Harry’s Declassified Account Management Survival Guide

From brief writing to building trust, navigating the creative industry as an Account Manager takes a lot of learning. Not one day is the same – sometimes you’re working with the paid media team on media buying, other times you’re ordering a custom tartan fabric or acting as a runner on a shoot.

Account Managers have a broad remit; in short, they act as translators between clients and agency teams, ensuring information is shared in a way that is understandable for both.

Sounds a lot, right? Well, whether you’re new to the industry or an account executive looking to take the next step, here are my top 5 tips for navigating the creative industry to ensure when it’s your turn to wear many hats, they’re a comfortable fit!

Think client first

As an account manager, you should always take a client first mentality into each project or campaign. You may need to play the role of good cop/bad cop as you manage expectations where necessary, stay on project timelines and budget, and keep tabs on ‘brief creep’ from the creative team. When the client succeeds, you succeed too! Position yourself to the clients as partners, who have shared objectives and are working towards a common goal.

Have commercial acumen

It’s important of course to understand the who/what/when/where/why of it all – but you’ll also want to make sure you understand the budget – both to make sure creative ideas are to scale, and to make sure the project will be able to hit its targets. 

We all know clients have big ideas, but their budgets aren’t always as big. It’s crucial you, as the account manager, have the ability to know whether the ideas the client has are viable within the budgets they are proposing. Making sure their expectations are aligned to what is possible is a key skill for account managers to navigate the creative industry. 

Trust the process

Fellow Arsenal supporters may have heard the phrase “trust the process” a lot in the last few years, but when it comes to navigating the creative industry, ensuring your client has a good understanding of the agency’s process is key. 

Sometimes a project comes through with a tight turnaround. Whilst you always want to do the best for your clients, it is important they understand that projects take time, and the needs of the creative team must be met in order to create a high quality output. This can be one of the hardest parts of an account manager’s job, but the better the understanding they have of the process, the better the quality of content.

Be operationally on it

Being operationally on it is so important as an account manager. For many people both internally and externally you are the go-to person – which is why it is vital to make sure you’re up-to-speed! Whether that’s updating everyone on the status of a project and the next steps, or even just being on top of your inbox, this allows you to be able to keep control and in some instances allows you to be 1 or 2 steps ahead of your client in the process. 

Keep your finger on the pulse. When working in the creative industry, and social specifically, the landscape can change in an instant. New trends are emerging frequently and it is important to make sure you are knowledgeable to support clients – you’re the expert, not just a content farm. This also allows you to identify new opportunities – not just to upsell for upsell’s sake, but to really hit the business objectives and make some strong choices.

Be a risk taker

As you get to know your client, you’ll soon realise whether they are willing to take risks or not. By being able to recognise the core strength of their idea and fully getting behind it (both emotionally and practically), you can start to propose more forward thinking content that the client may not have previously considered. This can lead to even greater results. It should be noted, however, the importance of trust in the relationship with your client. The more trust they have in you to deliver, the more likely they are to take a ‘risk’. 


There you have it, my top five tips for navigating the creative industry as an account manager. Hopefully these will have you feeling prepared to take the industry by storm! If you feel you need further survival guidance, my colleague (and fellow account manager) Carys and I did a great webinar with the Content Marketing Association where you can find even more advice, check it out here


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