Account Madness - Selina Martin, Claxon

Article was originally published by AdNews on 9 April, 2024

This series of articles looks at the world of the account manager.

This time, we talk to Selina Martin, Account Director, Claxon

How did you end up in account management? Was it by design or a cosmic accident?

My media career started as a cosmic accident. In 1990, the older sister of a school friend working at Channel 10 said they were looking for Media Assistants. That lucky break launched my career in an industry I didn’t really know existed. It certainly wasn’t something we learned at school as a career option!

I have spent the majority of my time in the industry in various media sales roles including senior management. More recently, I have become a little more adventurous in looking at different roles and areas of interest, and I have now found myself in my current Account Director role. Working at an Independent, full-service agency enables me to apply my offline experience to craft solutions for clients. Being able to support a client across PR, creative, digital, and offline not only helps drive a positive ROAS but also gives the ability to see the “Big Picture truly”.

Balancing clients’ objectives and creative vision can be challenging. How do you deal with that?

Client objectives and visions are there for a reason, so it’s all about asking questions and understanding how they have evolved. As a good agency partner, we can align the creative with the client’s growth vision. It’s also really important to have great—and open—relationships with publishers to gain insights and examples of similar brand campaigns and creativity, so you constantly learn by being exposed to additional knowledge.

I’m lucky because we have a huge pool of experience within the team, particularly in the creative space, with whom I can discuss ideas. We openly discuss why things are going to work or not; we’re not afraid to speak up and back our thoughts, but at the same time, we offer alternatives for consideration. We can also easily test creatives for clients to see what is the most effective before applying this to broader campaigns such as offline ones. The common goal across the team is success.

What strategies do you employ to clearly convey creative ideas to clients and address client feedback?

At Claxon, we are super lucky to have a very clever creative team that comes up with excellent and unique creative ideas and can also explain these ideas to non-creative peeps and clients. Our team has embraced AI and recently used it to develop concepts to present to a client so they could really bring their ideas to life. The quality of the creative used for the pitch was so good we could have used it as the final creative, but of course, the grand finale was even better.  AI is now a core tool across our business, saving us time, saving our clients’ budgets, and enhancing our creative output.

How do you build strong relationships with clients?

Strong relationships start with communication and trust. But doing and delivering what you promise still goes a long way to establishing a great relationship. Being available, responding promptly and communicating with the right amount of detail is also paramount. Coming from a media sales background, my skills have simply transferred to client management and service from an agency perspective. I realised early on that it’s not hard to be a good sales rep and apply the same principles, work ethic and actions to the account management team.

Do you have any go-to tips for navigating challenging conversations with clients? And effectively selling an idea.

Challenging conversations can only be handled with honesty and humility. The number of times I have heard people in our industry say, “We are not saving lives,” would have made me rich if I had been collecting money each time. While that might be true, we are still responsible for ensuring successful outcomes for every campaign we run, and when we are dealing with our client’s investment, we need to be accountable for the outcome.

If you are addressing a problem, always present a solution. Nothing is unaddressable; you just need to find a suitable and mutual solution. In regards to effectively selling an idea, we have access to insights and data, so we present ideas based on research. Our clients appreciate what we put forward and the depth behind the ideas. We take them on the journey of how we came to the idea or solution we are now presenting.

Are there any emerging trends or challenges in the industry that account management teams should be prepared for?

Any total platform or cross-platform data solutions would be welcome. Being able to see a campaign holistically in its performance and delivery would be a big step forward. It’s hard for offline channels to compete with the transparency of the digital world. We are seeing more conversations around attribution when it comes to traditional media, but we are also being questioned on the survey methodologies for these channels a lot, and the industry needs to move faster to find better ways of gathering accurate data.

What advice would you give your younger self when you first started out in account service?

Always treat people the way you wish to be treated.

You are your own brand. Present yourself as such.

Reach for the stars, baby; you can do whatever you want!

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