As I transition back into advertising account management, I’ve been thinking about the role in our digital age.
Rapid changes in technology and digital communications has caused advertising to constantly reconsider the most relevant media. New job titles debut every month to accommodate the change, and agencies spring up to specialize in new areas.
So where does that leave account management?
Is our role fundamentally changing? Or have we become less necessary overall?
My basic understanding of a good account manager includes these descriptors: Mediator, Representative, Jack-of-all-trades, Controller. Sometimes we become the fun uncle who promises the world and asks the parents to deliver.
These skills aren’t going away anytime soon. But today’s agencies expect a lot more out of their client handlers.
The other night I discussed this issue with someone from an awesome interactive/new media/digital shop. We concurred that a successful account manager for their agency has a wider range of skills, including many technical abilities. Agencies like his need someone who can foresee the next interaction opportunity, make it relevant to the client, communicate the limitations of technology, and even offer solutions to the developers. Therefore I’ve expanded my definition of account manager by adding:
- Community Manager
- Best Friend
- Fairweather Coder
- Creative Authority
- Technology Connoisseur
- Business Developer
- Digital Entrepreneur
This (non-comprehensive) list applies to the future of client services as a whole, but is particularly important in smaller agencies with a start-up feel. Large organizations can hire one person for each of these roles, whereas small shops may invest in just one.
I know I have a lot more growing to do as an account manager. I’m not sure I’ll ever master the whole list, but acknowledging the need is my first step.
With so much change in the advertising industry, shouldn’t we expect our front-line communicators to change as well? Let’s refresh account management as much as we do our Twitter feeds.