“I cannot say the word eye any more . . . . when I speak this word eye, it is as if I am speaking of somebody’s eye that I faintly remember . . . . there is no eye — there is only a series of mouths — long live the mouths . . . . “  Bob Dylan, Liner Notes to Highway 61 Revisited


Once upon a time, I wrote a short piece on Marvin Gaye’s National Anthem, which I was privileged to witness live from about 75 feet away.  While the quality of my writing is much better now compared to then, I’m not sure I’ve ever written a piece I am more passionate about than this one.  As I reexamine what I wrote, what I find most revelatory about my writing is the linkages I made between Marvin’s Anthem and disparate exterior concepts…one to “Church” (which represents “Church” as an ideal and not a church that I’ve actually attended) and one to a Ralph Ellison story that I’d not read (or even thought about) since college.

What makes being present at Marvin’s Anthem a soul-stirring (and soul-shattering) experience for me wasn’t just being able to witness such a cultural milestone in the flesh but having the social knowledge to place my experience in a much broader historical context.  Because of my arts-intensive background, I was able to glean more from the event than someone just present in body but not so much in spirit.

I’ve met a lot of Paid Search professionals over the years.  Most of the experienced folks know pretty much the same stuff.  Some of us might act upon the information somewhat differently, but the top performers are very methodical, process-oriented, and work within a structure that is or approximates the Alpha Beta process outlined in our whitepaper on the subject.

Yet, not everybody with the same knowledge and the same process puts out the same quality of work.  I think I know why that is…

Linkages.  The ability to see their account management tasks in a greater social and societal context…both within the framework of all the other accounts they have or are working on and the framework of the client’s business and its relationship to the marketplace.


There are paid search account managers who appear to run their accounts as if the client’s universe were contained within a MMORPG, and while you can achieve decent results in such a (vast) vacuum, eventually, the client’s growth will hit a ceiling when all the tactical actions have been executed upon at an optimum level.  Of course, the client will continue to demand further growth, and there might not be tons to be achieved via pure execution.

IMO, that’s when account management gets to be fun.  Because creativity and insight are what rules the roost.  The answer won’t be found in anyone’s blog post (for people don’t tend to share the really good stuff…and even if they did, it’s not likely relevant to you).  The answer won’t be found by talking to your colleagues (for even if they are helpful getting you on the road to discovery, they don’t have your client-specific knowledge to take you there).  The client might have some insights, but they’re not going to have the answer…if they did, they wouldn’t be paying for your services.

No…the answer must come from you, and getting there will require you to go beyond your typical processes and conversations.  Getting there will require deconstruction and reconstruction of your thoughts, ideas, and experiences combined with a lengthy course of reimagining, contextual shuffling, and mental hijinks.

I can’t tell you what trip you need to get to where you need to be.  But I can tell you that you need to trip…


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Todd Mintz
Todd Mintz, who has been with 3Q Digital since March 2011, has worked in search engine marketing since 2000 and has used Google AdWords since it began. He also is very visible in the SEM social media space and is a curator/contributor at MarketingLand. He was one of the founding members of SEMpdx (Portland’s Search Engine Marketing Group), is a current board member, and writes regularly on their blog.