As director of services at an agency, one of my main responsibilities is creating account teams for new clients and making sure existing teams are properly resourced. At Hanapin Marketing, we staff account teams according to the philosophy of available capacity, and we believe that achieving the best possible fit is the first step towards building a solid client relationship. As the saying goes, “Get the people right, and the rest takes care of itself.”
A powerful way to staff up larger accounts is what we call the “team of teams” approach. The purpose of a “team of teams” is to ensure account managers have proper support so they can focus on strategy creation and have the resources needed to handle the implementation. Each individual within the team of teams has a specialized area of expertise — hence they are a part of that specialized “team” as well as the account team — and each person has clear responsibilities.
Today, I’m going to share how we go about building a team of teams, the benefits of this approach and some of the potential pitfalls that can be a threat to efficiency and effectiveness.
Creating the team of teams
You can employ the team of teams approach in any paid search environment, so it’s not solely for agencies. For instance, if you’re working in house and have multiple resources, you can put together a team to work on a special project. If you’re working alone and don’t have additional resources to tap into, you can hire a consultant or multiple consultants to create your very own team of teams.
At our agency, a typical team structure usually consists of the following:
- Associate Director: This person is responsible for ensuring the right strategies are in place and that work is being executed in a timely fashion.
- Account Manager: Responsible for the day-to-day operations of an assigned account. Account managers are responsible for strategy creation, owning the client relationship and project managing the implementation of initiatives and optimizations.
- Account Analyst: Responsible for owning account analysis and rolling up analyses to the account manager. The information account analysts glean from accounts is used by the account manager to form a strategy.
- Production Associate: Responsible for implementing all strategic initiatives, optimizations and other routine account maintenance.
When I was coming up through the ranks of paid search and often worked as a team of one, I was sometimes stretched thin and unable to go into enough depth in areas such as account analysis, spend enough time researching new features or think through new account strategies. A main benefit of the team of teams approach is its ability to create scale by allowing team members to focus and specialize.
No one person is an expert in all things PPC. Creating a team of teams provides the ability to bring in experts that can focus 100 percent of their time in areas of an account where they can have the greatest knowledge and can create the most impact.
Creating an environment where experts can focus on their strongest areas ultimately increases account performance and leads to happier customers and stakeholders.
The team of teams is an effective approach for dividing responsibilities, but there are potential pitfalls to avoid.
It’s crucial to clearly define and communicate each member’s specific role on an account. It’s easy to form a team but hard to ensure everybody completely understands the role they play on that team.
I’ve personally witnessed the consequences of team members being unclear about their role and responsibilities. Key work doesn’t get completed, which leads to client frustration, and a paralysis comes over the account team. This negatively impacts efficiency and overall performance.
Communication is tougher
The more people are involved on a team, the harder it is to keep everyone on the same page. The account lead must be deliberate in how they facilitate communication between team members.
PPC accounts are more complex than ever before, which means providing clear context is imperative to making sure everyone understands the requirements concerning a project, optimization, analysis and so on. When communication is clear, that enables the right work to be performed, leading to meeting performance expectations.
An effective way to communicate with the team at large is to hold a standing internal meeting where all parties can get together and discuss important priorities, concerns and deadlines for work completion. Holding an internal meeting where everyone’s together at the same time ensures the team is on the same page.
Clearly defined responsibilities and clear communication can help overcome obstacles and keep the team moving in the same direction.
I’ve personally witnessed the positive financial growth experienced by our clients’ accounts when we’ve adopted the team of teams approach.
Dividing up responsibilities creates focus, which means there’s more time available for PPC managers to develop cutting-edge strategies, provide deeper insights and takeaways and build stronger client relationships. Consider using the team of teams approach the next time you sign up a large client or take on a big project.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.