Friday, August 10, 2007

As a follow up to the Strathclyde Uni talk on getting a job, this is another wee chat about working in 'agency land' versus ' client side'

Most people in my MSc wanted to get jobs directing a lot of different agencies from a strategy in comms and marketing they had developed while working in some large company. Most people ended up working in SMEs or the public sector with a far higher level of 'hands on' and a lot less bossing agencies about or making up strategy.

A few worked in agencies and I think one or two did very well, with me using it as great experience

Ok , so what are they main differences?

Practically speaking ? you will work far longer hours in agency land and have more stress...this can be nice and exciting while you are young and without kids but come 35 do you want to be slogging out 12 hour days with a family ? You can down size your hours a little as you get some respect in an agency, or of course start your own agency!

The upside is that you DO tend to talk more comms strategy and DO more marketing communications than in a client side role- in the client you spend a lot of time coming up with the concepts and getting your ideas accepted then it's PRESS the MAGIC BUTTON and the agency scurrry about making up ads', PR, web sites etc etc

The key job is going to be account executive...these are the go between agency and client...often it is an assistant role to the account manager or director, but usually it comes with a good deal of responsibility over some projects at least.

You are much closer to how things really get done in marketing- print, design, mailing/fulfillment,creative thinking, photography, the press, and of course programmers and ISPs in internett desing land. This is of real importance when you come to a small company later in any marketing role- you know what goes on and can take on direct responsibility. In larger companuies it means you can squeeze the agency on money or time or know when they are maybe overpromising on either of these!

Also as mentioned you can have the chance to go self employed and have the ability to join in a small gang leaving to set up and hence spread the risk and offer more as a team. This is often lacking in big marketing departments...basically you can do nothing of any real 'doing' value outside as a consultant until you are really quite respected in the industry.

In agencies things happen fast and this makes it exciting that you can loose your job pretty quick if a client walks or doesn't like you! Because there are large gangs of creatives and designers, and the type they attract, the agency world tends to be very sociable and a lot of fun. Larger companies can lack this on the client side, whereas most any agency will have plenty of pub nights, seasonal parties and win-champaign nights! Also the clients expect to maybe let their hair down with the whacky agency guys and be wined and dined and partied.

Often in a role you are really always flying by the seat of your pants and making it up as you go along. Your boss or the cleint will probably land things on you like event management or a product launch video and expect you to get on with it. the phrase " experience is that certain quality you acquire the exact moment after you most needed it" applies. Very good for confidence building.

The major plus side of client side is that you work less hours and get some higher percieved job security. Also at some points in time and career level, it can pay better than agency. 6 years ago hardly any agencies in scotland were offering their new account managers company cars for example- unthinkable back in the 80s!

Client side can go slowly though. You could be stuck in a marketing assistant job waiting for someone to leave or go on maternity and even get looked over for someone with more hands-on experience of PR for example. Also it can take ages to get comms

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