At a recent IAS master class for our agency subscribers, Gillian Rightford, well known lecturer and advisor in the advertising profession, commented on the five challenges – and subsequent opportunities – that she sees for account management and their agencies.
Challenge 1 – Collaboration and integration
With integration and collaboration being top of the marketer’s agenda, the challenge for those marketers is the management of all of the agencies on their roster – it takes time and money. For the agencies – who love the idea of collaboration but hate the idea of sharing budget – account management becomes critical and can be a major success driver within the client’s eco-system of agencies. Clients often still work in quite separate ‘departments’ or silos and this can add to the headache of managing several agencies.
Opportunity: Account management can suggest and create strategic partnerships with the other roster agencies in order to assist the client and minimise time and costs.
Challenge 2 – Advertising expertise
The role of the account manager, if played well, is the role that pulls all of the different agency experts together in order to help the client. Often the client does not understand a lot of the terminology that is so familiar to agencies – but does not necessarily tell the agency this. A strong account manager will ensure that the client understands the role of strategy, creative, media etc and will take the time to explain as well as manage the advertising process. The account manager is also instrumental in explaining costs, cost structures – especially around creative.
Opportunity: Show how the agency works, who does what and most important of all, how the work is evaluated even before it is presented to the client. Share best practice, and talk about campaign success measurements.
Challenge 3 – Innovation
Clients are constantly looking for solutions and are open to innovation – although not always able to act on that innovation. They also need to be shown how to bring their product or service message to life within their organisations.
Opportunity: Be proactive around sales issues for clients, partner with them in ensuring that they reach their own objectives and understand what those are.
Challenge 4 – The ‘marketing’ of marketing
Marketing is often not taken as seriously as it could be by organisations. How marketers are perceived within their own companies often has a direct impact on the relationship and success of the agency partners. 73% of CEOs think that marketers lack business credibility while on the other hand 63% of marketers think that they are making a real difference to the business, but cannot quantify or prove this.
Opportunity: Understand the challenges that a marketer faces, work with them to elevate the importance of marketing through finding direct ways to measure the success of their campaigns.
Challenge 5 – Rules of engagement
Account management can play a leading role in understanding how to enable the marketer and the agency to work together effectively. Strong account management can be instrumental in removing the lack of trust in a client/agency relationship to the betterment of the work and the outputs.
Opportunity: Negotiate the rules up front, have the conversation. Clients want their agencies to do the things they do best.
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