Despite being the first point of contact in a creative agency, many creative agencies face the dilemma of whether to charge for Account Management or not. Most do, some don’t – preferring to disguise the salaries of their Account Managers inside higher creative and production costs.
Why would they do this? f the role is important enough to have existed since agencies began, then surely it’s a cost factor that should be acknowledged in the process, like any other role.
In theory, yes, but in practice some clients don’t understand the value of an Account Manager. Usually it’s because their role is not directly involved in the end product. If clients don’t appreciate the value that Account Managers bring, they’re not going to be very keen to pay for them.
If you’re facing this problem in your agency, someone should sit down with the client and enlighten them. Here’s some reasons that explain the importance of the role and the invaluable work they do behind the scenes.
Owning all the important relationships
Account managers build and maintain relationships with clients. They also 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. While they don’t physically produce the work, account managers are the driving force behind each and every project.
Make it personal
Building relationships with my clients is a bit like getting to know a new friend. I find out as much as possible about them. What do they like and dislike? How do they like to spend their weekends? Do they like marmite or peanut butter on their toast? From this, I gradually build a picture of their tastes from a design perspective. I also get a sense of their preferred ways of working; whether they’re hands-on or want to sit back and let us run things for them. Every client is different. It’s about building trust and having a relationship where the client feels 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 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 go back to our designers and talk them through it. Sometimes we 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 keep the clients updated, hold regular meetings and provide progress reports. All the while, they’re carefully managing the budget and ensuring that all timelines are adhered to.
The researching and planning that goes on behind the scenes for each project remains unseen. The gentle nudges for feedback or assets needing to stay on track, and of course managing clear communication throughout the process, Account Managers ensure that everything runs smoothly, on time and on budget.
The Account Manager is the oil in the engine. Without it, the engine simply would 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, they’d have 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