June 30, 2023

RIP account management

Peyton Sutton

EVP, Client Partnership

The ad industry has killed account management as we know it. Brand leaders are facing an uphill battle of greater challenges than ever before, like a shorter tenure of marketing leaders, increased pressure to prove ROI, embracing emerging tech, and in-housing of creative and media services. The pressure is real. As a result, brands are quick to change agency partners, resulting in an all-time low of average tenure for agency/client relationships after years of decline.* With options aplenty and technology informing decision making, the relationship aspect of the business is at risk of becoming obsolete.

When clients aren’t as loyal or patient as they used to be, where does the relationship sit? In other words, is the account manager still relevant in today’s industry landscape?

Study after study confirms that the single greatest predictor of doing great work and creating business impact is the quality of the agency/client relationship. It’s not strategy, the quality of the creative, or the impact of the media plan. The relationship still sits at the heart of it all. But in order to remain relevant, we have to redefine what that relationship means and how an account team can use a strong relationship to create meaningful business impact.

I asked some of our client partners to tell us what they need from an account manager today. Danielle Pepperl, Director of Global Brand Marketing at Brooks Running, tells me  account managers must “have a very clear understanding of the clients’ business and marketing needs and be able to translate those needs to the agency, empowering the agency to develop work that moves the clients business forward in the intended direction.” 

In other words, we must evolve away from the relationship only being centered on rapport, hospitality and fun. Those attributes still matter, but today’s agency/client relationships must also include respect, understanding, strategic acumen, and consultation. Our practice and our approach must evolve to become strategic business partners, not just relationship holders.

The name account management doesn’t quite fit anymore. Yes, we manage accounts, but we do so much more than that. We consult, we strategize, we guide, we partner, we deliver meaningful business results. 

With that, meet Curiosity’s brand new Client Partnership team. A team focused on becoming experts in your business and competitive landscape, who will embrace your business challenges and the things that keep you up at night and serve as a strategic thought partner along the way. A team that will push you, support you, understand you, and will still manage to have some fun together along the way. Our clients are demanding this change, and the industry needs it to succeed and thrive.

*Source: 4A’s– Average tenure of the agency/client relationship is less than 3 years, more than a 50% reduction from decades prior.

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