"Adding value" is one of those terms that can be difficult to pin down. "Value" is highly subjective, and what is valuable to one person may not be valuable to another. What then, should an account manager do when they are encouraged to "add value" for their clients?
Chris Guillebeau writes: "Value means helping people. When you get stuck, ask yourself: how can I give more value? Or more simply: how can I help my customers more?"
Guillebeau also writes that people (or, in our case, clients) strive for less stress, conflict, hassle and uncertainty in their lives. It would be incredibly helpful if we could reduce these four negatives for our clients. By doing so, you'll be seen to go above-and-beyond the standard agency remit, and automatically add value to the service you are offering.
Let's assume that you are going to do all the basics of account management perfectly (accurate costing, nailing deadlines, effective communication, etc). Here are some of the additional ways you can help (add value for) your clients:
- Have critical conversations.
- Be proactive - don't just wait for the next order to come in.
- Keep your promises.
- Pre-empt issues before they arise.
- Make it as easy as possible to do business with you (e.g. clear and quick communication, accurate quoting, pain-free processes).
- Proofread copy and pick up any client spelling or grammar errors.
- Link results to revenue and profit growth.
- Add in the element of a pleasant surprise.
- Suggest improvements.
- Suggest alternative ways to produce a project or campaign.
- Suggest cost-saving ideas.
- Suggest ways to improve your client's business efficiencies.
- Provide any information that will help them look good to their management or colleagues (e.g. reports, statistics, research, feedback, testimonials, comments, awards, articles, etc).
- Be a creative problem-solver.
- Think solutions, not problems.
- Get strategic.
- Help with your client's internal planning processes.
- Learn all you can about your client's business. Ask great questions. Show that you care and understand their business needs.
- Run free educational workshops for your clients.
- Provide expert advice or insider information.
- Send them interesting articles that may benefit their business.
- Help them in a way that may not directly result in monetary benefit for your agency.
- Be a connector - introduce your client to people or businesses within your network.
- Become a trusted and indispensable extension of your client's marketing team.
- Know more about elements of your client's business than they do (useful when your client experiences staff changes).
The more that you get to know each of your clients, the more you'll be able to figure out their unique preferences and pain points, and where you can be of greatest service. A coffee and a load of thought-provoking questions could be just the thing to start that added value flowing!
Sarah Ritchie is the founder of AM-Insider - a website bursting with tips, tricks and resources to create account management superstars in the advertising, design, PR, experiential and print industries. Sarah has been involved in account management for 25 years and has a passion for encouraging, mentoring and helping others succeed.
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