What are Frameworks?
Strategic frameworks and models can be used to elevate your account management abilities and navigate the strategic planning process. Frameworks or models can be used in a variety of ways, from explaining an agency service and its potential benefit to the client to visualizing the journey of our client’s customers.
Strategic thinking and planning as an Account manager is vital to success because it helps to anticipate the needs of our clients, ensuring that they reach their goals, which is ultimately our purpose as our client’s partner. These models can communicate problems and visualize innovative, thoughtful solutions.
There are many famous frameworks that already exist today. There is no exact right or wrong way adapt these, so long as the model is based in research and accomplishes the desired output.
One of the simplest frameworks in a SWOT Analysis. While this is something most of us learn in grade school, nonetheless, it can be useful as an opener to a Brand Workshop. At Zion & Zion, we conduct Brand Workshops and go through a variety of exercises to further understand the core of our client’s brand and how they can position themselves to standout in the market.
A SWOT Analysis is a framework that helps a business list their company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Strengths and weaknesses are self-explanatory, but opportunities are where you would list trends or market opportunities that can capitalize on the company’s already present strengths. Threats are where competition is listed, and where the weaknesses that could hurt the business are recognized. Using this framework is a great way for an account manager to understand a client’s perception of their company in the marketplace before beginning other marketing and branding activities.
7-S Framework and Porter’s “What is Strategy?”
A framework we adapt ideas from frequently is the McKinsey 7-S Framework. It is a tool that looks at organizational effectiveness through seven key areas:
- Shared values
The framework emphasizes coordination and analyzes how the elements are effectively aligned and allow the organization to achieve its objectives. As an account manager, we need to see our client’s business holistically. We need to be able to know their business at its core and advertise with consistency to create the strongest brand possible. The “Shared Value” idea that anchors the 7-S Model can help define the business and answer the question “Why do we do what we do in the way we do it?” This framework is self-reflective and does not necessarily consider the external.
Another important framework account managers should consider is Porter’s “What is Strategy” piece. Differing from the 7-S Model, this framework considers the external and attempts to uncover the USP (Unique Selling Proposition). It helps the client answer the question, “Who are we?”
The two frameworks can be used hand in hand. For example, in a linear process, the team could discover that the USP for a client’s company is integrity. Using the 7-S Model, the team would fact-check it and see if that characteristic is consistent with a majority of the “S’s” in the model. If at an HVAC company the technicians go through an extensive interview process vetting their character and performing a background check, the “Staff” “S” would be validated with the USP of integrity. It is who the company is at their core, throughout everything they do in the organization. As an account manager, if there are any “S’s” that do not support the USP, it can be a talking point that we use to encourage clients to go back and align internally.
Another example of a model that an account manager can use with a client is the Maturity Model. This is a tool that can help a business assess their current effectiveness and determine what capabilities they need to acquire next to improve their performance. In a new business conversation, a simple maturity model could be used to see where a potential client generally perceives their customers and ground a conversation on how we want to use our marketing capabilities to create tribe members for their company.
In addition, each department at an agency can have its own maturity model. If a client comes to us wanting to improve their media efforts and introduce sophisticated audience segmentation, we could use a maturity model to show them where they are at in media sophistication. From there we can show what kinds of tactics we can use like Tealium to take them to sophisticated, marketing maturity.
Airbnb’s 11-Star Framework
Our final framework is a brainstorming exercise that account managers can use with their internal team. As an account manager, it is important to support the functional teams of the agency and create an environment of collaboration. When approaching a new client, Zion & Zion values using Design Thinking exercises. The Airbnb’s 11-Star Framework can help a team collaborate and use a UX emphasis to brainstorm ideas that push the envelope for our clients.
The 11-Star Framework was born out of the 5-Star hotel experience. The framework is linear and starts at 1-Star. A 1-Star experience for an HVAC company could be the technician did not even show up. This is a “refund me” experience. 3-Star experience could be that the technician showed up and did the job; it was an “expected experience”. A 7-Star experience could be that company-branded popsicles were sent to the house with the AC outage with a message of “A cold treat for you! We will be there to cool it down shortly!”. An 11-Star experience could be that the company pays for a date night for the couple while they get their AC fixed. The model suggests that ideas 6-7 typically are unique, yet still feasible and this is the sweet spot for brainstorming creative ideas for clients.
Frameworks and models are useful tools for account managers, both for managing internal teams and their clients. They are beneficial in organizing communication and elevating your work. I hope you find frameworks that you can adapt into your account management practices.