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So, you’ve decided to invest in franchise digital marketing to help grow your brand or business. You’ve got high hopes, a limited budget and a finite amount of time to start seeing results. You’ve done your homework and have vetted marketing agencies to help you, and now it’s time to choose one. Who do you go with?
Well, a lot will depend on an agency’s history and track record, vendor relationships, whatever specialties it may have and more. As a brand leader, you’ll be weighing numerous considerations; but as a person, you should pay special attention to the agency’s human resources, particularly its team of digital marketing account managers, because it’s the account manager who will oversee your marketing world. They can frustrate or confuse you or reassure you that all their hard work and your money are paying off. The stakes can be quite high.
In many ways, the account manager is the unsung hero of the digital marketing world. They juggle dozens of balls at once and are expected to have all the answers (and some of them do!). Realistically, it’s the account manager’s job to regularly collect information from multiple sources and make the connections that’ll help them tailor their marketing approach, meet deadlines, set goals and help you understand the value of your digital marketing spend. If that sounds like a lot, it is — and it’s often easier said than done — which is why successful franchise marketing depends very much on the skills, experience, and dedication of your account manager. Given that, what should you look for in a good one?
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The good account manager
The first thing you should expect of a good account manager is a demonstrated skill set that lets them navigate the wild and wooly world of digital marketing. From interpreting hard data to adjusting client budgets, making course corrections, and communicating with website developers, writers, vendors, and more, your account manager should be completely comfortable actually doing what the job title suggests — managing people, deadlines, data, expectations, and more. If they don’t have a good handle on the demands of the job, if they can’t multitask and stay calm under pressure, you could be in trouble.
Being able to interpret information, set goals, and manage situations and people is extremely important, and good account managers do it all the time. But good isn’t always enough. Sometimes, situations demand more, and when that happens, you’ll need more than a good digital marketing account manager — you’ll need a great one. But what separates the two?
The great account manager
In my experience, the answer is soft skills — the talents, instincts and values that can’t be measured but can help all of us be better at our jobs (and life) and that allow great account managers to deliver the goods during exceptional or challenging times.
Transparency is one of those soft skills. Nobody likes to be lied to, least of all people with thousands of dollars at stake. Great franchise digital marketing account managers know the value of honesty, even if telling the truth is difficult. They never blur the line between fact and fiction and always understand that it’s better to be the bearer of bad news than to stay quiet. Great account managers always tell it like it is, whatever that may be so that clients can decide (often with the help of their account manager) what the next steps should be.
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Another soft skill that helps define a great account manager is intuition. Skilled account managers don’t just rely on their heads; they often go by gut instinct. They see something — say, a slight drop in organic traffic — and dig deeper. They talk to their SEO specialists, they check to make sure their client’s website is working properly, they determine the dip isn’t related to something seasonal, cyclical, or algorithmic, and above all else, they don’t panic.
The nature of digital marketing is that it’s a fluid, dynamic approach that’s measured over months, and even years, not days. A great account manager knows that and makes sure the client does, too.
Perhaps the most important quality to look for in an exceptional account manager is empathy because when an account manager can empathize with a client, they feel that person’s hopes and fears enough to want to help them. An account manager who understands that good digital marketing has less to do with KPIs and keywords and more to do with being human is better equipped to answer a client’s questions, address their concerns and celebrate their digital marketing victories. Really, what empathy recognizes is the relationship between the account manager and client, and acknowledging that relationship can have a powerful effect on outcomes.
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At the end of the day, franchise digital marketing account managers — good, bad or great — are human beings with feelings and goals, too, and they appreciate your feedback. If you’re working with one who isn’t meeting your expectations, politely let them know and try to find ways to make improvements. If that’s not possible, don’t be afraid to request a new one. Agencies strive to ensure there’s a good fit between clients and account managers because they know how much depends on it.
On the flip side, if your account manager is knocking your socks off, delivering leads and hitting KPIs, make sure you let them know you appreciate their commitment to your growth; it’s more than being complimentary. When it’s all said and done, keeping the channels of communication open and honest will go a very long way toward maximizing your ROI.