August 04, 2016


Client Love ›

When your client lacks expertise

In the ideal world all of our clients would be masters of their own universe — highly qualified, have worked in their jobs for ever, and know their industry back to front; they would all understand advertising channels, and be used to working with agencies and their processes. Unfortunately, the reality is often quite different, and this can be highly frustrating for account managers. 

There are many reasons why your client may lack expertise in their own business. They may be:  

  • A recent graduate from university and everything is new. 

  • New to their company. 

  • New to the industry. 

  • New to working with agencies. 

  • A young entrepreneur with seniority but still much to learn. 

  • Not receiving accurate information from their internal team. 

It is highly unlikely that your client would deliberately use their lack of knowledge to make your life difficult; therefore how should you handle the situation?


Be a guide 

Your client knows what they know, but they may not know that they don't know (you know?!). You have a handle on what you'll need to execute your projects and campaigns, so who better to help them through the process (in an empathetic, non-condescending way) than you? 


Communication is key 

If you can keep the conversation flowing, you'll give both yourself and your client the best chance of getting everything right. Conversation will allow space for questions, realisations and adjustments if required.  


Keep the processes tight 

Using solid agency processes will help to catch any holes or anomalies in the information supplied by your client. Getting a solid brief from your client, then supplying them with a reverse brief, quote and a timeline with milestones will give your client the structure and game plan for each project. This is a great way to "educate" your client without looking like you are trying to educate them. 


Exercise patience 

We want our clients to be infallible, but they are not. There will be times when they will let you down, as there will be times when you will let them down - guaranteed. A little patience and understanding will go a long way. 

A client's lack of expertise will sometimes cause you trouble, but you can do your darndest to prevent this from impacting your work. Is the extra effort worth it? Oh yes - just ask any account manager that has ever reached revision #10 or above! 



Sarah Ritchie
Sarah Ritchie


Sarah Ritchie is the founder of AM-Insider - a website bursting with tips, tricks and resources to create account management superstars in the advertising, design, PR, experiential and print industries. Sarah has been involved in account management for 25 years and has a passion for encouraging, mentoring and helping others succeed.

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