What’s the big deal with the octopus?

On Wednesday night, a tight bunch of industry types gathered together at Thievery to celebrate the launch of a book. That’s right, a book. If you’ve never met one of those, it’s a bit like an app, but you swipe in a more linear fashion and it doesn’t fit in your phone.

How to Wrestle an Octopus is the first book from Sarah Ritchie who’s something of an account service junkie. In between glasses of wine and exceptional one-bite munchies, she shared her journey of landing an account management role and discovering that no one really has the time to tell you how to do it. So she wrote a book about it.

It’s a good book. I’d almost go as far as to say it’s the book. I can’t quite go that far because I haven’t actually read all of it. But I’ve flicked through several times and whatever page you land on is full of straight-up, sage advice on how to be a brilliant suit.

Just to clarify, I’m not being paid to promote Sarah’s book. I didn’t even get a free copy to review. I’m just a customer (I bought two copies on pre-sale) and I’m something of a fan. Thing is, agency account management is one of the hardest jobs in the world. Whichever way you look, you’re the meat in the sandwich. Clients want this, creative deliver that and someone running the numbers is keen to land those as well. You could say, it’s a little like trying to wrestle an octopus.

More importantly, there aren’t many rules. Until now. How to Wrestle an Octopus is a well researched, multi-interviewed bible for anyone learning account management. What’s a brief? Covered. How to build relationships? Covered. How to get hired? How to get fired? All of these things are covered with wisdom and survival tips in How to Wrestle an Octopus.

Why am I interested? As a creative person who accidentally ended up running an agency, I’ve always been fascinated by the voodoo magic of brilliant suits. Our first suit pretty much doubled revenue from day one. And time was spent on Wednesday talking about the superhero power of suiting. But who teaches the suits to suit? Apparently no one. Until now.

When she described the market for How to wrestle an Octopus, Sarah talked about account managers who want to take responsibility for their own training and agencies who want a bible to help them train great suits. So if you’re either of those, I’d highly recommend a copy of Sarah’s book.

If you’re looking for a chilled-out read on a weekend away at the beach, I’m pretty sure there’s a different book. But if you’ve always wondered about the ‘voodoo magic’ you need to capture off-the-wall thinking and package it up commercially to generate business results and get everyone paid…. buy the book.

That’s what I reckon, what do you think?

  • Michael Goldthorpe is managing partner at Hunch.

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