From implementer to leader - the art of account management

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From implementer to leader - the art of account management

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Bryce CoombeBy Bryce Coombe, client partner, CHE Proximity.

There’s a big difference between being an implementer of advertising strategies to someone who leads the marketing communications process. A whole step change is required in terms of not just skills and experience, but all over mindset and attitude.

The biggest shift in mindset between being a mere implementer to someone who leads the communications process is an understanding of the scale of impact your decisions and input have.  As an implementer, your role is to ensure the smooth process and a great outcome, but it’s a process started by someone else.

 As a leader in your business, you can create opportunities and can start something from nothing.  You can be the person that identifies the opportunity first and makes something of it. You can be the partner that both the agency and the client rely on to identify a problem before it becomes one or an opportunity before your competitors.

 Having the drive to constantly improve - and ask ‘why?’

There aren’t just select milestones within a project where an account manager really needs to be at their most influential. You need to be at your most influential across every single stage in the client relationship. From before you’ve won the client - sourcing intel, informing and inspiring the agency - through to campaign implementation and reviewing results. Such a wide range of skills requires constant education and exposure to the best thinking, the best campaigns and the most interesting challenges.

It also requires a drive to constantly improve and learn new skills and new thought processes. In my experience, age, stature or success don’t impede a burning desire to constantly ask, ‘why?’.

When looking for new account managers, we look for people who are:

1. Creative business people.

2. Team players.

3. Problem solvers.

4. People who love a challenge

5. Always asking ‘why?’.

‘Asking why?’ is probably the single most important attribute. We want people to look at the world they live in and constantly ask, why? Why are the accepted norms accepted? Why can’t things be better? Why do things work the way they do?

How good account managers drive agency success

A curious, dynamic account manager, is a crucial driver of agency success in an era where new media comes and goes, budgets get tighter, categories die, disrupters disrupt and we are pressured to deliver more with less. The challenge for account executives and account managers in this environment is to deliver market leading thinking, problem solving and, most importantly, results in a tight timeframe. To do this, you need to be educated with an arsenal of processes, insights and references that you can quickly call upon to solve a client’s problem.

The only consistency that both clients and agencies have are the challenges we encounter. Challenges with budgets, audiences, stakeholders, messages, research, the list goes on.  And the only way to overcome these challenges is to accept that they are a daily occurrence and for individuals to have a constant curiosity in trying to figure them out.

With the average tenure of a CMO being just 3.5 years now, the window of opportunity for any agency or marketer to impact a business is limited and requires identification, insight and implementation, delivered at speed. The greatest joy for any marketer is to find a meaty problem that no-one else has encountered and try to solve the riddle. The best way to do this is with constant improvement to your skill sets, filling knowledge gaps and being exposed to the best thinkers and the biggest problems. 

The complete customer experience will fuel the agency of the future

As the expectation of agencies to deliver class leading innovation across multiple categories, channels and audiences continues to multiply, the agency of the future will own the complete customer experience – every touch point a customer has with a brand.  Account managers need to be ingrained and aware of every consumer touch point and be able to deliver a creative innovation strategy that improves outcomes for both the client and the customer.

And that’s what makes the job exciting – we can impact and improve our clients’ businesses across a wider spectrum beyond marketing.

Bryce Coombe will be presenting AdSchool's ‘The Art of Account Management’ course in Melbourne from April 19 to June 21. Book your place here.