10 Commandments of Account Management for Any Business

If the best ads come from personal experience, as famed adman David Ogilvy once suggested, than Kenneth Roman is more than likely is sitting on a second career worth of material.

As a former Chairman and CEO of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, Roman presided over some of the world’s biggest advertising campaigns in his 26 years with the powerhouse firm and  has penned three seminal industry standards: How to Advertise,  Writing That Works, and The King of Madison Avenue: David Ogilvy and the Making of Modern Advertising.

Roman is the closest real-life example of the now fetishized golden age of advertising ala Don Draper and television’s Mad Men,  but he doesn’t waste time being sentimental about his experiences. In fact, the octogenarian says the business of advertising is about business. It's not about entertaining, or winning awards or creating the cleverest ad.  It's about helping your client sell.

"No sale, no commission. No commission, no eat," said Roman, quoting a well-known axiom of his old boss  Ogilvy. "The purpose of advertising is to sell."

At Ogilvy & Mather, he helped build  business of major clients including American Express, Unilever, Kimberly-Clark and General Foods, and grew Ogilvy& Mather’s global network and creative reputation.

“Some of the things I learned working with clients and building client relationships and managing client relationships, I found applied to other business,” said Roman.

These are Kenneth Roman's 10 Commandments of Account Management.

10 Commandments of Account Management

I. Select your clients carefully. It’s imperative to know which clients you want to work for, says Roman. Follow these three guiding principles when making that important decision:

  • Find products or services you believe you can market and advertise sensibly.
  • Make sure these are people you want to work with. Nobody wants to deal with bullies or unpleasant people.
  • They must be people who want you to make a fair profit over time.

If these three things aren’t present, sooner or later you’ll be fired anyway. Create a target list of companies you’d like to work with and develop 10 to 15 clients that would change your company.

II. Treat your client as your best new business prospect. Year after year at Ogilvy & Mather, executives discovered that approximately 60 percent of new business came from either current clients, or through them. A good client will find a way to get you more assignments or pass your services alone to another diversion or company. If you have done a great job they are going to give you more business in more places.

III.  Take a proprietary interest in the health of your clients business. Once you’ve decided to work with someone treat their business as your own. If you see, say something! Make suggestions and feel free to offer views. “I want you to have a successful business, and if I’m associated with that you will grow and I will grow,” says Roman.

IV.  Get agreement on strategy. Before you get into specifics hash out the strategy. Who are you trying to reach, what is it about this target audience you should know? Do your homework and think about what it is you are trying to accomplish for you client. Put in writing. This will provide a basis on how to manage a relationship when you don’t always agree because you won’t always agree.

V.  Give clients ideas that they didn’t ask for.Show some initiative. Offer one new idea per month. “At the end of the year you’ve given the clients at least a dozen ideas they didn’t ask for,” says Roman. It worked for Ogilvy and will likely work for you.  Your competition isn’t doing this.

VI. Build bridges at multiple levels. There is danger in limiting your contacts. When one person on either side of the relationship changes, the whole relationship with the company could change. That’s how you lose business. Bonus point: Pay attention to the junior people. Take the trouble to talk to them. Not only will you learn more about the company from a different angle, one day these guys will be the bosses.

VII.  Listen. Clients really get angry when you don’t listen. Ask questions before offering opinions. Take notes. Put it in writing. But know this: Once you agree to something you absolutely, positively must deliver.

VIII. Treat the client’s money as your own. Spend their money as careful as you would your own. Put the client’s interest first and take a long term view. You will be rewarded.

IX.  Deal with issues not people. When you have problem with somebody do not comment on people- deal with issues. Don’t make it a people issue make it an issue.

X.  Make friends with your clients. It’s very hard to fire a friend.

And finally a guiding principal to do business by: You win new business on creative ideas and lose it on relationships. You lose business because something has changed and the client doesn’t trust you any more to solve their problems. They don’t trust you to fix ii. They instead say "we want fresh approach in our creative or say that want a fresh approach for a new product." You must continually build and grow business relationships.

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Comments on this post

  1. Ken is a great guy and an incredibly insightful business leader. I recommend anyone in business to read How to Advertise. Thanks for the post. Particle the opening sentence, funny and true.

  2. Pingback: Top 5 Rules of Client Engagement for Account Managers | e-storm International

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