“Love your family. Spend time, be kind and serve one another. Make no room for regrets. Tomorrow is not promised and today is short.” -unknown
AKvertise, Inc. is an advertising agency that has recently launched a non-traditional service offering parental coverage for freelance advertisers and small agencies that need temporary coverage while spending time with their newborns.
In this article, you will find our interview with AKvertise founder, Akvile DeFazio, on the details of her company’s new parental leave service.
What prompted the launch of AKvertise’s parental coverage service?
As President of our small social media advertising agency, I was expecting my first child this year and needed to determine a plan for coverage so I could take time to recover and bond with my daughter. I asked a few long time industry friends that I trusted, were experienced with running their own agencies and/or were seasoned ad account managers, often referred business to, and some that I’ve partnered with in the past to see if they could help take over for the course of my leave. I am incredibly grateful they agreed as I would not have been able to completely step out for my 2.5 month maternity leave. I owe it to Pamela Lund, Joe Martinez, and Michelle Morgan.
Through my own experience, learning that some other industry friends were expecting, and seeing Twitter conversations from men and women about some people not knowing what to do if they had to step away from parental leave or if they had an accident, I saw a need that should be addressed. I wanted to help others feel at ease, not lose revenue and clients, and keep campaigns running without interruption while enjoying time with their newborn.
For someone considering this service, how much time should be planned for the transition period to get the new manager or team up to speed?
I began planning eight months prior to going on maternity leave, but now that I learned from my own experience, for the client and our team to make a smooth transition, at minimum one month is all we would need to get everyone up to speed. The number of necessary meetings during that month would depend on a number of variables, such as quantity of clients and channels and whether they are account management or consulting clients.
How far in advance of the transition period should the soon-to-be new parent contact AKvertise?
We require at least a three month notice so that we can plan ahead and make room for the soon-to-be new parent and their clients. If you learn about our service closer to your due date, please don’t hesitate to reach out as we may still be able to find a way to accommodate you and your clients.
Do you offer a non-compete agreement where AKvertise team members can not take on a client they are temporarily managing for paternal services?
We do. Our team is only offering the coverage as a temporary service and we hand back the clients, their accounts and assets to you once you return to work.
How does the fee aspect work? Do freelancers get any portion of the income during their parental period?
Simply put, you invoice your clients and we invoice you. We charge an hourly rate and discuss all monetary components prior to your leave to make sure that it’s mutually fair given client monthly budgets and their client’s fees. The client (freelancer or ad agency owner) does collect income while on leave and are still responsible for invoicing their clients. We do not invoice the clients of the person we cover, only them, for total monthly hours spent across their accounts.
Do you have a structured onboarding process for new accounts?
We do, though it is fluid as each client presents a unique scenario. It depends on if they need coverage for their advertising account management and/or consulting clients. For onboarding, we have an initial discussion to learn about clients, which ad channels we will be covering, where they are in the account set up process, what your processes are so that we don’t skew much from your client management style, expectations, goals, budgets, and other necessary variables. If we proceed, then clients will be informed of the temporary transition and we will all meet prior to your leave.
Do you have service level agreements (SLAs) for client communication, client response time, maintaining the initial agreed-upon budgets, and expectations for hitting KPIs and performance goals?
For our direct clients, outside of this service, we do, however, since we are temporarily taking over your clients while you go on leave, we will follow the SLAs you have preset with your client(s) so that it is a seamless transition between you working on your accounts, to us taking over for the duration of your leave, and then handing it all back to you when you return to work.
What are some of the hesitations you think might prevent an advertising professional from utilizing parental service coverage? How does AKvertise address these concerns?
Advertisers may be hesitant about sharing their clients, even temporarily with another agency, especially if they don’t know us personally. We can certainly understand the concern about handing over your work and clients to someone else, but we have established ourselves as skilled and trustworthy members of the online marketing and advertising community. We would encourage anyone potentially interested in our service to vet us and have a conversation with us (in person depending on location, by phone, or through video) to see if we are right for them. If the concern is us taking their clients, we have contracts in place that would prevent us from doing so, plus, it’s not in our nature to do so.
Is there a limit on the size of client your team can take on?
Short answer, no. We have experience working with clients of all sizes. We have worked with small to medium businesses, celebrities, and enterprise level clients. As an example, earlier this year, we joined a large Silicon Valley company as an extension of their team to consult and help manage their social media advertising accounts through their IPO process. The only limitation we can foresee is bandwidth if the quantity of clients we take over at a given time are all of large caliber.
Is your service limited to the United States or can you work with international account managers and clients?
At this time, we are sticking to North American clients. Over time, as we see how this new service performs, we may expand to international clients. While that is the case, we do service international advertising accounts, so if you reside in North America and are looking for parental leave coverage but have international clients, we can assist.
Are there any industries that AKvertise doesn’t serve?
We specialize and are passionate about ecommerce, events, mobile apps, and lead generation. While we work more often with B2C brands, we do also have experience and take on select B2B clients. While we have some experience with the medical, legal, and real estate industries, we typically don’t serve those, but are open to the discussion if there are a few within your client roster.
What happens if a client decides to terminate the relationship while the freelancer is on leave?
Prior to your leave, we will discuss this possible but unlikely scenario. If it were to occur, it would be one of the very few reasons we would contact you during your leave. We would immediately reach out to inform you and it would depend on your contract with your client and the procedure you would implement if they had a breach of contract. If your client prefers to work with another account manager or consultant, we can introduce them to another one on our team to see if it is a better match.
Is there a plan for the future for how this might expand? Such as, eventually covering more than 2.5 months? Taking on bigger accounts as the team grows?
We are already working on some other ways we can expand this service to help even more people. One way, thanks to our friend Jenny Halasz that runs SEO agency, JLH Marketing, she recommended we also offer military leave coverage as she does for her clients.
As for duration, we can certainly cover longer than 2.5 months. That was the amount of time that I took for my maternity leave, however, others may take more or less and we can be flexible with the time that they decide they want to spend with their newborn and away from work. We also have experience with larger clients and can take those on. Our only limiting factor now is bandwidth in case we get a large number of people on parental leave at the same time, though, the probability of that is low at this time.
Could this model work within an agency, like Hanapin? We typically spread responsibilities internally, but if that wasn’t possible could we hire AKvertise and how would that work?
I believe it could. And yes, we could service a larger agency like Hanapin if a few employees needed coverage and depending on the coverage period. Even prior to launching this parental coverage service, our agency has partnered with other marketing agencies that focus on paid search and/or paid social or provide complimentary marketing services such as SEO. We act as an extension of their team or provide the services their clients need that they may not provide.
If your team has enough members within to cover the day-to-day for someone on parental leave but may not yet have higher level account management or consulting experience, we do also offer consulting services to assist your team members with managing your accounts. If you don’t have enough bandwidth on your team, we could then provide account management services.
Are there any other big plans for AKvertise in the pipeline?
We do have some exciting things on the forefront, however, we will share once we’re fully ready in the new year – stay tuned! In the meantime, we will continue building out this new leave coverage service. While we are keeping it to a small coverage team of people we know personally and have direct experience working with, if you are interested in joining the parental coverage team, please let us know by visiting akvertise.com/contact. We live for connecting and helping people. We want to be able to provide this service to more advertisers and their clients while also maintaining our reputation as providing conversion oriented and tailored solutions to our clients with integrity.
For more information on AKvertise’s parental leave program or any of their other services visit akvertise.com.
If you would like to know more about the woman behind AKvertise, Akvile DeFazio, visit the about page or connect with her on Twitter at @AkvileDeFazio and @AKvertise or on LinkedIn.