What do Account Managers actually do?

I got a lot of feedback from my emails last week about the value of account managers, and it’s clear that there’s quite a bit of confusion about what the job of an agency Account Manager is!

With a big caveat that there are a LOT of different AM job descriptions out there, here’s what I think should be included:

1. The AM represents the client within the agency.

Account Managers represent the client when they aren’t in the room. So they write the brief and give feedback to the creative/developers/analysts to keep them on track.

Account Managers ensure that the client’s money is being spent wisely!

2. The AM represents the agency with the client!

The Account Manager watches out for the Agency’s best interests by re-enrolling the client in the strategy so that they stay grounded and give the team time to work their magic!

The Account Manager also keeps an eye out for scope creep and flags the need for a change order when needed. In many firms, they are responsible for the profitability of the projects they lead.

Finally, the Account Manager should be focused on additional opportunities to extend or expand the agency’s work for the client when new needs arise.

3. Some project management

The Account Manager is often responsible for keeping the client’s deliverables on track. Does the team have what they need from the client? Is the client giving timely feedback? That is work the Account Manager should do.

In the best of worlds, there’s a Project Manager or Traffic Manager who’s doing the heavy lifting to keep all the projects moving. That person allocates resources and resolves conflicts between client needs, and they do not report to the Account Team!

What about business development? Who does marketing?

In smaller agencies, there’s no natural home for the marketing and business development work necessary to keep the agency growing. There isn’t a full-time marketing and business development person on staff.

When those tasks get to be more than what the agency founder can do on their own, they often conscript one of the Account Managers into helping out.

That can work, but primarily as a stop-gap measure until that role can grow to a full-time position. Your Account Manager is likely playing “out of position” in either of those areas, and you won’t be getting the best from them.

What other questions do you have about the role of the Account Manager? Hit reply and let me know. I read every response and answer as many as possible!

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