Brent Trotter is an integrated marketing professional by trade, a writer by hobby and an entrepreneur at heart. His passion is solving problems – “from the inside out” – with creativity, efficiency and a genuine purpose at the heart. He currently works in Account Management at Ogilvy & Mather, a full-service advertising, marketing and public relations agency in Chicago, IL. Before Ogilvy, he worked as a Junior Search Marketing Analyst at iProspect and a Media Analyst at Edelman Berland – the research arm of the worlds largest independently owned public relations firm, Edelman. He has a B.S. in Advertising & Communications from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. You can visit his blog, “Optimism & Introspection” or find him on Linkedin, here.
1. Most job postings cite “X” years of relevant work experience and specific education criteria as requirements to be considered for the position. With this in mind, what prior work experiences and degrees/certifications/training helped prepare you for your current role?
I learned a long time ago from an advertising professor that for the most part, agencies looking for entry level hires only care about a couple things – that you’re smart, willing to work hard (i.e. long hours – but they don’t tell you that) and have the potential to learn very quickly. I happened to have an advertising degree – which can be as much of a gift as a curse if you aren’t careful. But the most important skill to have in account management that I’ve developed is adaptability.
1B. What (if any) additional knowledge or skills that you don’t currently have would make you even better at your job?
A deeper knowledge of the landscape in which our clients operate is always beneficial. The greater you understand their challenges, the better questions you ask – and in turn, you’re able to service them more effectively.
When talking hard skills, presentation design with Keynote and Powerpoint are always good to have – since we’re telling stories both internally and externally all the time, mastery of those tools is always a plus.
2. Some jobs require the incumbent to be very analytical. Others require one to be a strong communicator, and others still require traits like patience, the ability to multitask, self-directedness, comfort with ambiguity, and exceptional attention to detail. Are there any behaviors and/or attributes that you would say are essential to performing the work that you do?
I spoke a bit to it earlier, but I would say that overall within the industry, flexibility and adaptability are paramount. Things evolve so quickly in our industry, especially in the digital space – from the platforms marketers try to tap, to the various emerging partners to the clients we work with on a daily basis. You’ve got to be able to ride the wave of change and not get swallowed up.
Another skill that’s right along the same level of importance is objectivity. For example, there are a million ways to slice a piece of data to make it read how you’d like it to, but at the end of the day you need to understand the clients objectives and determine if your communications are working or not.
3. Jobs guru Lou Adler says there are only 4 job types of jobs in the world (producers, improvers, builders, and thinkers). Which type of job are you in?
As Adler mentioned in his post, most positions take into account various elements of each job type — with a skew towards one or two primarily. Account management is a department whose responsibilities span across each type as well. We’re expected to create (thinker), construct (builder), optimize (improver) and execute (producer) during a campaign from inception to completion. But there are areas that I spend more time on than others. In my current role though, I’d say my breakdown is something like 5% thinker, 15% builder, 30% improver, 50% producer.
4. Does your job involve either directly or indirectly supervising or managing people? If so, how many direct (or indirect) reports do you have?
I’m only two years in so I’m not directly supervising anyone, but I suppose the reason they call the department “account management” is because for many people that’s a huge part of their day. We work with project managers, copy writers, strategic planners, etc., and it’s our job to keep everyone on the same page and to keep things moving on any given project. It’s odd to me sometimes because I consider myself a “hands off” type when it comes to managing people. I like to trust those I’m working with to get things done without someone guiding their hand. I’ll suggest a better way of getting something done if things aren’t moving fast enough. And only once someone gives me a reason to believe they won’t deliver will I step in and take the reins.
5. How does what you do impact the business? Think complexity (different types of impacts) and scale (degree of impact). Put another way: Who and what would be impacted if your job wasn’t being done well, and why would it matter that they were impacted?
To put it simply – and to quote our agencies founder – our job is to “Sell or Else”. I think that can be looked at in two ways: Our job is to help our clients meet their business goals. Often times, that means to help them sell more of their product. The account team is there to ensure that the goals of our client are being met. We also have to build up a level of trust. We’re gauged on our ability to be credible, reliable and personable, all while keeping the clients goals first.
With the agency in mind, our job is to bring in revenue, too. We’re doing a good job if we’re selling in new programs, and ensuring that the work we are doing is being accounted for in our SOW. But we shouldn’t be selling in a program just to bring in more cash, it needs to meet the objectives our client wants to achieve or shed light on a new opportunity.
The account team is there to make sure those things are happening.
6. Is your job safe? Rate its safety on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being “seated all day in an air conditioned vault” and 10 being “I’m an astronaut going into space”. If your job isn’t safe, what working conditions (specifically) make it hazardous?
The only “unsafe” part about my job is the risk of stress-induced high blood pressure. So I’d say like a 3. But I don’t panic or get all stressed for any reason anyway, so it’s more like a 1 for me. We’re not neurosurgeons. We’re ad execs.
7. Is there anything I missed that people should know about your job? Is there anything else you want to say about what you do?
A long time ago, I realized the potential power of mastering the art of mass communication, influence and storytelling. It’s the reason I got into advertising in the first place. Working in the industry has opened my eyes to what advertising is and what it can be. The hard and soft skills you learn are so widely applicable. The people you come across are so varied and interesting. The time you spend – be it late nights at the office or happy hour with co-workers – will be some of the most memorable in your life.
As always, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.