12 November 2013

“Who are you? Agency vs. Client.”

Candidates ,specifically Account/Project Managers frequently approach me saying they want to move client side and vice-versa.

Although the cultural differences of these diverse workplaces need to be acknowledged, the ultimate goal is to establish yourself in a role that is rewarding, relevant and will ultimately make you happy.

Marketing is just marketing, isn’t it? Agency or client’s side… We’re all one big family of marketers with a wealth of experience and a sack full of valuable skills that we can shift from one discipline to the next.

Shifting your career path is something that requires a great deal of thought – not to be taken lightly. Below, I go into a bit of detail about the differences between Agency and client life.

Agencies move at lightning pace on many projects simultaneously and everyone handles many jobs and brands simultaneously, so you often find yourself acquiring new skills at a rapid pace. If you’re a born multi-tasker and love to show your creative stuff, agency life is the place to be. Never a dull moment.

Client side you will get work on a variety of campaigns. Often times projects will be the same year over year, which means you’ll be a part of building and maintaining those brands as time goes by. Your schedule will probably be a lot more predictable than in the agency world. Which could become dull at times.

Many people are tempted by the ‘cool’ agency lifestyle, yet others are driven by the opportunity to look after one individual brand in its entirety month after month.

The differences in the marketing, advertising and communications world are crystal clear – agency or client. Agency folk could be flamboyant and ready to burn the candle at both ends; client-side executives would sit behind a large desk with a picture of their children on it and have a team to boss around.

In an agency there is a sense of togetherness. You feel like you’re pulling together for a common goal and you don’t get this in a big client organisation, as there tend to be more conflicting objectives, not just between departments but also in your own team. You have to become an expert at political maneuverings.

While agencies offer variety and diversity of work, in-house or client-side roles provide longevity and stability but can lack variety. In a good agency the teamwork can be amazing– nothing on the client’s side is like that ‘up all night, working on a big pitch’ feeling – or those moments when you really get it right. Looking at it like that, it is clear why people often choose agency over in-house roles. But there is a chance that you could end up on stress medication, or worst case scenario, in a loony bin 🙂

VARIABLE Client Side Agency Side
Money WIN
Hours WIN
Career Portability WIN
Strategy v Tactics WIN
Knowledge Sharing WIN
Cool Factor WIN

So, before you make any rash decisions- please do some research, start early and have sufficient time to digest the information and even change your mind a few times and ask around…

What’s more important to you? The money factor? Growth? being in a fun and youthful environment and working crazy stressful but “creative” hours or in a very cooperative and mature environment, working standard the standard 9-5?

From what I have written above – I’m sure you will be able to distinguish which of the two careers options are best suited to you… Everyone is different, don’t just follow… “because, everyone else is doing it”.

Please feel free to comment, on your thoughts perhaps, or your experiences. Would love to hear what you have to say… 

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