Working in digital, you have have two options. You can either work:
1. Agency side
2. Client side
But how do you know which route to follow? This post will explain some of the highlights and lowlights of working in both areas.
There are three advantages:
1. Working for an agency gives you a lot of experience across a wide range of clients. You can work on up to 10 different clients across different industries, finance, retail, telecomms and entertainment meaning you gain an extensive amount of experience without having to spend years working in each of those sectors.
2. In an agency you can have a very specific role such as seo manager, ppc manager, display executive. This means you can become specialised in a shorter time than if you were client side. It also means you can then take this experience and start working freelance. You have the experience, the clients you have worked on, the good name of the agency and hey presto you are ready to roll.
3. A lot of agencies have graduate programmes which allows you to gain experience across the different departments before choosing an area such as search to work in full time. There are a lot of young people working at agencies, it is a good transition between University and working in the real world. You work hard and play hard. You socialise often with your work colleagues who end up being very good friends.
There are of course disadvantages. Working agency side can be very stressful. You sometimes get a call asking you to start and complete a task when your whole day was full anyway of other important client work. You can therefore never really plan your day, as there will always be something that drops in on your lap last minute and that has to be attended to right away.
I have worked client side for 6 years and as within an agency, there are some advantages and disadvantages:
1. Your job remit client side is much broader than agency. Marketing manager means you cover not just search, but offline work as well. You can get experience working on digital – seo, ppc, display, affiliates but also print such as advertising in newspapers and magazines and out of home advertising which is posters and billboards. You have a marketing budget and can see the ROI which is not always clear when you are working agency side on one small section of the budget.
2. One of the areas I liked most client side, was working with the different agencies. As a client you are able to send out briefs to potential agencies which they then have to respond and present back to you. This way you can see how creative the different agencies are in terms of the solutions they offer. This can be particularly interesting if there is a small budget and if your product offering is new and original with very few competitors in the market place.
3. Stress free
Working client side, means you can usually plan your day. You know what work you have to do, what is outstanding when the meeting with the marketing director is and you can therefore easily prepare for these. If you need help with running reports, you can always ask your agency to do that for you, making your day less stressful.
Working for a client can also have some drawbacks. You are just focused in one industry (such as telecoms) and cannot move easily to gain experience across another area such as finance. Therefore once you have chosen the industry that you like, you tend to stay there for a while. It is fine if you enjoy it and good at it, but if you want to try something new, this will often incur a step back in terms of pay and job title.
Before you choose which area you want to work for, think about your long term goals. Where do you see yourselves in ten years? If you want to gain a lot of experience quickly in a specific field, I recommend agency. However, the work, life balance can sometimes be easier to attain client side, but then it is up to the individual on how you handle your work load. Let me know what route you decided to explore and why.