The Fine Line for Account Executives…

Guest Author Laura Lauricella is an Interdepartmental Manager at DKI | Healthcare Relationship Marketing.

When it comes to the ad biz, no matter the vertical space in which you work, finding the right balance between giving the client what they want and what they truly need is always a challenge. In other words, trying to avoid being just a “yes man” is often a difficult task for an Account Executive to overcome.

The Client is Always…

The concept of the ‘Client is always right’ is not always the best way to go. In fact, it may just be the best recipe for disaster. Clients are driven by a variety of motivations - pleasing upper management, managing tight budgets and producing quality work. An AE’s job is to consider all of these aspects, while at the same time function as the representative of “the agency,” which means offering the agency's best point of view and expertise.  After all, there is a reason why a client has hired your ad agency.

Avoiding the “yes man” syndrome is especially difficult in the pharma world, as the AE must be an expert in a number of specialties outside the typical advertising universe. In addition to knowing their brand inside out, the AE needs to consider the stringent DDMAC guidelines.  Claims need to be "on label," references must be reputable and submissions flawless. The AE must also effectively navigate the Medical and Regulatory teams, knowing when to say “yes” and knowing when to politely push back.

Striking the perfect balance makes the AE’s job one of the toughest in the ad biz as they are on the front lines everyday making critical decisions.  To resist being just a “yes man” apply the following tips, which will help ensure that you build and maintain a solid relationship with your client while delivering excellent client service.


  • Know your client's brand as well, if not better, than they do
  • Be realistic about budgets
  • Keep the work on strategy 
  • Be deadline driven 
  • Don’t hear, listen
  • Don’t be afraid to deliver honest answers and feedback: People who are yes men fear the client

At the end of the day, ultimately, a great AE in pharma, or any category, recognizes that in order to be successful, they must meet their Client’s brand objectives, drive revenue and deliver a flawless product. A great AE also knows that although they are considered an extension of their Client, the success of their Agency often lies in the palm of their hands…and what they choose to do with that power is what sets them apart from the rest.

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