
    • Media
    • Production
    • Research

    Points of Client Contact
    • Daily status update email/phone
    • Responsibility as point person