There’s a long-standing notion in advertising that the Account Manager and Creative relationship is often met with friction, yet an agency cannot survive without either of them.
We’ve shared some tips on keeping your client relationships healthy as an account manager, but how do you go about maintaining healthy relationships with internal team members? Having a well-run, collaborative project team is the foundation for a successful agency, which ultimately impacts your relationships with clients.
You’d be surprised to find quite a few account managers mistakenly think their client relationships flourish at the expense of their team members (see: “yes-man”); however, that is certainly not the case. The most successful account managers not only have trusting relationships with their clients but also with their internal team members. They understand a delicate balance as the liaison between their client and the creative team. They know when to respectfully push back on unreasonable client requests, ultimately maintaining the agency morale and culture.
In a nutshell, effective collaboration is key to doing great work at an agency. While account managers are well-versed with the ins and outs of their client’s business, they need to understand that everyone is smarter together than alone.
Here are some tips to ensure you, as the account manager, do indeed “work well with others”:
Give clear input.
If you do not understand the client’s request, rest assured that your team members will not. It is not up to your team to translate and fill in the gaps on unclear input. Do not be afraid to push back on your client to get more clarity for the team. More clarity equals better work produced, which equals healthier client and project team relationships.
Provide feedback in a respectful and constructive manner.
When reviewing the creative team’s work, always respect the emotional commitment and creative talent it takes to do great work. As an account manager, you should always acknowledge good ideas, praise them, and explain what you love about them and why. Then proceed to address the ideas that have potential. It is important to praise what’s working and offer suggestions about what is not working and why. Suggest how these ideas can be made better. Lastly, tackle the ideas you feel should not be shared with the client. Find something you like about them, acknowledge it, but explain why you think they should be abandoned in favor of the stronger ideas pitched. Do not be dismissive and always lend an ear should creatives want to salvage these particular concepts you want to eliminate. The creative team may also make a strong case to move forward with them, too.
In sum, Account Managers should help improve work, not simply approve work.
Be in the trenches.
If your project team is working late, you’re working late. Nothing causes more resentment than dumping a bunch of client requests on your team and heading out the door. It is important to keep communication open and always be available for your team to help maintain a collaborative work environment.
Celebrate the wins.
Agency life can be fast-paced, but it is important to celebrate and keep the momentum of success going. Always be sure to acknowledge team members who play a role in the success of your accounts. Positive recognition goes a long way when maintaining relationships with team members and cultivating a positive work environment and culture.
Want additional tips on how to retain and improve your client relationships? Check out these blog posts also written by Project Manager Grace Crawford: