Account Madness - Linda Chan, Lexlab

By AdNews | 26 April 2024
Linda Chan.

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

This time we talk to Linda Chan, Lexlab, Senior Account Manager

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

A little bit of both! I moved to Melbourne from London 12 years ago, where I was working as a senior performance analyst, specialising in UK commercial property indexing. After the move, I worked remotely – which, in hindsight, was remarkably progressive! - however at the time, it felt isolating in a new city. I initially looked for jobs as a performance analyst but found it challenging, because I didn’t have any Australian experience. I decided to pivot my skills to another industry - I saw an account manager role at a digital publisher, which required many parallel skills, such as the ability to decode data, understand client needs and navigate relationships. Luckily, the account director at the time, Alfie Lagos (now my current boss/Lexlab founder) also recognised these transferable abilities and took me on.

I worked my way to Head of Account Management at the organisation, but after nearly 10 years, it was time for me to try something different. I reconnected with Alfie, and was delighted to be offered a position at his new company, Lexlab.

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

At Lexlab, we’re about campaign strategy and implementation, not ad creation - we leave that to the creative agencies. However, there is a cross-over during the planning stage. We liaise closely with the creative agency, so they know which assets are required for each digital platform and educate them on best practices to ensure money isn’t wasted on incorrect or low-performing ads. Balancing a client’s objectives and creative vision doesn’t fall directly under our remit, but we still need to ensure their vision is deliverable. This ultimately relies on us maintaining open communication with both the client and creative agency, which allows us to advise them to adapt where necessary.

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

While we aren’t a creative agency, we do provide feedback to our clients regarding best-performing creative, helping them make informed, data-driven decisions for future campaigns.

How to build strong relationships with clients?

Building strong client relationships is essential for success in account management.

Start by thoroughly researching your clients’ businesses — understand their industry, pain points, and goals. It’s important to set clear expectations regarding deliverables and timelines, and be transparent in your communication. By being responsive and promptly acknowledging queries, you’re able to demonstrate your accessibility, which allows clients to feel confident and secure in your service.

Beyond business transactions, create personal connections by getting to know your clients. This can be exceptionally helpful in deepening relationships and makes it easier to have challenging conversations. When challenges arise, adopt a collaborative approach when finding solutions to foster a sense of mutual trust, further strengthening the relationship.

Finally, celebrate milestones and wins together to reinforce the relationship. Strong client relationships are built over time, and are maintained through consistent effort, genuine care, and mutual respect.

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

It’s important to listen to a client’s needs and concerns to understand their perspective. Emphasis solutions rather than roadblocks, and always frame your responses positively.

You also want to back your proposal with quantifiable data or real-world examples. Numbers and tangible success stories resonate with clients and provide reassurance, which can de-escalate a situation. 

Address any client objections head-on, acknowledge risks, and provide timely and actionable mitigation plans. Use visual aids like charts or mock-ups to help make complex ideas more digestible. 

Finally, weave a compelling narrative around your idea - explain how it aligns with clients’ goals. Confidence, empathy, and strategic communication are key to effectively managing difficult conversations.

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

I’m interested to see what happens when Google phases out third-party cookies this year. The challenge for account managers will be assessing the alternative solutions presented in the market, especially given the industry has yet to reach a consensus on the best way forward. There have been several interesting alternatives presented – I’ll be excited to see how the market innovates. It’s apparent that first-party data will be gold, so we will be working closely with clients over the coming months to ensure they have a robust source. 

AI is another obvious emerging trend. I think it will be necessary for account managers to be confident using platforms such as ChatGPT or Copilot. I was initially highly sceptical about their practical application, but it does a great job creating social headlines and descriptions. However, outputs do need to be edited and adapted as they often read like they’ve been written by AI, so I’m not too worried about it taking my job just yet!

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

Embrace curiosity and learning. The industry evolves rapidly, so it’s important to stay curious about new trends, technologies, and best practices. Seek out mentors, attend workshops, and read extensively. Learning never stops! 

Invest time in understanding your clients, their goals, and their pain points. Building strong relationships is a pivotal part of the job. Trust is the foundation of effective account management, and you will succeed by cultivating genuine, trusting relationships. 

Be solution-oriented - challenges will arise, but it’s important to focus on solutions, not problems.

Communicate clearly. Ensure you express yourself succinctly in emails, meetings, and presentations. It’s also crucial to stay organised, so I’d recommend using tools like calendars and checklists. 

Finally, self-care matters, especially given the propensity for stress in this fast-moving and dynamic industry. Prioritise exercise, rest, and most importantly, a healthy work-life balance.


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