Who is the most important player on the agency team? The creative director who is responsible for making the work? Or the account director who consistently sells the work and thereby keeps the agency doors open and people employed?
The Best Creative Leaders Are Account Service Pros
In a small shop, the partners often come from a creative background and then work their way into rainmaking and client service. For many creative people, learning how to sell and how to manage difficult client relationships is some of the heaviest liftings they’ll do on the job.
It’s a struggle to align two companies and two teams, no matter how good the fit. When the fit is poor or bad, it’s nearly impossible.
Mark DiMassimo of DiMassimo Goldstein in New York City knows the problem. Better yet, he knows what to do about it. If a co-worker or a client is a drag on your team’s morale, and therefore your team’s productivity, you have a festering problem seeking an immediate solution.
In DiMassimo Goldstein’s case, the agency used courage to motivate action. Sometimes, it can be hard to live by your own rules, especially when lost income is the result. My hat is off to DiMassimo and his team for sending the problem packing. Living and working with integrity is hard and it’s exactly what the world—the ad world especially—needs now.
Know What Matters To You and Know When To Walk Away
My hope in sharing this story with you is that you might pause and take a look at the client relationships that do not serve you or your team. There’s value in saving yourself and your team from the whims of an unconscious or unkind client.
There’s also value for the industry at large when we collectively move to higher ground.
The ad industry can’t continue to ask for respect from clients or from their customers. We have to earn it, like everyone else. And we earn it by having professional standards that guide our conduct.
DiMassimo used courage, which is a company value, to guide his decisions. When you know what matters to you, you also know where you stand and what you have to do for yourself and your team. Clients who know no better (and some who do) will run you ragged if you let them. Don’t let them.
Also, it’s a good idea not to spring any of these values on an unsuspecting client. From the first contact, how the agency works and why must be part of the conversation. People who sell services for a living are always striking a balance between being open, helpful, and friendly and being a common-sense business person with boundaries. It’s a tough job to perform, and those who do it well are Marcom magicians.
At the top of this article, I asked if the account director who consistently sells the work and thereby keeps the agency doors open and people employed is the most important player on the team. My answer is yes because everything flows from the power of the relationship.