Ah, the client/account manager relationship. In our over seven years of working with clients, we’ve seen, heard, and tried it all with business owners from a range of industries, experiencing high highs and low lows along the way as both parties waded murky waters. It’s pretty day-one knowledge that without our clients, we don’t have a reason to be here each day, so we’ve worked hard to find the right balances and strategies to make working with our clients the best experience we can while delivering the highest quality results. The client/account manager relationship can sometimes be a strained one, but we’ve learned enough to know how to navigate when issues arise and get to the heart of what our clients are really needing from us.
For them, a lot is on the line. They’re running a business, likely wearing multiple hats while trying to please their own clients, and they’re coming to us to help increase their profits and help this thing they’re working hard at excel the way they dreamed. For us, we’re trying to help them do just that the best way we know how, seeking to find creative solutions that allow us to provide for them better, faster, smarter through the adrenaline rush of putting out fires.
So, we came up with a few tips to help guide clients and anyone considering working with an agency collaborate more effectively with account managers in the name of creating the best possible product.
1. Define your objectives upfront.
Why did you choose to work with an agency? Were you interested in getting more leads, improving the look of your website, ranking higher and getting found, showcasing your products, or something different entirely? Being forthcoming with your goals from the beginning will help your account manager(s) create a meaningful strategy around your needs. It’s also essential to let them know if your objectives change, and you need to clearly define what success for each goal looks like. If you’re unsure about what your objectives are, your account manager can help you identify and set goals as well.
2. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
This is non-negotiable. Your project isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it situation. It’s about co-creation. Think of your account manager like your business partner. If you wouldn’t go radio silent on your accountant, distributors, lawyers, etc., it’s not a good idea to do with your agency either. Your account manager likely runs in to time-sensitive issues he or she needs to run by you, or they need to get in touch with you to keep your project moving along as scheduled. Making yourself available to communicate as much as possible can make all the difference in whether the relationship is smooth or difficult.
3. Remember your account manager works with your industry, not in it.
Account managers do everything they can to understand how your business functions and what your customers want from it. However, even if they’ve worked with you for a while, it’s likely they don’t understand every aspect of your industry inside and out. Yes, it’s their job to immerse themselves in what you do and look for opportunities to elevate your company, but they can only do that with what they have to go off. There’s a lot they don’t know simply because they haven’t been on the inside, so try to give them as much information as possible. If you have an idea for content, a keyword, a tactic, let them know. It may be something that wasn’t on their radar.
4. Also remember that you’re working with them for a reason.
Your account manager should be an expert in carrying out the goals of your project. It’s likely they’ve seen any challenges you experience before, overcome glitches, studied best practices, and brainstormed with the whole agency team in order to be the most capable partner for you. That’s why you’ve got to trust them to do what they do. Yes, your business is your baby, so it’s normal to want to cling to each detail of your project tightly. But, there’s a reason you decided to bring an agency professional on board. Unless you’re seriously seeing red flags, let them carry out their strategy and lead you to success.
5. Help keep the project organized.
A project, an agency, a business all have many fast-moving parts, and it’s easy for things to become a little too chaotic for comfort quickly. It really takes both sides working together efficiently to keep the train on the tracks. That means it’s important for clients to help set the project up for success from the start. Choose who will be best suited to be the point of contact/ring leader of the project. That person or group should stay involved at each step from beginning to end. Keep up to date with what’s going on with your project, provide assets in a timely manner, communicate as soon as it’s needed, and plan ahead. Your project will be all the better for it.
The most important thing to remember when working with an account manager is that this person is your ally, and he or she has the same goal you do: to get your project to the finish line and make sure your goals are met in the best way possible. When that’s the focus of the relationship, you can bet your project will turn out better than you imagined.