Agencies vs. Freelancers: The Importance of Account Managers

In the course of various new business opportunities, a prospective client invariably asks, “Why don’t I just use a creative freelancer for this?”

It’s a valid question. With marketing budgets shrinking and the responsibility handed to marketing managers growing, creative freelancers represent a cost-effective way to complete most simple jobs in a timely manner. The operative word here is “simple.” As a project and/or team grows in complexity, freelancers experience difficulty managing both the mandatories for the project as well as assimilating the feedback of multiple team members.

This isn’t to say that freelancers lack the skill or ability to accomplish the technical mandatories of a project. Rather, I’m highlighting the fact that a freelancer is a single individual. And while it’s only a matter of time before our new machine overlords link us to the glorious hive-mind, these freelancers have a limit when it comes to project complexity and team size.

Once a project becomes complex (ie. 12-month marketing plan, website implementation), an individual responsible for the outcome of the project becomes necessary. More than just ensuring the project’s mandatories are met, this individual also works closely with the client during the planning phase to determine not only how the goals are met, but the formation of the goals in the first place.

This individual is an Account Executive/Account Manager, and they are the primary differentiator between a freelancer and an advertising agency of any size. Budgets, schedules, mandatories, ROI, and next steps are all within their domain and they do their best to ensure that your project is on time, on schedule, and actually delivers to expectations. They don’t blindly take orders, but challenge clients to maximize the return on a particular activity. And for this reason, they can ultimately provide more value to a client than a more affordable freelancer.

If you’re currently working with a freelancer and desire more input on your strategy, a tighter schedule, and an individual who will answer your call any time of day to ensure your marketing initiative, I would love to grab a drink and talk about how we can help you get where you want to go.

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