Account Madness - Lisa Hosking, UM

By AdNews | 20 May 2024
Lisa Hosking.

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

This time we talk to Lisa Hosking, Client Partner, UM

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

My first job in advertising was at a creative agency as PA to Account Leader/Founder working in an environment akin to Mad Men.  Eye opening in my early 20’s.  Moving across to a media agency, I was forged in the fires of Mordor (aka Trading on a $60m FMCG account with a microscopic team) quickly learning the importance of attention to detail, time management and building a culture of mutual respect alongside fun with clients, media owners and colleagues. 

Over the subsequent years I’ve been fortunate to work as a media strategist embedded in a creative agency, honing my planning craft in planning/comms director roles and then the logical step into client and team leadership roles.  The tapestry of experience has been vital to my success as it’s enabled me to lean into each craft speciality with knowledge and empathy working with my team to elevate ideas and ensure they connect ultimately to delivering client’s needs.

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

The best outcomes are always delivered in collaboration with an agency village and the client.  Having a voice and involvement by the media agency at the start of the creative development process, clarity on target audience (needs, wants, behaviours), alignment on the realities of the budget has in my experience ensured the agency village is working in sync and in pursuit of delivering client objectives.

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

There is no one-size-fits-all approach as we are all human and receive and process information in different ways.  I remember one client I worked on needed a 100-slide presentation crossing all the t’s and dotting i’s before entertaining an idea; versus another client who only needed10 slides of perfectly curated images only designed to make them fall in love with the idea. We’ve presented on scrolls, in play centres and at pubs!  I think we have a lot to learn from creative agencies who have finessed the art of the creative sell in steering away from death by PowerPoint.

How to build strong relationships with clients?

Give them what they want!  Kidding – kind of.  It is a constantly learning process.  The end goal is mutual trust and respect.  Clients need to trust that you can give them the advice and calibre of work that they need.  They need to know they can rely on you to deliver (evidenced through great work alongside the hygiene of delivering things on time and to the level of the expectations set) but equally need to set clear boundaries and have open and transparent conversations.  I’ve found that engaging clients along thy way, keeping them informed is far better than a big reveal.  They need to also manage their stakeholders – understanding what their bosses are looking for and helping them deliver to that is also key.

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

Prepare.  Prepare, Prepare.  Don’t leap into a conversation without understanding fully the situation, the impact on the client and potential solutions.  Engage in active listening as there may be a perspective you haven’t thought about, and keep your cool.  Understand that challenging conversations can get heated so stay calm, be empathic and be patient.  You may need to take a break from the conversation to allow both parties to collect thoughts and approach again with a clearer perspective.  Sometimes though the best laid plans don’t work and then you need to ensure that your leadership has your back.  I recall a confronting meeting once with a very intimidating client who yelled at me, slammed their fist on the table and then stormed out of the presentation.  But my agency leadership had my back which meant the world.

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

I asked Chat GPT when will technology become sentient and take over from humans but the sneaky thing underplayed its hand and said currently beyond predictive capabilities. Despite what Chat GPT says I think we are at the precipice of dramatic change in our industry at the very least using AI to our advantage in doing the heavy lifting on menial tasks but also in helping us making better decisions faster than ever before. 

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

I would re-frame this question into advice for my younger self when starting out in media not just client leadership.  Life is short, work hard but make sure you prioritise your health, relationships and travel.  I also would have like to have done a degree in Behavioural Economics when I had the time and the spare cash, but children and high interest rates have killed any semblance of a nest egg to fund!

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