June 20, 2014
They say, “don’t make assumptions”, but who are they to tell you how to live your life? Contrary to the expression, making assumptions can make you a better account manager, maybe even a great one. Now I can’t condone every assumption you might have. Here are 3 big ones that will always point you in the right direction.
Your Clients Don’t Review Your Reports In Detail
This one is a little tough to handle. Especially when you spend a lot of time creating the report. The truth is clients are busy and most reports don’t tell the whole story.
The metrics explain current performance but they don’t offer much in the way of context. Make sure to highlight relevant points in conversations and e-mails. While you might think it was perfectly clear in the report, you don’t want to have to back track later with a worried client asking, “why is there a decrease here” or “this does not look right.”
By making sure to bring issues up in other conversations you can also assure the client that you are both aware of the situation and the fact that you are taking the steps to remedy this issue or adjust tactics to compensate.
Your Client Does Not Have Your PPC Knowledge
Even though you spend significant time in an account, it is very easy to fail at adequately explaining your work. Now I don’t mean a complete failure of not understanding performance or metrics. I am referring to the explanatory power of your argument.
As account managers we often have a nuanced view of the account and why we preform certain actions. There is a lot of background knowledge in your head to justify your actions, from the account and PPC as a whole. Things the client won’t inherently know.
Now what happens when a client brings up a question and you answer it in a technical or overly specific way? If you were talking to another account manager it would probably be perfect. On the other hand clients may not need to or want to have that detailed of a picture.
Try starting at a high level and working your way back down if needed. Often the simple reasoning, the “I saw X so I did Y” is sufficient and avoids both confusion and taking a conversation off track.
A simple example is driving in different conditions with a manual transmission or drive system. If you are approaching a hill but will need to accelerate, you passenger might ask “why are you not shifting up, it sounds like the engine is getting louder.”
Rather than dive into talk about RPMs, power bands, and the behavior of the car it might just be easier to say “Going up hill requires more power to the wheels and shifting up at this speed would actually make getting up the hill more difficult.” If your curious passenger wants to know more you can take the opportunity to explain further.
Goals Are Not Set In Stone
Continuing to define goals is another example of proactive communication, which is vital to the overall relationship and success of the account. Often we are inundated with metrics and are blindly clinging to performance goals, doing whatever it takes to hit them.
As Jeff Allen posted the other week, it is best not to make that assumption as you may end up making business decisions for the client. While we often know what is best in PPC, we don’t have the whole picture for what is best for our client’s business.
The issue may be with high CPAs or low ROAS. Rather than assume that the immediate response should be to pull back, especially for prolonged issues, it pays to bring to the client’s attention. Bringing awareness to the issue can spark new discussions and may reveal things you didn’t know.
An example could be that the internal sales team is having issues closing leads. Or total revenue and high transactions are more important in the short term than worrying about returns. These are not necessarily things an account manager knows but are aspects of the business that have an impact on PPC.
We covered a few top-level assumptions that are each ripe with examples and situational tactics. This overview should spark your thinking on the subject. By doing so, you can separate yourself as more than just a PPC vendor.