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A Day in the Life: Chris Thompson, former account director, Traction

8:00 a.m.: I meet with the agency owner and director of account service for coffee next door to the office. I’m here to keep them informed about my successes and challenges, future forecasts for billing and revenue, as well as staffing and personnel needs.

9:00 a.m.: Once in the office, I check e-mail, read any news regarding my client’s business (thanks, Google, you keep me informed), and review the weekly status report before sending it out to my banking client and the internal team.

10:00 a.m.: Client status call. I have my key leads with me in the room and my various clients on the conference call. On my end, there is the director of strategy, project manager, senior media planner, and development lead. On the client side is the director of marketing, two senior marketing managers, and a marketing coordinator. I talk a lot all day so I try to let the leads communicate what needs to be communicated and get clear a understanding of what we hope to accomplish this week and what deliverables are needed on both sides of the call.

11:00 a.m.: We have focus groups tonight for my professional services client. We traveled to Chicago and New York last week to “test” two creative concepts developed off of our newly developed strategy, to see which concept best communicated the strategy and resonated with the target. Today, my strategy director and our moderator meet to review notes from last week and determine if we need to make any adjustments. We decide to adjust the order of questions and eliminate one execution of a concept that seems to be derailing our focus group discussion down an unhelpful path.

11:30 a.m.: I rush down the hall to our account management status meeting. This weekly meeting is designed for the account management staff to learn from each other, share best practices, and alert each other to potential staffing constrictions that could slow down projects.

12:00 p.m.: I have a creative concept presentation tomorrow with my banking client, so I begin drafting the up-front of the presentation (also called a deck). I ask the account manager who’s headed out to lunch if she can bring me back a burrito. The up-front of this deck is pretty standard. It’s essentially a recap of the flow of the meeting, the strategy we agreed upon previously, what we’ll expect from the client during the meeting and our next steps.

1:00 p.m.: With burrito in hand, I walk to Theo’s office to let him know the deck is on the server and ask when we might see the final tweaks to creative. Thankfully, he has them up on his computer and we call Jabeen (strategy director) and Melanie (project manager) in so we can review together on screen. Once approved by us, Melanie will print and send through the team for proofing purposes before Theo drops them into the deck.

1:30 p.m.: As happens often, our quick meeting gets extended because we all work together on a new client, a technology company. We’ve only just begun to dig into the research necessary to develop a brand strategy that will differentiate them from the competition. Jabeen has been leading the research, with her assistant’s help, and takes 30 minutes to update Theo and me on their progress and float a couple of ideas about what the company’s “one thing” might be.

2:00 p.m.: Melanie and I meet with the tech lead to review the site maintenance requests from our banking client. Web site maintenance is new to this agency so we’re paying special attention to the details and managing hours.

3:00 p.m.: Cookies! Someone brought in cookies to the office, so there is an impromptu agency meeting in the kitchen. This prompts my tech lead to share his concerns on our site maintenance project.

4:00 p.m.: Final review of the creative presentation for tomorrow. Jabeen, Theo, and I walk through the presentation together and make sure to highlight key points.

5:00 p.m.: I meet quickly with Jabeen to review the materials for the focus groups tonight and ensure that all of our changes have been made. I then get into a new business conversation with the owner and agree to pitch in where I can on a pitch for a potential CPG [consumer packaged goods] new business request for proposal (RFP).

5:20 p.m.: Jabeen and I grab a cab to head to the focus group facility. We want to be there first to make sure everything is in order.

6:00 p.m.: Our clients have arrived as well as our first of three groups tonight. Dinner is being ordered while we take notes and comment on who will be the aggressive male and church-mouse female in the first group. This happens in almost every focus group.

8:00 p.m.: Our groups are over and were quite a success in that we gained the insight we needed to move forward. We discuss that night’s groups and agree upon the overarching learning we’ve gained. A formal report will follow.

8:30 p.m.: The clients and my team walk to a local bar for some celebratory cocktails. Thankfully, my client had a long flight so we only have one drink and I am home by 10:00 p.m. That’s good news because I have to get up early to pick up Jabeen and Theo tomorrow morning for our drive to my banking client and our creative concept presentation.

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