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Senior Account Manager for Iris Worldwide, Lisa Ward has +9 years experience helping clients achieve their advertising needs and objectives.

How does your job fit into the marketing process? My primary role is liaising with the agency’s clients and understanding what they need and how best we can help them achieve their goals. The other, but equally important part of my role, is learning how best to interpret the client’s needs and then briefing the creatives and developers in an inspiring way so that they can meet those needs in the most creative way possible.

What’s an advertising campaign you’ve worked on?


How do you ‘understand what the client needs’? Asking the right kinds questions is key. Don’t be afraid to be inquisitive, listen carefully to what they want to fully understand the reason behind it. Another important factor is to understand the client’s target audience. The absolute worst thing you can do is assume you have it all figured out and then bring them a solution they didn’t ask for – not only will you have wasted their time and money, but also your agency’s. You have to thoroughly make sure you and your client are on the same page from the outset so that what you produce is what they want.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Dominic Dangerfield, Co-Director of Speechmark adds: “What the client says they want, and what the client actually wants isn’t always the same thing. People don’t always know what they want. What they think is the problem may not be the problem at all, but the symptom of another problem.”]

What the client wants is important and their goals must be relayed in a way the client’s customers will accept.

What’s a misconception clients commonly have? Although we live in an predominately digital world, I’ve found (particularly in the U.S) that TV and print – more than digital as advertising mediums – take greater importance in terms of time and cost of advertising creation.

For example, a TV ad campaign and an online digital ad campaign could equally require 10 weeks and half a million dollars to create. For many people this cost for a TV campaign it sounds justified, but others have a more difficult time believing that a digital campaign can be as expensive as the TV campaign simply because digital is perceived as immediate and therefore changes can be made simple, quickly and without consequences, but this is not true.

For a digital campaign to run smoothly you need all the right resources including strategists, site architects, web designers and good coders. Nowadays anyone can create lovely WordPress templates for blogs, but if you want a stunningly beautiful website that is correctly SEO’ed, draws visiters in and converts them, that won’t break or get hacked, then it’s going to take a professional to code it.

Secondly, because the digital world is so fluid – a constantly shifting landscape – it’s easy to be misconstrued as being instant and even disposable. It’s far easier to take down a website than to pull a major outdoor campaign which is already live.

In many cases digital media doesn’t, therefore, command the same considerations. Along with this, there is a belief that digital projects can be turned around very quickly and often on a very little budget. Having to tell a developer – who’s maybe 90% of the way through a complex site or app build – that we’re changing something quite fundamental in the project is an inevitable reality in such a constantly shifting landscape. This is why it is imperative to take the time to thoroughly ‘understand the client’s needs’ at the beginning of any project.

Finally, the days of digital being a complete afterthought – a bookend to major campaigns – are over, no doubt. If you incorporate a digital component into a TV or print campaign late in the project, it will show. For a solid 360 approach, digital needs to be a part of the plan from the outset and accompany print and TV ads.  This is something brand’s are more and more incorporating into their branding strategy.

What’s an important lesson you’ve learned? Likeability, and especially manners go a long way!  In any project where people must work together and be push in different ways, there will inevitably be personality clashes and differences of opinion, making it difficult to give and receive the criticism necessary to improve a project. Always consider how people work and tailor the way you approach them to minimize conflict and get the best out of everybody.

It’s important to be professional, to do the best work you can and to be proud of what you create, but I think it’s equally important to remember your place in the grand scheme of things. Bringing a bad ego or attitude into the workplace doesn’t do anybody any favors.

Secondly, coordination and organization are key in getting all the pieces of the jigsaw in place to achieve great results – if you don’t have that, then projects can easily spiral out of control.

A website you often go to for ideas/inspiration? Here are three of my favorites:

Advice for someone who wants to do your job: A lot of what is important about my role can be learned on the job, but coming to the industry with strong organizational skills, attention to detail and good communication skills are all extremely helpful.

Presentation skills come with time, patience is a virtue and the ability to listen to and relay people’s concerns on both sides of a project – agency and client – is something you also need to bring to the party but that also becomes easier with experience.

What’s one of your favorite advertising campaigns? Here are three:

I have a small advertising budget, any advice? There’s an old saying within the industry that a good idea doesn’t require a budget. I’ve found that to be true to an extent.

  • Focus on the planning stages – getting your target and your message correct before moving forward is vital.
  • Costs accrue on projects when you change things at the last minute after production is underway.
  • While people always make mistakes, planning can save a lot of headaches and maximize your budget.

Any tips for coming up with those ‘good ideas’? The best ideas tend to be the simplest. Overly-complicated message usually get diluted, and tend to do the opposite of what you wanted.

Being British, have you noticed a difference between British and US advertising? I’ve noticed that in Europe and the UK brands can afford to be more risky and are able to get away with more tongue-in-cheek ads; ads that are thought provoking or just plain witty. This is different in the US mainly because of it’s size. Writing an ad that works across the entire US is like trying to write an ad that works just as well in London, Greece and parts of Russia. The most unfeasibly unsuccessful ads in the UK will only be seen by a maximum of 60 million people – which doesn’t even cover the East Coast of the USA. This gives UK advertising more of a local market feel. West Coast, East Coast, Southern and Mid-West mindsets are so different that national ads here have to be created with this taken into account and the advertising tends to be much broader and very inoffensive in order to reflect this.

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