The roles of an account manager (AM) and project manager (PM) are different. Very different. But it may come as no surprise that clients and non-agency folk get them mixed up all the time.
An AM is primarily external and client-facing. The PM, on the other hand, works mostly with the internal team to make sure timelines and budget are met. But they do have one massive thing in common: they are critical to any client engagement relationship. Their yin and yang mentality creates a strong team bond to help lead a client’s vision, stay within budget and on schedule.
So let’s dive into what makes these roles special—and why it creates an unmatchable agency experience for our clients.
What does an AM do?
The short answer: the AM is responsible for leading meaningful dialogue with their clients.
At TJA, our AMs work diligently to understand all facets of our clients, their businesses and expectations. They’re the quarterbacks of strategy development, communication and client engagement.
From a client’s perspective, their AM is their day-to-day contact—the person leading agency meetings, giving them insight into their engagement, and the first person they call when they need something.
A strong AM has a “spidey-sense.” They can read a room and know when to “vibe” check. They are pros at knowing how to ask clarifying questions, predicting conversations and digesting body language. They make sure clients have a safe place to share feedback. Clients should be confident that their AM is their biggest advocate in bringing feedback to a team, ensuring that each project is successful.
AMs are also known to build relationships with clients on a personal level—taking them to happy hours, attending conferences with them, or sending them treats after a big accomplishment make for a strong business partnership.
Lastly, since AMs are advocating for work from every department and looking for additional integrated opportunities, it’s important they are knowledgeable about the industry and evolving trends. For example, when an AM knows that third-party cookies are going away, they may start to have conversations with a media client about how we will be addressing the coming privacy changes.
What does a PM do?
Unlike an AM, a PM is primarily internal facing. PMs know the ins and outs of a project scope and work with the agency’s departments to ensure deliverables are completed on time, in budget and within scope.
PMs are the “numbers people” in a client engagement. They handle billing, agency resourcing and make a (sometimes complicated) timeline puzzle all work together.
PMs are the experts with project management systems and spend a majority of their day opening jobs, assigning appropriate resources, proofing work and communicating client feedback. They organize client files, project details and other assets for the team’s use and reference.
PMs are behind-the-scenes superstar problem-solvers. They engage in critical thinking when planning and attacking tasks. They may not be a client’s main point of contact, but they’re probably the one knee-deep in the agency sauce making sure feedback, requests and projects get done.
Why should our clients have both?
Many agencies structure their client services team with individuals that wear both the AM and PM hats. At TJA, we believe that the skillsets of these roles are vastly different—expecting someone to juggle all areas from vision casting to linear thinking or from minutia control to big picture strategy is simply too much.
At TJA, we provide our clients with “dynamic duos”—a client services team that has individual AM and PM employees who service accounts in tandem. Let’s peel back the curtain and talk about why that benefits our clients:
1. Someone is always thinking about high-level marketing efforts.
After a scope of work is signed, the tactical work begins. A strong agency partner relationship is born when the Client Services Team has the capacity to go beyond managing getting a deliverable complete.
A dedicated AM ensures that each deliverable aligns with the strategy and brings thoughtful, new opportunities to a client to help them move the needle for their business. A PM handling the day-to-day frees up an AM to think bigger picture.
2. If an employee leaves, a client doesn’t have to re-educate their agency.
While TJA has incredible, tenured employees, sometimes they leave. Other opportunities arise, career changes happen—it’s all part of the game.
An internal departure can be hard for a client because they’ve spent so much time training their day-to-day contacts about their business, their goals and even little preferences. Instead of a client having to re-train their lead, you can count on the other individual in the Client Services relationship to know the account history, so the service can seamlessly continue without a hitch.
3. Isn’t two always better than one?
With twice the Client Services team members per client, we provide twice the accountability for our clients. For example, if an email was missed, the other can jump in or if a project deadline is coming up, the other can check in on the status. That kind of AM/PM segmentation allows us to provide that white glove service we hang our hat on.
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Ready to meet your dedicated duo? At TJA, we’re committed to providing the highest level of service possible. For us, that means providing a two-pronged, tag-team of Client Services positions to get the job done right.
Wanna see one of our duos in action? Consider TJA for your next full-service marketing need. Give us a call and let’s get the ball rolling.