Knowing about marketing is a requisite for my job. Writing and social media skills are important, too. But probably the most important skill (and the one I struggle with on a daily basis) is the human aspect. All the marketing know-how or writing prowess don’t amount to a hill of beans if I can’t convince the client that this is the right course of action. If the client doesn’t believe me or just flat out doesn’t like me, everything else is irrelevant. So being a good account executive also means being a good judge of character so I can give clients both what they want and what they need in a marketing partner.

I don’t mean that in a bad way–it’s not about being false with clients, it’s about meeting their needs. Some clients need a bubbly, perky cheerleader who’ll laugh at their jokes, encourage them in their efforts and gently but surely nudge them toward the right answer. For some people, that tact fails miserably. They don’t need a friend, they don’t need encouragement; they need someone who will tell them their jokes aren’t funny and that they need to get serious and focus on what’s important if they want to succeed.  They need someone who won’t take flack and who takes a firmer hand on the reins instead of gently cajoling. And some clients just need someone who will be quiet, listen to them and advise them simply and honestly.

Every client who walks through our doors has different needs, both as a business owner and as a person. It’s really our job to cater to the whole person. Sometimes we’re shrinks, sometimes we’re devil’s advocates, sometimes we’re friends. Whatever we are, our clients know that they can count on us to have their best interests at heart and lead them to the answers which are ultimately right for them, as people and as business owners.

In your small business marketing partner, what do you need? A friend, a cattle prod, a confidant? Are you getting that encouragement or push to do what you need to do, or is there something missing?