It’s impossible to meet expectations if you don’t know what they are.
So how are Account Managers supposed to succeed in advertising without understanding what’s expected of you?
You may think you know. But without much training, you’re probably guessing.
This article is the first in a three-part series that lays out the expectations for Account Managers.
Here in part one we start with the expectations clients have.
Next week in part two, we’ll cover the expectations of the team … and we’ll finish the series the following week with the expectations of the agency owner.
So you’ll know how to meet and exceed everyone’s expectations.
What Clients Expect
1. Know and Understand Your Client’s Business
Your client does not expect you to know as much about his business as he does. But he does expect you to learn about his business. So pay close attention.
Soak in all the information he shares. Read the trade journals so you know what’s going on.
Track what the competition is doing.
The more you know about your client’s business the better prepared you’ll be to help him succeed. And your client will see you’re more invested in his success.
2. Know and Understand the Advertising Business
You should also be a student of the advertising industry.
Advertising is forward thinking. It’s always changing. There’s always something new to try.
Stay current on the latest trends and tech. Be on the lookout for anything that might help achieve your client’s goals.
But also, become a student of how your agency team members do their jobs. What goes into it … along every step of the way.
The more you understand how all the jobs are done, the better you will be at your job. And at helping the client throughout the process.
3. Be a Good Listener
Unless he’s brand new to his company, your client probably knows more about his business than you do.
Take advantage of that knowledge. Listen to his input. Take it all in and let it shape your thinking.
You may find that your client’s input sparks the idea that makes the plan that much more effective.
4. Thorough and Timely Communications
With the fast-paced nature of the business, it’s important that you communicate quickly and thoroughly with your client … and with others.
Whether it’s an internal conversation, or a client call, always take copious notes. Do not rely on your memory because details are forgotten.
And you’re likely to get interrupted before you can pass along the information. But once the interruption has passed, you’ll be better prepared to transmit the information quickly and accurately.
5. Be a Proactive Partner
Your client expects you as his agency Account Manager to always be looking ahead and looking out for his best interest.
It’s not about taking the client’s orders. It’s not about passing along whatever the creative team says.
The job is to do and say what you believe is in the best interest of the client and the success of his business.
This may mean you try to redirect the client on a request he’s made. Or perhaps you push back on the creative team a little. But always be willing to speak up on behalf of your client’s success.
6. Stay Focused on Goals
There are so many details involved in advertising, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s important.
Your client is obsessing over the size of the hero image in the ad. Or the color of the call to action button on the landing page.
Those things may be important … if they have a direct impact on the bottom line of the business.
Be sure you understand the objectives you’re trying to meet. Place your focus and base your decisions on those objectives.
7. Be Trustworthy and Honest
Hopefully this one doesn’t come as a surprise, but clients do expect honesty and integrity from their Account Manager.
It’s easy to do … until someone makes a mistake. Then it’s tempting to tell a little fib or put the blame on someone else.
But especially in those times, approach the situation with honesty.
Clients will forgive a mistake in the short term and you’ll earn their respect in the long run.
8. Be Deadline Oriented
Just about everything we do in advertising is driven by a deadline. Clients rely on their Account Manager to make sure all those deadlines are met.
Be vigilant about production schedules. Make sure all tasks have committed dates.
Communicate with the client to make sure he meets his dates.
Don’t sit back hoping other people meet their deadline. Be proactive to ensure dates will be met.
9. Remain Cool Under Pressure
With all the deadlines, advertising is stressful at times. Okay, lots of times.
Clients need an agency partner who remains calm. Who thinks clearly under pressure. Who switches into problem-solving mode rather than freak-out mode.
It’s like the quarterback who’s under pressure … who steps up in the pocket and delivers the first down strike. Be that quarterback … and not the one who tucks the ball at the first sign of pressure and gets sacked.
10. Be Accepting of Criticism
Whether it’s about creative or the media plan or something else, clients don’t always agree with the agency. But clients always want to feel comfortable voicing their disagreement.
As his Account Manager you should create a trusting environment where your client can express his opinion and know that he will be heard and respected.
Ideally, he will be willing to debate the pros and cons with you, but at the least, he should be able to give you bad news. And then you can discuss next steps and solutions together.
Exceed Your Client’s Expectations
These are not all the expectations your client has of you, but it’s a good start. The more you get to know him and build your relationship, the better prepared you’ll be to exceed his expectations.
Next week we’ll look at Part 2: The Top 10 Expectations the Team Has of Account Managers.
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