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Posted on: 28.04.2020

Account Management: Holding Back The Chaos


It always starts with one question…What is account management?

Then it’s usually followed by another….Why should I pay for this?

As an account manager, that’s basically asking us why we have a job! So, let me shed some light on exactly what account management is and why it’s needed.

Picture this. You’ve got a big project and that project has a deadline. That deadline can’t move and there’s a strict budget attached to everything too. You need someone who can take all of these things and make them happen.

That’s our superpower. You need an account manager. Just like a designer or a copywriter or a developer, we’ve got our part to play!

And believe me… you’d miss us if we weren’t there.

Our role is to look at the bigger picture. To approach your brief from all angles and make sure everything is delivered exactly as you need it, and when you need it. With so many elements to consider across a variety of different accounts, I’d go as far to say we’re annoyingly organised (which can only be a good thing!). We’re the vital link between your brief and the end product. Without us, there would be a missing cog in the wheel. Our copywriters work on your content, our designers work on the delivery of that content, and we as account managers keep their fragile egos in line… Sorry, I mean oversee the whole thing.

Could a movie be made without a producer? Could a building be built without a contractor? Probably not, and it’s the same for any project. So what would happen if we didn’t exist?

The brief…no questions asked.
Timings…unknown.
The deadline…what deadline?
The deliverables…here are 30 options to choose from.
The budget…we spent triple the time, so it’s triple the price. OK?

Having an account manager cuts out the hard part. We do the planning so you don’t have to. Yes it comes with a cost, but is it worth it for the smooth delivery of your project on time and within budget? Absolutely. To be honest, it’s worth it to stop you killing our designers, or our copywriters setting your office on fire.

So what do we actually do?

Well there’s project planning and projections. There’s also brief writing and reviewing. We liaise directly with clients near and far. Oh and lots and lots of Google sheets! All the colours. All the tabs. We might even throw in a gantt chart, if you’re lucky.

No project is typical – that’s kinda why you need us – but let’s run through a typical-ish example to show how your account manager inserts themselves at every crucial point to make sure your dream makes it from conception to delivery. Keeping our eyes very firmly on the prize at every stage.

So here’s how it works…

You have an amazing idea for a campaign. Or maybe it’s not that amazing. We can work with that too. You don’t know how to execute it, though, because it’s just scribbles on the back of an envelope.

You type them up, and you send them to me. Your friendly account manager. And that’s when the magic happens.

I ask you all sorts of questions – the key ones being ‘What’s your budget?’ and ‘Do you have a deadline?’. Then I turn that idea, and the answers to those questions, into a (capital P) Plan, with all the resources we need to make it a reality.

Next up, I gather a team of talented people. People with specialist skills, experience, or just cool ideas that might add something. I manage their diaries, get them fired up, and create a detailed brief to inform their thinking and approach. They might want to take the project in a totally different direction. Believe me, they often do. But it’s my job to take the best of that, and combine it with your vision. You don’t want to have to deal with a headstrong copywriter, or a designer who doesn’t like your brand colours. But I’ll win them round, and I’ll come back to you with their challenges if I think it will benefit the brief.

Then I step away and let them do their stuff. But don’t think that means I’m banking the hours drinking tea and staring out the window. I’m constantly reviewing their work, making sure it’s on brief and on time. And I’m reviewing the hours they’re putting into the project to make sure we’re on track, and you won’t be stuck with a bigger bill at the end. If it comes down to it, I’ll pace the desks stopwatch in hand. It would be chaos otherwise.

Then I’ll make sure that creative work fits the format and executions you’re after, bringing the team to the table for a proper feedback session with you. The amends and thoughts you give will be noted, and actioned, and then I’ll go back to make doubly sure they have been made.

Finally, it’s time for the stage we account managers find a bit of a guilty pleasure: proofreading. Word for word, page for page and image for image. It’s all thoroughly checked and double checked to ensure the content is perfect before delivery.

And then?

Then we take all the credit, and milk the great feedback from clients by pretending it was all us!

Just joking. We really are one big team at ilk, and we make sure everyone is congratulated for their contribution. It sounds corny, but we can’t function without each other. And passing on praise is one of the best things we account managers get to do.

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