For years, creative agencies have faced the dilemma of whether to charge for Account Management or not. Most do, some don’t – instead choosing to hide the salaries of their Account Managers within higher creative and production costs.
Why would they do this? If the role is important enough to have existed since agencies began, then surely it should be properly compensated like any other role?
In theory, yes, but in practice some clients don’t understand the value of an Account Manager simply because their role is not directly involved in the end product. And, if clients don’t appreciate the value Account Managers bring, they’re not going to be very keen to pay for them.
If you’re facing this problem in your agency, I would suggest someone needs to sit down with your client and enlighten them on the importance of the role and all the invaluable work that Account Managers do behind the scenes.
Owning all the important relationships
Here are a few points you might want to use to help bolster your argument:
Account managers are the people who build and maintain relationships with clients, whilst also being the ones to deliver the brief to the designers. They represent the client’s interests within the design department and the design department’s interests within the client’s office. And, while they don’t physically produce the work themselves, the account managers are the driving force behind each and every project.
Make it personal
From a personal point of view, building relationships with my clients is a bit like getting to know a new best friend. Finding out as much as possible about them: their likes and their dislikes, what their interests are, how they like to spend their weekends and whether they like marmite or peanut butter on their toast. From this I’ll gradually build up a picture of their tastes from a design perspective, their preferred ways of working and whether they’re hands on or want to sit back and let us run things for them. Every client is different, so it’s about building trust and having a relationship with my clients, where they feel they can be totally open and completely honest with me.
Once we’ve established this, and got to know each other, I then feel confident that I have a real insight into what style of design suits their particular brand and also what style suits their own personal taste.
Having the confidence to suggest a vision for a particular project and knowing that it will be reciprocated in a way that I can visualise easily is a crucial part of the process. It means I can then go back to our designers to talk them through it, or even sketch it out so that they can fully understand the aims and objectives, and I can support them through the entire design process from start to finish.
Keeping all the plates spinning
Account managers are always the main point of contact whilst projects are in progress. They’re the people that keep the clients updated, holding those regular meetings and calls with progress reports, whilst carefully managing the budgets and ensuring that all timelines are adhered to.
Add to this, the researching and planning that goes on behind the scenes for each project, the gentle nudges for feedback or assets needed to stay on track, and of course managing clear communication throughout the process to ensure everything runs smoothly, on time and on budget.
The Account Manager is the oil in the engine. Without it, the engine simply could not work.
To outsiders, being an Account Manager can seem like an easy job – but not if it’s done properly. That’s because, a good Account Manager will always strive to give the client what they need, rather than just what they want. The value of managing difficult conversations should never be underestimated. Just imagine, if there were no Account Handlers to fight the designers’ corner, then they’d be having to conduct all those difficult conversations themselves. Help!
Not all agency-client conversations are difficult, of course and, at Fluro, we thrive on collaboration rather than confrontation. So, if you’re a prospective client who would like a friendly chat to discuss what we could do for you, then please give us a call on 01628 525449. We’d love to hear from you.
Author: Nicole Pirog