This summer I celebrated my one-year work anniversary at Two Rivers Marketing. As a new associate, I was coming from several years of in-house marketing experience – from small nonprofits to a global enterprise – and I had no idea what to expect about working at a marketing agency. How different could it really be?
Sure, there might be a pool table at my office, and associates might wear shorts to work in the summer (still not used to that one), and maybe there would be more after-work recreational events. But even as a major Mad Men fan, I knew that the stereotypes about agency life couldn’t possibly match up to reality.
So, if you’re considering switching from in-house to a marketing agency, here are five things to know about agency life:
1. Things move more quickly
Efficiency is an agency’s bread and butter. Clients are counting on us, after all. You’ll learn how to get the best work done in the most efficient way possible. You won’t bat an eye at short timelines and quick turnarouds – and it will make you a better marketer in the long run. Client calls you at 4 p.m. needing something prepped for tomorrow’s 8 a.m. meeting? Consider it done.
2. There can be a learning curve
For people who have never thought much about project scoping or hourly billing rates or time management software, the agency environment can be a bit of a shock at first. It may seem like a lot of processes and organization up front, but that’s the foundation that gives us the freedom to think creatively and do our best work for our clients.
3. You’re more empathetic to your clients
Because, well, you’ve been there. You know the barriers they face on a daily basis: proverbial red tape, unexpected budget cuts in the middle of year, shifting priorities from upper management. You understand they’re not throwing curveballs at you for the fun of it, and you’re comfortable helping them shift gears when those things do come up.
4. You get to work with experts in all fields and specialties
In-house marketing teams vary greatly in size. While some have a full roster of marketers in multiple functional areas, leaner organizations with few marketing staff might not be able to do it all. At an agency, you’ll work with people in more specialized roles who are truly experts in the things they do – from webpage development to social media marketing to copy writing.
5. There are a lot of unexpected benefits
If learning how to be an efficient, hard-working, empathetic and well-seasoned marketer isn’t enough of a benefit for you, there’s more! The little perks of agency life can add up to a lot. Like being able to wear shorts and sandals in the summer. Or having the option of flexible work hours. Or even being an employee owner of the company you work for. Every agency has its own unique offerings that make working there worthwhile.
Making the switch from an in-house marketing team to an agency can be a big change, but there is so much to learn and experience in this work environment.
You’ll be playing pool after work in your jeans and T-shirt in no time.