Why Marketing Agencies Need Creative Project Managers

Creativity matters for marketing agencies. In fact, in a survey of 257 marketing professionals who work with agencies, 55% of respondents said that creativity is the attribute that is most desired in agency partners.

Your team is all about living up to that. You’re always spitballing ideas and coming up with grand plans. Brainstorming sessions happen on a near-constant basis, and there’s relentless excitement brewing over what you’re sure will be the next big thing for your clients.

But, here’s an important question you need to answer: Who takes care of turning all of that creative inspiration into an actual plan? Who’s going to hash out the details and make sure those nuggets and lightbulb moments get turned into something tangible?

This is exactly where a creative project manager proves their worth. Let’s cover what you need to know about this role — including why it’s such a crucial position within marketing agencies. 

What is a creative project manager?

From advertising or social media campaigns to content marketing strategies and website landing pages, a marketing agency keeps its doors open by churning out creative projects for its clients.

It’s the role of the creative project manager to bring order to all of those projects. This means that they fulfill a number of important responsibilities, including:

  • Planning and organizing: Mapping out project budgets, timelines, scope of work, and more.
  • Communicating: Serving as the liaison between the creative team and the client to establish expectations, provide status updates, hand off project deliverables, field feedback, and more.
  • Monitoring progress: Keeping a close eye on project timelines, workloads, cross-functional teams, and project objectives to ensure all of those elements are staying on track. 

It’s a big job, and people who can successfully fill these roles are in high demand. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this type of marketing management role is projected to grow at a rate of 8% between the years 2018 and 2028 — which is 3% faster than average. 

How does a project manager fit within a creative agency?

Having a project manager in a creative agency is pretty much a necessity, particularly for a team of big-picture thinkers who don’t pride themselves on managing logistics and details.

Let’s dig into a few of the major advantages that illustrate why every marketing team can benefit from having someone reliable in this important role.

1. Creative project managers keep deliverables on track

When it’s your job to deliver high-quality work to clients on time, there’s nothing more humiliating than needing to ask for a deadline extension.

That’s one of the biggest benefits of having a creative project manager on your team. In addition to planning more realistic end dates and managing expectations upfront, they’ll keep a close eye on how projects are progressing to mitigate any roadblocks and keep your whole team on track and on-time.

Not only will it eliminate the stress of the dreaded last-minute scramble to get projects across the finish line, but you’ll also elevate your agency’s reputation with your clients by consistently exceeding their expectations. 

2. Creative project managers mitigate scope creep

The words “scope creep” are enough to send shivers down the spine of anyone who works within a marketing agency. You know firsthand how quickly projects can balloon and demand even more of your team’s time. What started as a straightforward newsletter campaign has somehow expanded into a total branding exercise.

In one survey of agency teams, a whopping 67% of creative teams said that they over-service 50% or more of their clients.

It’s an easy and common trap to fall into, but it’s avoidable with the right project manager in place. That person will take care of establishing scope and agreeing upon a clear statement of work before anybody rolls up their sleeves and gets started. That way, both your team and your clients are in the loop about what is (and isn’t) included with that project fee and agreement. 

3. Creative project managers streamline communication

You know that effective communication is critical, yet it’s a common point of contention between agencies and their clients. In a survey of 500 marketers who all work with outside agencies, communication was cited as the top challenge of that relationship.

Oftentimes, there are a lot of cooks in the kitchen for creative projects. Cross-functional teams, clients, freelancers, vendors, and more need to successfully collaborate in order to complete the work, and there’s a lot of coordination required to avoid crossed wires.

The project manager will take care of streamlining all of that communication and ensuring that the right messages end up in the right hands. Creative teams and clients can rest assured that they have the most current information they need. 

4. Creative project managers bring order to chaos 

All of the above benefits tie into one overarching advantage: Project managers bring some much-needed structure to the creative process. 

72% of marketers say that agencies are inconsistent and need to improve, and another 71% say that agencies need to be better about accepting accountability. But, all of that is tough to follow through on if nobody is overseeing the project details and holding the team to those standards.

Without project managers, creative projects can quickly spin out of control. And, while your team may end up with dozens of good ideas, it’s unlikely that you’ll manage to execute on any of them without the careful preparation, planning, and perseverance of a project manager in your corner. 

What skills does a creative project manager need?

Project managers within marketing agencies are responsible for a lot, and exactly what competencies they require to be successful can vary depending on their company, team size, specifics of their role, and more.

However, as this job description describes, project managers will need to be skilled at:

  • Organizing
  • Multitasking
  • Communicating (both written and verbal)

Additionally, project managers in agencies should possess a keen attention to detail, some basic knowledge of creative projects and processes, and familiarity with project management tools and workflows. 

What tools can benefit a creative project manager? 

Being a creative project manager is a big job. But, the good news is that people in these roles don’t need to go it alone. Technology can be a major asset for organizing and monitoring work, ensuring consistent communication, and completing projects on schedule.

The main marketing project management tool that a project manager will want in their arsenal is a collaborative work management platform like Wrike. 

With this software, project managers and their teams will gain visibility into the entire marketing department (including internal and external teams) and move creative projects from inception to completion — without the stress and confusion.

Structure, order, and organization don’t need to be the antithesis to the creative process. In fact, when a skilled project manager uses them to complement all of the big ideas of a marketing team, that’s when the real magic happens.

Ready to complete more creative marketing projects with less hassle? Start your free trial of Wrike today. 

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