Fifteen years ago I joined an advertising industry as an account handler. As I look around my agency today, the very last thing I do is any advertising.
We’re witnessing the explosion of new formats, channels, categories, media, clients, agencies, disciplines, platforms, experiences and it’s accelerating day by day. Combine this with the connected workplace that we call the @work state of mind and you have what is emphatically the most exciting time to work in our business.
But what business is that exactly? To us, it’s one that germinates and directs humanly relevant ideas.
However, here’s the thing: Ideas aren’t linear. And neither is the process of developing or igniting them through a connected experience.
This reality puts demands on account handlers and is causing wide-ranging industry debate about “future-proof suits.” Here in Stockholm we’ve taken this debate to the highest level and have begun lecturing at one of the best communication schools in the world: Berghs. At the school, the intersection of creativity, technology and new thinking converges and feels like a perfect storm.
This new energy is fueling our ideas shop, and it’s exciting.
In an environment where the idea is king, there can be no hierarchies. Digital doesn’t sit in a department. Neither does creativity. Modern account handlers must run an iterative process that is collaborative, inclusive and multidisciplinary so that our clients have the chance to connect in a world that is always on.
So, what is the most important thing in today’s landscape?
It always has been and it always will be the work.
But great work is risky. Great work needs a brave client. And that means that a strong client relationship is more important than ever.
This is where the remastered account handler comes into play. The remastered account handler understands how to make it happen but understands that the nature of it has changed.
I still remember my first day in a large London agency and being told by the CEO that the account handler is like the quarterback. Today this picture is more complex: There is no playbook to develop a great idea.
The modern account handler has to be entrepreneurial, tenacious, creative and digitally native. It’s about creating the conditions that make a difference.
However, the very nature of making a difference has changed too. So many things can kill an idea early.
Ideas often come from the unknown, and this can be scary for clients. Managing expectations through the ideation process is key. We have to help our clients understand that a leap into the unknown can be exhilarating.
Developing a PR idea, branded content for a Web TV show, inventing new types of social interaction, creating ongoing conversations with emotional content—none of these ideas has preprogrammed steps.
It’s incumbent on the remastered account handler to build confidence with clients and inspire them into action. Dare to show your client why it’s called the great unknown. It’s about much, much more than managing the relationship.
When you are base jumping in the dark, it’s about much more than trust too.
Problems are bound to occur, but having problems means you are pushing things. Problems are good. The modern account handler needs to remember that problem solving is our currency. It creates value to your colleagues and to your client. More important, it creates a culture where good ideas can germinate and grow into truly great ones.
Martin Johnson is an account director at gyro, the global ideas shop.
Follow him @mjsverige
He also blogs regularly here
Here is the slideshare presentation on the future-proof suits given to Berghs.
Originally published at Ignite Something on the Forbes CMO Network