Why Marketing Agencies Are Investing in Key Account Managementin Customer Engagement, Key Account Management /
Key Account Management is the art of engaging with high-value customers to promote a long-term, strategic partnership that results in organic growth. Because high-value customers appear across multiple industries, KAM is be useful for many different types of organizations.
For some of our customers, high-value customers are a segment within a broader customer base. However, for some companies using Kapta, every account is high value. And we don’t mean that as a platitude—we mean these companies have a small roster of clients, all of whom are worth half a million dollars in revenue or more, annually.
For these organizations, all Account Management is Key Account Management, and KAM is not an afterthought or an offshoot of sales. Rather, it’s an established pillar of the organization.
One good example is a marketing agency. In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the challenges that define KAM at marketing agencies, and how our customers in that industry use Kapta to manage client relationships. Even if you don’t work for a marketing agency, read on: It can be helpful to see KAM in action at an organization where Key Account Management is a thriving, important function at the organization.
Marketing agencies need Kapta because they are:
- Service firms, actively working on client deliverables at all times
- Cross-functional teams, coordinating large efforts across lots of people and skill sets
- Desk-based vs field-based, which demands a proactive approach to client contact
- Highly scrutinized, and constantly under pressure to demonstrate value
KAM at Service Firms
Marketing agencies don’t sell a tangible product, but rather, a collection of services. Whether they bill by the hour or in flat fees, they need to be actively working on client deliverables in order to be profitable. It’s the account manager’s job to keep work coming in the door—and that requires deep customer engagement. Account managers at marketing agencies need to:
- Know their customer’s big picture goals—as individuals, teams, and as an entire organization
- Act strategically and effectively to help them meet those goals
- Measure impact periodically to demonstrate value and fine-tune the approach
In other words, they need to follow some version of Our KAM Process in their everyday work. Kapta is built to support this process. With Kapta, marketing agencies stay connected to their clients’ goals and challenges, so they can proactively suggest solutions. (These solutions become client deliverables, which become revenue.) Kapta helps marketing agencies develop complex Action Plans designed to drive big picture growth for clients—and everything in the action plan promotes revenue. Finally, Kapta helps measure the success of individual deliverables as well as the overall partnership, which helps demonstrate value to clients—and keep the work coming. (More on that later.)
Another defining feature of marketing agencies is that they need cross-functional teams to work on each piece of business. There’s the account manager or client services lead, who’s in charge of managing the client relationship. Often, there’s a brand strategist who might review competitive threats, industry trends, and client goals, constantly cross-referencing to make sure the marketing strategy is sound. (This could also fall under the account manager’s job description if the agency isn’t big enough to support a brand strategist role.) There are creative teams—art, copy, UX designers, web developers—who translate the marketing strategy into branding, messaging, and other creative assets. There are quality control and production specialists. And there are project managers keeping everyone organized, on time, and on budget.
In a team like that, the Account Manager (and the strategist if that role is filled) is responsible for ensuring that every client deliverable is strategically sound, helping that client achieve their interim or long-term goals. As they’re reviewing deliverables, they are also meeting with clients regularly to capture feedback on existing deliverables while also keeping the pipeline of new work flowing.
We find that while project managers have several purpose-built tools to help cross-functional teams stay organized, account managers do not have the same luxury. Kapta is designed to support the client service function, helping account managers stay deeply engaged with clients so they can act as effective “quarterbacks” of a cross-functional team, ensuring every deliverable is what the client needs, and that clients stay satisfied throughout the process. Kapta also supports project managers and the rest of the team by integrating with the tools agencies use to get work done (such as Slack) and helping track contracts and timing as projects progress.
One thing many Account Managers at marketing agencies will run into is the team losing sight of big picture goals as they get caught up in the daily ins and outs of client deliverables. Maybe there’s a big leadership summit at the beginning of the year, where the team conducts a SWOT analysis, identifies key strategic objectives for the year, and starts to brainstorm an action plan to accomplish those goals. The output of that meeting is presented to the team and stored in a beautiful PowerPoint deck on the server…then promptly forgotten. Kapta helps keep strategy visible, so anyone who picks up a client project can easily see the broader picture for what they’re doing.
Desk-Based vs Field-Based
Managing client relationships is different when you do it from a desk, rather than from the field. Companies that sell a product, such as a large piece of equipment, have built-in opportunities for client face time: Installation, operation, regular maintenance, auxiliary equipment sales, etc.
However, marketing agencies do not have the same excuse to regularly show up at their customer’s door. That means they need to be intentional about keeping in touch—checking in regularly, providing consistent opportunities for feedback, and ensuring they get the face time they need with day-to-day clients as well as executive leadership.
The more remote work becomes the norm, the more difficult it can be to maintain a strong relationship. Kapta helps marketing agencies by tracking client touchpoints, and raising a flag when it’s been too long since the team reached out. Kapta also provides multiple opportunities to demonstrate value, which makes it enticing for account managers to set up periodic reviews. That leads us to the last reason marketing agencies love Kapta: They constantly need to show value to clients.
Constant Need to Show Value
There’s an old saying: “You start losing a client the minute you win the business.” There are a few reasons for this:
- Expensive services: Marketing and ad agencies are a big investment for their clients—and the more reputable your agency, the bigger the price tag
- Competitive agencies: There is always another marketing agency out there, eyeing your client, and a dissatisfied client will always be receptive to competitive threats
- Digital/SaaS solutions: The more digital marketing becomes, the more tempting it can be for organizations to automate or digitize their marketing efforts entirely, forgoing the consulting aspect of an agency to save money
- Internal teams: Larger organizations will be tempted to bring their marketing function fully in-house to save costs
Marketing agencies need to demonstrate value to their clients at every turn—and they need to ensure deep client engagement so they become extremely difficult to replace. Kapta helps marketing agencies demonstrate value by tracking metrics that matter, including:
- Specific KPIs: There’s no better way to show you’re worth the money than to be able to demonstrate real results to your clients. Kapta not only tracks KPIs, but also makes them easy to report and share, both with client and with your C-suite.
- Account health: Strong account management is as much about client satisfaction as it is hard numbers. Kapta helps track overall account health, including leading indicators such as how often and how meaningfully your team has reached out to a client, and how much your work is measuring up to your client’s expectations.
Diving into the specific challenges that shape key account management at marketing agencies, it’s easy to see how service-based firms in competitive industries would benefit from diligent, consistent KAM practices. For these firms, we at Kapta don’t worry about coaching teams from a purely sales mindset to an account management mindset—they’re already there. Instead, our focus is providing a purpose-built tool to support a well-established account management team. Because again, project management teams have their tools. Web developers and other creatives have their tools. But we often find account managers—the people responsible for keeping work coming through the door—are still relying on a collection of emails, Powerpoint decks, Excel spreadsheets, Slack, and their own notes to run the account.
To see how Kapta supports client service leads at marketing agencies and other service-based firms, schedule a personal demo today.
Alex Raymond is the CEO of Kapta.