Client services is more than just the day-to-day running of client accounts. A key skill that is essential for being a great account manager is being able to strategically direct your clients to ongoing success.
Understanding how internal and external factors can impact your client will help you to identify potential opportunities for them, and help you to lead them from strength to strength. Two tools that we use in the Client Services team at Branded3 to help identify areas of opportunity are SWOT and PESTLE analysis.
These techniques can enable you to get a full view of your client and the industry that they operate in, and will not only provide insight into areas of opportunity but also shed light on any areas of weakness that could affect their account.
Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats are the four pillars that you should always be monitoring as an Account Manager. When conducting SWOT analysis, it’s beneficial to evaluate performance, client relationship, competitors, and landscape changes when looking at each of these areas.
It’s recommended that you set up and maintain a document tracking these factors, as doing so will give you a well-rounded view of the account. Hopefully, with intervention from yourself and your team, the different areas will change constantly.
Let’s break down what each of them mean:
Strengths: Assessing the positive aspects of your account will showcase the advantages that they have over competitors. This is something you should ensure is protected, and look for opportunities to maximise and retain these strengths.
Weaknesses: Weaknesses should also be evaluated, so that you can analyse any potential improvements that could be made to your account. When you’ve identified the issues and the solutions, present a plan to your client on implementing strategy accordingly.
Opportunities: This section of your SWOT analysis will be populated with actions from the other sections that you have completed, but can also be used to outline short, medium and long-term goals for the account. Being aware of any potential changes taking place with your client such as mergers, acquisition, and changes in product or service offering will provide you with initial possibilities for adapting your strategy to maximise the account, and identify other opportunities for success.
Threats: The final part of your SWOT analysis is assessing likely threats to your client and your strategy. Any threats you identify can be used to create protective strategy opportunities to minimise the risks.
The second tool that we use to outline opportunities for our clients at Branded3 is PESTLE analysis, which looks at external circumstances that could affect the level of success for your client.
Not all components of PESTLE analysis will be applicable to every client at any one stage, but this is another working document that will change as time goes on and the client progresses. The six pillars of PESTLE analysis are:
Political: These are the political factors that may impact a specific industry, the economy, or the country as a whole. Understanding the political factors that may affect your client is vital in ensuring your strategy’s success. Political changes can impact a multitude of industries simultaneously, and contingencies should be identified in preparation. An example of this that has affected some businesses is Brexit, and how it has created uncertainty for international operations that they currently have with the EU.
Economic: Any change in the economy needs to be factored into your client strategies to make sure that there are no unforeseen effects on your client, and, ultimately, your agency. If the economy impacts your client, the likelihood is that it will impact their budgets, and therefore your project overall.
Social: Social factors can impact your client and their performance. Any changes in demographics or cultural trends can influence how consumers purchase, and this could affect your client’s success. As such, having your finger on the pulse when it comes to social changes and movements is important for success.
Buying habits can change in in a number of ways. As an example, a recent study conducted by PowerReviews found that 38% of consumers used Amazon for product research, in comparison to 35% using Google. This could influence digital marketing strategies that you are implementing for clients, and illustrates the importance of having awareness of social factors that could affect the success of your client.
Technological: Technology is constantly evolving, especially in the Search industry, so fully understanding technological changes and industry updates is imperative for ensuring a successful project for your client.
Legal: Laws and legal legislations are always subject to change, and this could impact the way that your client can conduct their business. Keeping up to date with consumer laws and other legal influences that could affect your client will ensure that you are able to adjust any strategies accordingly.
An example of a business that was affected by legal factors is Tesco, and the changes to consumer laws in reference to product pricing changes. This affected their reputation and overall success. Making sure that you and your client are aware of any changes to legislation that could influence them or their customers is imperative in order to be successful as an Account Manager.
Environmental: These factors concern the environment, including climate, weather and global changes that could impact your client and the industry/sector that they operate within. These factors can obviously affect specific sectors such as holiday and travel companies, but other environmental factors such as regulations on carbon footprints and recycling can impact any businesses social responsibility policy. This can have a knock on effect on the day-to-day running of the business in terms of business messaging used in marketing practices.
Having a full understanding of how each of these areas could affect your client can present a range of opportunities to adapt your current strategy, develop your current project into additional or new areas, and ultimately steer your client to further success.
Using both SWOT and PESTLE analysis in unison improves the quality of your account management, we also explore three other skills that you need to be a successful Account Manager here. Using these skills will ensure that no opportunities are missed, and that the potential for client success is maximised.