World-Class Creative Services Teams Include Account Management
If an in-house agency is successful in contributing to its organization’s needs, there comes a point in its growth that the team will need to restructure if it wants to continue to increase its worth to the organization. Up until this point, the Creative Director shoulders the primary responsibility of communicating with internal clients to identify opportunities for the creative team to support their business goals and there is an informal system by which clients come and give their project to the designer of their choice. But at some point of growth, that informal system becomes overloaded and a new system needs to be implemented.
Traditionally the new structure that will enable creative teams to serve internal clients at a higher level is the ad agency model, with an account management function responsible for being the face of the Creative Team to the client. Even though this structure will allow the creative team to provide more effective and efficient services, it can be a bit scary at first: one, because it’s new; and two, because the Creative Director may feel like he’s not in control any more. But your team must be willing to take a leap of faith if they want to improve upon the high-value, high-quality creative support they provide to the organization. Instituting an account management function is instrumental to that goal and understanding the benefits of account management will make team members less hesitant to take that leap.
Account managers expand the reach of the in-house agency. When account managers are brought on board, they free up the Creative Director to concentrate even more on the critical development of the design team and the quality of work they provide. The Creative Director remains is still responsible for marketing his team’s products and services through management of the account managers (either solid- or dotted-line) as well as the creative staff. Another benefit of the account management model is that the staff is freed up to focus on the work in which they specialize versus multitasking across various functions.
Account managers use an integrated approach to enable their clients to make full use of the creative functions, whereas department/functional managers are typically silo thinkers. For instance, if a client is launching a new product or service and is requesting a brochure, the account manager can suggest complementary value-added products and services, such as interactive or presentation services, throughout the launch period. The account manager always has an eye on the goal of providing the client with a high-level campaign rather than just one product.
Account managers are dedicated to their clients’ needs. An account manager helps increase awareness for the creative team throughout the company—including how the team’s products and services can help clients achieve their business goals. By collaborating on a client’s needs, goals, milestones, and budgets, an account manager can, through guiding on-target solutions with the creative team, provide effective solutions to meet those needs. And as the account managers interface with their clients as ‘trusted advisors’ in achieving their goals, the Creative Director is able to guide the creative team to higher-quality solutions and is able to attend client presentations with the account managers as the visual communications problem solver—an extra perception of added value to the client.
Account managers develop strategic integrated communications plans. To maximize their clients’ budgets and resources and achieve their goals, account managers develop semi-annual or annual communications plans. These plans enable better resource utilization and increased effectiveness while ensuring more planned business for the creative team.
An account management model allows increased contribution and realizes cost savings. With a track record of positive business results, the creative team may be asked to “sit” at the corporate marketing table as part of the planning process for overall marketing, branding, etc. With this increased opportunity for contribution, the creative team can make an even greater difference in its company’s success. The ability to significantly add value as an in-house agency saves the organization millions of dollars that would otherwise go to an outside agency with perhaps not as effective results. The people who know the company best are its vested employees. With the right creative and strategic marketing talent on board, the in-house team can be more effective than an outside agency.
Instituting an account management model becomes a win-win scenario for your Creative Team. You expand your reach, you contribute to your clients’ success and you pave the way for additional contribution and recognition in your company’s growth. The discomfort associated with adopting a new approach is worth the success it brings.
For information about how Cella can add value to your business through consulting, coaching, and training, please email email@example.com.
Cella Consultant Susan Hunnicutt is an expert in using marketing and communications to achieve business objectives. She works with organizational leaders to assess their needs, determine their goals, analyze their resources and develop an action plan and recommendations to meet these goals. Susan’s value proposition is taking a growing in-house creative team “to the next level,” not only in metrics but also in systems and processes, quality control and increasing the number of high-profile and quality client projects.