Who’s Your Rep? Sometimes titles matter. We’ve recently changed the titles of our client-facing folks from “Account Managers” to “Analyst” to reflect what we feel is an important distinction: namely, who’s crunching the numbers? For a number of search marketing agencies the Account Manager is little more than a functionary in a call center. They’re great on the phone, they’re comfortable with industry speak, but they rely on data generated by others, don’t do the ad hoc analyses, and don’t really know the technology “down to the bottom”. There are sharp analysts in the back room somewhere, but the client doesn’t get to have their phone numbers. We opted to hire Analysts who could do everything: they have to be good on the phone, be great copy writers, and be sensitive to corporate politics. They also have to be terrific with numbers, spreadsheets and database analysis. Many of our internal user interfaces look a lot like a SQL query window. Finding folks who are highly gifted in both left and right brain functions is hard, but we think the benefits of having the client facing person also be the analytical wonk is worth the effort. It would be much simpler to hire a bunch of good phone folks and a handful of good analysts, but we believe the analysis suffers when the analysts lack direct contact with the retailer and don’t have the full context of the accounts in mind. Advantages to this approach: 1.Speed: response times are quicker because you’re talking to the analyst who’s doing the data dive. 2.Quality: the quality of the analysis is better because the analyst has deep familiarity with the account, the seasons, the offers, the strategies, the goals, etc. 3.Results: the management is better because the person “flying the plane” really knows how to fly and how all the pieces fit together, they’re not being coached by the control tower on how to land a plane. Drawbacks to this approach: 1.It’s tough for us to hire analysts, hence we can only grow the business as fast as we can find top quality people. 2.As an agency, we can’t provide 24 hour a-day phone coverage. Finding folks with that skill set who are willing to work the night shift appears to be impossible, and the ubiquitous international call center is not an option. We think the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages, however, for folks who need 24/7 coverage, our model doesn’t work. The moral of the story is: the choices your search agency makes in this regard impact your account and ultimately your results. Look at the job descriptions on their website. You can learn a great deal about who you’re working with by who they’re trying to hire.
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