What does it take to become an account manager for a marketing agency? Account managers and marketing managers consistently rank among the highest in job satisfaction, so it's certainly worth a closer look at this exciting role. Find out more about this high-energy, rewarding career and if you have what it takes to be an account manager for a marketing agency.
What is an Account Manager?
A marketing account manager takes responsibility for forming and strengthening relationships between a company and its customers or clients. At the end of the day, the most important thing they do is to make sure clients are satisfied with the products, services, and related customer care they're receiving from the company.
Marketing, Sales, and Service Account Managers each have a role to play as they build, strengthen, and retain relationships at different stages in the buyer's journey.
A marketing account manager's job description often includes specializing in a particular industry to ensure they know the customer's needs inside and out. They're also highly proactive people—listening to customer needs, objectively measuring, managing people and processes needed to get the job done, correcting issues when they're small, and measuring results after an "improvement" initiative.
What Do They Do?
An account manager may have different duties depending on their department. Here we're looking specifically at an account manager for a marketing agency.
A marketing account manager is responsible for several tasks within a marketing department.
Marketing Account Manager Roles/Responsibilities
In marketing, some of these include:
- Studying trends to capitalize on them
- Learning who target customers are, how they behave, and what they need from you and then building buyer personas
- Mapping out the buyer's journey and developing a plan to guide the target audience through that journey with effective marketing content.
- Building a marketing plan
- Strengthening the brand's reach and depth.
- Segmenting and personalizing campaigns to increase relevance to a particular audience
- Creating promotional materials, physical and digital as necessary
- Writing up proposals and contracts
- Sales enablement and Service enablement content (Chat Bots)
- Starting industry conversations to build more meaningful relationships and demonstrate thought leadership
- Coordinating with (and managing) writers, graphic designers, social media managers, videographers, editors, and other creative professionals
- Analyzing campaign performance across channels to identify the highest ROI media outlets and continually improve the cost-effectiveness of marketing
- Building long-term relationships and leveraging key accounts (with permission) to generate social proof that attracts and converts more accounts like them
- Evaluating operations and using automation to improve internal processes, communication, and alignment with sales and service
- Working with account managers or other leadership in the sales Sales, and Service of their clients to align goals, processes, technologies, and team efforts
When Marketing, Sales, and Service are aligned, customers receive a consistent, predictable, and satisfactory experience at all stages of the buyer's journey.
Spending all day on social media. Graphic design. Posting video clips. Following trends. Data analysis. Executing strategies. Delighting customers. It sounds like the dream job for the right person, but day-to-day, being an agency account manager is a lot of work.
You're taking responsibility not just for what you do but for what others do. At the end of the day, if something isn't working or has an undesired effect, you're the one who needs to fix it and answer for it. To do this, you'll approach each day with an open mind and eagerness to learn and grow to get results.
You'll become a manager of expectations, daily finding that balance between selling your product and not overselling only to disappoint.
For every project, you'll need to juggle schedule, scope, and cost to get the best result possible:
- Schedule. What needs to be done? Who's responsible for what? What's the timeline? Is the schedule realistic?
- Overworking a team leads to inferior products and burnout. While stretching a team is okay, proper human resource management means not overextending it too often or for too long. Challenge without discouraging.
- Scope. How big will this campaign be? What do we expect to accomplish? How does it fit into our larger marketing strategy?
- Cost. What can you do with the money you have to work with? The answer to this question may lead you to cut some of the scope or schedule to work reasonably within budget. You'll show the value of your work by getting results with less money so that the budget increases over time.
You'll learn to do everything your team can do. So, what if you're not a writer or graphic designer? That's no excuse. Day-to-day you'll learn what they do, so in a pinch, you can step in and do it to meet your deadlines.
You'll thrive if you focus on doing it right the first time. It takes more time to fix mistakes and put out fires than to put processes and systems in a place that runs like clockwork.
While you're living in the day-to-day, you'll always be thinking: what can we do better here? That's not to say you'll constantly change things on your team, which will lead to mistakes. Just don't fall into the status quo. Systematically become a more effective and agile team.
How to Become a Marketing Account Manager in an Agency
A marketing account manager typically has at least a bachelor's degree in marketing, communications, business, or something related. But like many careers, education is just about learning the basics.
Ideally, you'll complete a marketing internship to learn hands-on. You could get your Master's or begin working entry-level as an account executive (AE), where you'll most likely manage individual campaigns and projects delegated to you by the marketing account manager.
The more you learn and apply effectively, the faster you can advance to marketing account manager within the agency.
It's possible to become a marketing account manager without a degree. But you'll need to be a self-starter who proves yourself by getting results before someone will risk hiring you. This is a much harder and generally longer route.
Regarding marketing agency jobs, this role is too important not to bring in the right person for the job. As the marketing account manager, everything starts (and in some ways ends) with you. You generate brand awareness and build a consistent brand experience to nurture meaningful relationships.
Sales leverages those messages to close the deal. Service uses those messages as guideposts for customer expectations to ensure the company delivers on its promises.
Within a marketing agency, the whole team looks to the marketing account manager to steer the ship. Through your leadership, you coordinate the efforts of a team of employees and contractors to present a consistent brand image.
You track and measure performance on both a team and individual level to identify what's not working to improve workflow and become a trusted partner with customers.
It's a given that you'll need marketing skills. But you'll also need to learn everything you can about the industries you work in. Ideally, marketing agencies operate within a niche of industries, allowing them to understand their clients' needs better. On top of these, several soft and tech skills will serve you well.
- Ability to shift between tasks
- Communicate clearly and concisely in writing and speaking
- Interpersonal relationship building
You'll need to have front-end (user) knowledge of how marketing technologies work and can enhance human performance:
- Project Management
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
- Website development
- User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI)
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Social Media
- Ad Tech
- Email marketing
- Marketing channels
- Inbound marketing management platforms
- Outbound marketing management platforms
- Video, Writing, and Graphic Design Editing
And it certainly doesn't hurt to have some backend (programming, cross-platform integration, app development, inner workings) knowledge of some of these as well.
Becoming an Account Manager for a Marketing Agency
Being an account manager for a marketing agency is a high-energy and gratifying career. It consistently ranks in the top 10 in high job satisfaction and, for the right person, it can be the dream job.
But it's not for the weak. You must not only have a broad set of skills but also a proactive approach to building relationships with clients.
To learn more about how to thrive in marketing rather than just staying afloat, download our free guide.