Thursday, July 20, 2006



Thank Goodness It's Almost Friday.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


A bunch of folks were out of the office last week on business, so I got a chance to try on a few more hats than usual - including that of receptionist. After working here for nearly two years, I finally figured out how to transfer a phone call to someone's voicemail. At least I THINK those calls went to voice mail.

Anyhow, one of the roles I had to fill was that of Account Executive. These are the go-between folks who manage jobs internally, while setting and meeting the expectations of clients. To those of us in the creative department (where the rubber meets the road), the Account Executive position has always appeared to be little more than a lot of photocopying. These folks are always on the phone, or sending out e-mails to make sure people are getting what they need on time. They're typing up schedules and sending out estimates and following up with vendors. You know - office work. But I found out firsthand last week that it's actually a lot more than that - and a lot more stressful.

You see, clients want two things: cheaper and faster. That's it. Doesn't matter how big of a deal you're already cutting them, they always want it cheaper. And faster. And when you explain that faster may compromise the quality, they ask you if that means they can get it cheaper. And when you explain that getting it cheaper means they'll be compromising the quality, they ask if they can get it faster. And if you give them cheaper, they'll still ask for faster. And if you give them faster, they'll still ask for cheaper. Business is brutal.

In most cases, quality is a forethought and an afterthought. Clients come in saying how nice they want something to be, and how they're willing to spend a little money to get it, and even give you all the time you need to come up with something that kicks much ass. But as soon as you get started, they want it done yesterday, and for a fraction of the price.

So last week, there I was - Associate Creative Director turned Account Executive - sending out e-mails and following up with vendors. Meanwhile, the clients were all asking for the same shit: can I get it sooner, and can I get it cheaper?

The creative department person in me wanted to lecture them on what it means to use a professional marketing firm. I wanted to explain how a recent college graduate freelancing from his parents' basement could probably have something done by tomorrow, and for a tenth of the price - and that it would likely not achieve the desired marketing objectives. But I bit my tongue and defaulted to the Account Executive catch phrase: "Let me get back to you on that."

And as difficult as that was, I realized that clients are only one front in this war. The Account Executive also gets a lot of pushback from the inside. Every time they try to get something cheaper and faster for their client, the folks at the agency throw their hands up and scream at them.

"We're already turning this around in a week - and we're actually losing money on it! Push the date back and up the estimate!"

So the Account Executive has to slink back to the computer and let the client know that we're doing the best we can to get them everything they need as soon as they can, and as cost-efficiently as possible.

In short, being an Account Executive sucks and I have a newfound appreciation for the people who do it well.