5 Habits of Highly Effective Account Managers
Account management is one of those ad agency services that just … is. Creatives get the awards, strategists shine, and developers and data geeks became instant heroes. Heck, even media became cool. But what about account managers?
For a long time, account managers could be yes-men, bag carriers or order takers and they would get by. But the new marketing ecosystem requires a fresh approach to client services. Enter the modern account manager — problem solver, strategist and relationship builder.
Our job is to rethink what works for our clients, their brands and their budgets. Our responsibilities are strategic and tactical. We need to know more about more. We’re expected to understand all disciplines, how to integrate them and how to effectively manage a client’s budget.
So, what makes a good modern account manager? Here are 5 habits of highly effective account managers:
1. Always be learning. The agency-client relationship is changing. Agencies are no longer just vendors, we’re partners. Clients expect us to know their business. To stand out, account people need a deeper understanding of what works and what doesn't work for their clients’ businesses. You need to know the market, grasp the target consumer’s needs and interests and understand your client’s expectations.
2. Embrace problem-solving. Naturally, clients expect more from their agencies and from the account people working on their business. Building relationships with clients entails open and honest communication. It’s important to be proactive. Being proactive means learning about your client’s business and being confident enough to making valuable suggestions on how to optimize campaigns or what steps need to be taken to improve results. This means never saying “let me get back to you” but instead anticipating client needs and questions and being prepared with solutions.
3. Collaborate. The best ideas and campaigns aren’t developed in a vacuum. Working well with others is a critical habit that an effective account person needs to master. This is as much about listening to and incorporating the ideas of others as it is about being able to defend your own ideas. As an account person, your job isn’t to sell — it’s to facilitate the creation of great work and help clients make the right decisions about it. This can mean facilitating collaboration among agency disciplines, or it can mean working with the client and even with other agencies.
4. Communicate effectively. You don’t need 10-page conference reports. And sometimes you should walk over to a colleague’s desk or pick up the phone instead of sending an email. But no matter what, account people must be good communicators. Communicate the assignment and deliverables to the creative team. Manage expectations and get buy-in from clients on creative and timelines. If you don’t, the work suffers. If the work suffers, the business is at risk. Be concise, but be clear.
5. Improve the work. As an account person, your job isn’t to create the work or even to approve it. It’s to improve it. This means giving insightful, candid assessments of the work to your agency colleagues. It also means following up with clients and listening to their feedback. And finally, it means paying attention to details when everyone else is busy — don’t overlook the simplest things, like checking to make sure the phone number on a direct mail piece or print ad goes to the right place.
There are so many more habits of highly effective account people, but you get the idea. Account management is integral to advertising success. Clients value it, agencies need it and colleagues depend on it.