“My AE knows Nuts!”

“My AE knows Nuts!”

“My AE knows nuts. He’s no more than a coordinator with a big sounding name.”

Is he nuts?This is another common complain heard from the client side as well as the Account Executive’s own agency, especially from his creative department. I can empathize with the client who believe that the AE should be responsible, at least partially, to help generate awareness and sales, but I can also fully relate to the poor guy who is totally bewildered and clueless of his role and responsibilities (the AE, of course).

The AE is the liaison between his agency and his agency’s client. And within his own agency, he’s got to work closely with creative, art, studio, production, media and more departments to get his projects done. In some way, he is the beef patty in a hamburger, being squeezed from both sides. And he has to manage them all; making sure both sides are happy, i.e., deliver a great campaign for his client and profits to his agency.

Many small agencies choose to hire someone fresh from school or with just 2-3 years’ experience in marketing or sales and leave them to fend for themselves. This is a mistake. Without proper guidance, this rookie AE will likely end up writing tons of contact reports to his clients, and parroting his clients’ wish list to his agency. That would certainly irk them all. Why? Because one expects him to be his extended marketing arm, while the other requires him to bring in a sufficiently complete brief to kick start a brainstorm/creative session.

While seemingly simple, the job of the AE is a complex web of communications, street smarts, market knowledge and a mixture of skills that would make a normal sales man swoon in confusion!

What does it take to be a successful AE? Generally, he would have to be:

Knowledgeable – Good grasp of marketing communications, marketing and sales concepts. Without these, he can’t help to sell anything!

Business savvy – In-depth understanding of the client’s business, the marketplace and his client’s clients.

Analytical and Insightful – Analyze the client’s Agency Brief (see earlier blog Is Your Ad Agency Really So Lousy!), ask intelligent questions, all these information plus own insights to write a Creative Brief for his agency. The creative brief, like the client’s agency brief, could make or break a project.

Good interpersonal skills – Extremely useful in getting things done within the agency where almost all projects are important or urgent. This is also of paramount importance in escalating the client-agency relationship to new heights.

AE’s job is no mean feat and may not suit everyone. But for those who enjoy and flourish as AE, good for them. I know for sure they would cherish every moment of success and were wiser from every knocks and falls.

PS: I receivedĀ a few interesting and hilarious feedback on this post and that spurred me to write more details on How to Hire and Spot a Good AE (Account Executive). Check it out!

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[tags]ad agency, advertising agency, marketing agency, AE, Account Executive, Advertising Executive, Criteria for hiring Account Executive, Qualities of Account Executive[/tags]

3 Replies to ““My AE knows Nuts!””

  1. “…In some way, he is the beef patty in a hamburger …”

    Interesting comparison…so when the beef patty turns sour, the whole hamburger should be thrown away….?

    In my opinion, AE is like a waiter/waitress taking orders…find out what exactly the customers want to eat and deliver the message exactly to the kitchen. Of course he/she needs to know what’s in the restaurant menu in the 1st place.

    Can’t understand why AEs need to write creative brief, since they are not the expert in creativity, why not leave this parts to the creativity expert??? It is like a waiter/waitress trying to tell the chef how he/she thinks the dishes supposed to be cooked.

  2. On the surface, the AE is just like a waiter. However, the creative process is much more interractive than a cook preparing food for customers. The creative brief is an interpretation of the agency brief provided by the client, translated into terms that the creative team can understand and execute. That’s why the AE is an important link between what the client wants and what the agency produces.

    It is like a User Requirement Specs that a Product Manager will produce. It is the “link” between what the market wants and what the development team can undersand and use to execute. :)

  3. “When the beef patty turns sour, the whole hamburger should be thrown away…?”

    Actually, most times, it IS the AE that wins or loses the account! :D Guess that is why sales people are paid so much… sigh… i should have gone into sales… :(

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