It has been said that all good account handlers have 2 ears & one mouth.
And that all great account handlers use them in this proportion.
The great Dave Trott makes a great observation around this point in his recent post for Campaign. It’s reproduced (in part) below:
I’m not a big fan of the TV series Mad Men. But my wife likes it a lot, so I end up watching it. Last week there was a sequence in it that I thought was actually very perceptive.
An account man is sitting at a dinner table next to a French philosopher.
The philosopher is cynical about advertising. He says haughtily “So, what is your job?”
The account man says “I’m an account man.” The philosopher says sneeringly “And what exactly do you do?
” The account man says “Well what do you do? ” The philosopher says proudly “I am a philosopher.
” The account man says “I hear you’re more than that, I hear you’re very eminent in your field.
” The philosopher raises his eyebrows, surprised that the account man has heard of him.
He says modestly “Well, perhaps you could say I am, yes.” The account man says “In fact I hear you’re more than a philosopher.
I hear you’re a fine teacher, too.” Blushing now, the philosopher says “Well, my goodness, perhaps that is also true.
Yes, indeed.” The account man says “In fact, I hear that we’d all be a lot better off if we took a lot more notice of your views on many things.”
The philosopher is now thrilled and embarrassed. He says “Oh, my dear sir, you really are too kind, thank you.” And he shakes the account man’s hand warmly.
And the account man says “That’s what I do.”
Brilliant. The account man turned the philosopher’s view from cynicism to trust in just a few sentences. By talking about the philosopher instead of talking about himself. By finding out about the target audience. Instead of just talking about himself and what he wanted. Which of course is the lesson for all of us. It’s no good just telling someone what we want. They already know that.