The Art of Client ServiceThis past weekend I had a chance to read Robert Solomon’s “The Art of Client Service, 58 Things Every Advertising & Marketing Professional Should Know”. As a sales and marketing professional, I am always looking for good books to help educate, inspire, and motivate. Furthermore, with a direct marketing background and experience managing and interacting with agencies such as Hill|Holiday, Kolar Advertising, and Tocquigny, I have always been fascinated by the inner workings of the agency world for it’s variety, fast pace, and analytical horsepower.

Overall, this is a great read for someone new to the agency world. However, I believe even experienced ad agency folks would learn from the valuable lessons and wisdom Mr. Solomon imparts. While the book highlights many key tactics and strategies to make you successful as an Account Executive, what resonated for me was the value of building outstanding relationships with your clients and peers within the agency. It highlighted the value of emotional intelligence and how to truly interact, encourage, and lead others to the best decision for the client. I especially enjoyed the specific examples where a key learning took place and his reflection on the experience.

For someone new to the industry, these stories would be very revealing of how work gets done. A few of his chapters highlight the need to take the time to get the creative brief on target to avoid scope creep later. Having personally experienced a few occasions where the first brief missed the mark, I can tell you how important communication is in this process. Furthermore, oftentimes you’ll be in agreement on the brief, and the first concepts come back and do not come close to what was expected. As with any sales engagement, setting and managing expectations around the process, timeline, and budget are essential. Another point he makes in the book is about the value of long-standing client relationships.

As you work with an agency on multiple projects, the client executive starts to learn what you like and don’t like and whether you are a risk-taker. Many agencies often have to hold back on the riskier recommendation, if they know their client is not a risk-taker. For those of you that know me, I tend to push the envelope. Oftentimes, the agency would present an even better idea than I imagined. I would then need to go fight for budget or solicit partners for funding. I truly enjoyed this part of the process and excelled at selling the value of a new initiative internally and to co-marketers.

What Makes a Great Account Person?

At the end of the book, Mr. Solomon shares a discussion he had with a prospective candidate for an entry-level account service position. It’s an outstanding read with a hilarious ending. Read the full story here.

Robert Solomon’s Recommended Reading:

I really enjoyed Mr. Solomon’s chapter on additional sources of information to invest your time in. He, of course, points out periodicals such as AdAge, Adweek, The Wall Street Journal and New York Times. Below is a list of his suggested books to read with links to Amazon (affiliate).

On Communicating:

  1. Strunk, William, and E. B. White. The Elements of Style, 4th ed. (Allyn & Bacon, 2000)
  2. Zinsser, William. On Writing Well, 6th ed. (Harper-Perennial, 1998)
  3. Roman, Kenneth, and Joel Raphaelson. Writing That Works (Quill/HarperCollins, 2000)
  4. Hoff, Ron. I Can See You Naked (Andrews and McNeel, 1992)

On Client Relationships:

  1. Maister, David H., Charles H. Green, and Robert M. Galford. The Trusted Advisor (Free Press, 2000)
  2. Sheth, Jagdish, and Andrew Sobel. Clients for Life (Simon & Schuster, 2000)
  3. Solomon, Robert. The Art of Client Service (Dearborn Trade Press, 2003)

On Creativity and Advertising:

  1. Monahan, Tom. The Do-It-Yourself Lobotomy (John Wiley & Sons, 2002)
  2. Sullivan, Luke. Hey Whipple, Squeeze This (John Wiley & Sons, 1998)
  3. Ogilvy, David. Ogilvy on Advertising (Vintage Books, 1985)

On Strategy:

  1. Ries, Al, and Jack Trout. Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind (McGraw-Hill Trade, 2000)
  2. Morgan, Adam. Eating the Big Fish (John Wiley & Sons, 1999)
  3. Steel, Jon. Truth, Lies, and Advertising (John Wiley & Sons, 1998)
  4. Gladwell, Malcolm. The Tipping Point (Little, Brown & Company, 2000)

On Business Leadership:

  1. Collins, Jim. Good to Great (HarperBusiness, 2001)

Six other Books:

  1. Fallon, Pat, and Fed Senn. Juicing the Orange (Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2006).
  2. Gladwell, Malcolm. Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 2005).
  3. Kelley, Tom, and Jonathan Littman. The Art of Innovation. (New York: Doubleday, 2001).
  4. Neumeier, Marty. The Brand Gap: How to Bridge the Distance Between Business Strategy and Design (Indianapolis, IN: New Riders, 2006).
  5. Verklin, David, and Bernice Kanner. Watch This Listen Up Click Here (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2007).
  6. Myers, Danny. Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business .HarperCollins (October 3, 2006)

All in all this is a solid read that you should be able to tackle in a few nights and I would encourage you to pickup a copy online or at your favorite bookstore. Take the recommended reading list with you and buy a few books to build your library. I invite your thoughts as well on the book, agency life, or anything else.

What would you add?

You can find me on twitter @mikedmerrill

  • http://www.thesunglassmanonline.com/ Sunglasses

    I am so happy that he chose to recommend The Elements of Style. I read it in a college communications class, and it has been one of the best investments of my time for my professional life. You are able to communicate in a more eloquent manner and it really makes an impression with your clients!

  • http://www.thesunglassmanonline.com/ Sunglasses

    I am so happy that he chose to recommend The Elements of Style. I read it in a college communications class, and it has been one of the best investments of my time for my professional life. You are able to communicate in a more eloquent manner and it really makes an impression with your clients!

  • Anonymous

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  • http://www.junocopywriting.com/ Devid Jhon

    I believe even experienced ad agency folks would learn from the valuable lessons and wisdom Mr. Solomon imparts. I would then need to go fight for budget or solicit partners for funding. Thanks!

  • Robert Solomon

    Greetings Mike! There’s anew edition of the book, and I believe you have a copy. I’d welcome your comments if you choose to share them.

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