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As I was grocery shopping yesterday, something new caught my eye–Cap’n Crunch’s Chocolately Crunch. Not only did the cereal sound delicious, but it had a beautifully designed box (with “NEW!” across the top) and prime placement at the beginning of the cereal aisle. I’m not trying to make your stomach growl, although mine surely did, but I want you to think about how this situation arose. Presumably a client, The Quaker Oats Company, approached an ad agency with a brief, asking them for help with creating and introducing a new product. Within the ad agency an account manager worked closely with the agency’s creative team and the client, to make the product a success and to grow the relationship with client into a long-lasting one.
An advertising account manager is the liaison between the clients and their agency, and is responsible for bringing in and keeping clients as happy as possible, so that they come back for more business. They work with every department inside the agency, as well as vendors and partners outside the agency, and clients. They guide a campaign or project from before its inception, to its very end. Basically they take preojects all the way through the brief and concepting and back and forth with clients, and into production to create the work. Then they’re actively involved in pushing that work out into the world, and play a role in the post-launch analytics and continual optimizing. Many of these projects overlap so they’re always juggling and managing something. Account managers need to be experts of their clients’ industry, and they need to be champions for everyone within the agency.
Account management isn’t exclusive to advertising, though that may be where it’s best known. Account positions are also extremely common at Marketing and PR firms, advertisers (as opposed to ad agencies), daily deal companies, and anywhere else that ongoing relationships are important. Account managers are responsible for keeping clients happy so that they can be sold on more business in the future.
On a typical day, an advertising account manager does a lot of communicating and “hand-holding.” They discuss with a client about their needs and wants and then relay this information to the creative team within the ad agency. The strategist might also present the final advertising product to another client. This might involve selling the client on the idea, negotiating the price, and working to secure future business. The account manager could also monitor current campaigns to make sure they end up successful. If a campaign wraps up, the account manager will talk with the client to ensure they’re happy and guide them through thinking about what projects might be up next.
The position looks quite similar in other industries.
As an Account Manager you should make between $32,000-$76,000 per year. And there’s plenty of room for advancement. You could become an Advertising Account Director ($64,735 – $160,792) or an Account Supervisor ($48,000-$95,000). Some Account Management positions can come with a commission structure or bonus incentive if they entail more selling than hand holding.
These hot spots have the highest salaries for Account Managers:
To be an Account Coordinator you’ll probably need a four year degree from a university, with a focus on advertising or business. You’ll also need at least one internship in the field to build the skills for the job. It’s important that you’re able to take calculated risks, be curious, have a sense of diplomacy, and possess passion and ambition. Also, you’ll need to have organizational and project management skills, interpersonal strengths, salesmanship, strategic thinking, domain expertise, and collaboration. If you’re a people-person you can really rock this role!
If Account Management still sounds like your cup of tea, here are a few things you should do to get started (though Mad Men should teach you everything that you need to know).
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