Anyone who has spent time agency side will know a successful account manager is a unique breed of individual who wears a multitude of hats, quite often at the same time.
These hats include, project manager, salesperson, accountant, copywriter, administrator, photographer, party animal, creative designer and a little bit of counsellor thrown in.
All of which made me wonder if marketers really know what to look for when engaging with a new agency and, what they should be looking out for when faced with a new account manager.
So here are my five essential clues which should tell you if your account manager comes up to scratch:
- Your account manager should be your trusted ‘go to’
Knowing you can hand your brief to an account manager and they will provide honest and sound feedback really is an absolute basic and tells you they are your trusted ‘go to’.
Trusting your account manager means you don’t need to worry about what the agency is doing, your account manager has it covered.
If you have an account manager who takes your brief unquestioned, this may be a sign they lack confidence and knowledge; the result could be they ‘play safe’ and regurgitate the same activities used on previous campaigns.
If you find yourself in this situation, share your concerns with your agency. They should work with you to ensure you get the right account manager for your needs.
- Your account manager should have it covered
Regular email/telephone contact, Gantt charts, work in progress spread sheets, minutes and actions – whatever method you choose this activity is vitally important. Any self-respecting account manager would provide a combination of these. If you don’t have this, talk to your account manager and ask them how they manage your projects and make sure they use a method you are comfortable with. If you like a simple weekly telephone call, rather than daily emails, tell them!
- Your account manager should have a grasp of marketing
An interesting and well debated issue. Should account managers be marketers? Common sense tells you if your account manager has spent time client side, they are likely to have more understanding of the processes, particularly the internal stakeholder issues marketers face.
- Your account manager should understand your industry
Similar to point 3, if your account manager understands your industry, products and services you’re one step ahead. They can quickly grasp the requirements and are likely to know from experience what works well and what doesn’t.
A big plus this one! Particularly if your industry is B2B technology e.g. engineering, automation, electronics such as ours at Peter Bush Communications!
- Your account manager should pay attention to the little things
We are in a people business. We collaborate on projects, work together, travel together, attend lengthy meetings and workshops. We are often shoulder to shoulder in pressure situations, deadlines, presentations etc. It is therefore even more important that the chemistry between client and agency is right. If this isn’t working, it can have a massive impact on outcomes.
A good account manager will always get to know their client, not just understanding how they like to work or communicate, but also birthdays, interests, hobbies. These all provide valuable insight.
In summary, your multiple hat wearing account manager will be professional, effective, knowledgeable, trustworthy and remember your birthday………the little things.
I once found myself working for quite a difficult client.
He was attending an outdoor exhibition which meant spending three days standing in the middle of a field. The weather forecast was terrible. I sourced a large golf umbrella and sent it to him with a note to make sure he took waterproofs.
With hindsight, he knew what the weather was going to do, but still, this was a game changer with our client/agency relationship.
Of course, the umbrella won’t work for everyone, but it demonstrates that sometimes, it’s the little things that help you be successful with the bigger ones!