Marek Wierzbicki from our Berlin office reflects on the age old question for Digital Marketing professionals: should you embrace agency side vs client side roles? Which is the best career path for Digital Marketers?
We speak to hundreds of experts in the field of Digital Marketing on a weekly basis. We listen, we advise, find solutions and options for their next career step.
“Not interested in agencies, only looking for a client-side career opportunity” – we hear that statement a lot. And in many cases it seems like there is no real reason behind it…
Why is that so?
And what are common perceptions of an agency role?
“Agencies mean longer working hours, lots of stress and they pay less. An in-house role will, on the other hand, offer a stable opportunity, good work life balance and make you rich…”
Of course a lot of these preconceptions have some foundation, but the world is a complex place and these generalizations can be extremely misleading.
I will skip the obvious argument that agencies themselves are numerous, vary hugely from one to the next, and have multiple career path options. I will also save my thoughts for another time on how important it is to never approach a career search with a large portion of the market – containing very lucrative and exciting possibilities – ‘closed from consideration’ from the beginning.
I will rather focus on advantages of an agency role, which are often left out by candidates fixated on jumping to the client side:
- Working with different clients and projects: which means an extremely steep learning curve. Agency marketers are able to work on projects in different industries, speak to a variety of top industry experts, get insights on different clients and become versatile business people and problem-solvers.
- Working with expert colleagues: As opposed to many in-house roles where marketers face the issue of working with people from other divisions that do not understand their field of expertise, in an agency marketers are surrounded by people who work and think like them. They have the same goals, face similar issues and work on similar projects. And in my opinion, when solving business problems, there is nothing more important than exchanging know-how and ideas with your colleagues.
- Staying close to the product/solution: Nowadays working on an agency side means often working alongside product managers and software experts. Online marketing is shifting closer to Saas and many agencies have access to their own tools or have partnerships directly with solution providers. That means marketers can learn the product and become know-how holders in their niche field instead of developing into a generalist with no specific skill set.
- Strategic approach: Digital marketing services provided by an agency are no longer merely implementation of strategy goals from the clients’ brief. With a more complicated advertising landscape and growing complexity of technical solutions there are lots of ways to implement a strategy and offer advice on reaching goals.
- Consulting: Being able to offer solutions, consult, give advice and always remain in direct communication with decision makers is what keeps a marketer’s job exciting.
And that’s not all…
So when thinking about your next career step, take care not to overlook some of the long-term benefits of an agency environment.
The client-side benefits are numerous also, and Adaptive works fluidly filling positions in both sectors of the industry.
However, there are two sides to every coin, and often our recruiters find that many marketers are so focused on securing a position with a brand or a household-name client that they allow this appeal to cloud their thinking on some key issues – how much will they enjoy the role, how much will they learn, and how much will they grow as a professional.
Last but not least, I speak from experience! Having made the decision to take the agency path in my own HR Consulting and Recruitment career, I witness the challenges and opportunities unique to an agency setup on a daily basis. Corporate side definitely has its own set of advantages, but both halves of the industry are worth consideration!
Marek Wierzbicki is the Digital Marketing Recruitment DACH Director for Adaptive-Digital. He recruits for roles in Search and Performance marketing across Europe, with a concentration on the DACH market. Feel free to reach out to him on LinkedIn for a networking conversation.
Tel: +49 (0) 30 36 74 06 10
E-Mail: marek.wierzbicki (@) adaptive-digital.com
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