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To Be or To Serve: The Pros and Cons of Client-Side vs. Agency-Side Marketing
Congratulations, you just graduated and are ready to start your career in the exciting field of marketing! Or perhaps you are looking to make a change and want to start out fresh with a new profession? Within the marketing field, there are essentially two ways in which you can go: working for the marketing department on the brand/product side, or servicing clients on the agency side. I have outlined the differences in 5 categories to help you decide which path would be the best fit for you.
Client-side: Being on the client side often means working primarily on one brand or service. Working on one brand gives you the opportunity to fully immerse yourself and learn anything and everything there is about your brand. Instead of only focusing on one aspect that an agency's service might be needed for, you have the opportunity to learn everything from strategy to KPI’s, really understanding how everyone’s roles fit together.
Agency-side: Agency life is incredibly fast paced. You will find yourself working on multiple accounts at the same time, often with long hours to go along with it. If you can handle the extensive hours, you will get great opportunities to work with a wide range of clients and brands, giving you the chance to increase your knowledge base and contacts.
[Related: How to Use Growth Engineering in Your Marketing]
2. Career Growth
Client-side: New positions don’t come up quite as often as on the agency-side because turn-over is lower. However, having a strong brand under your belt can help you move to a higher position at another brand.
Agency-side: due to the fast nature of the business and long hours, turnover can be high which means there are more positions available. However, open positions in an agency can be extremely competitive.
Client-side: There's a significantly higher starting salary, and the hours are closer to a 40 hour work week. The client-side also allows for a more consistent work-life balance which gives you the opportunity to enjoy personal hobbies, or take classes to enhance your career.
Agency-side: There's a lower starting salary plus longer work weeks, which can be close to 50-60 hours. While starting salaries are lower in agencies, the vast amount of opportunities to work your way up can get you to a higher salary/title faster than on the client-side.
4. Office Atmosphere
Client-side: Offices are typically more corporate with a greater amount of seasoned employees.
Teams on the client side tend to be more collaborative with a willingness to help each other.
Agency-side: Offices are young, lively and creative.There are a ton of opportunities to be innovative and learn new skills. However, it is an extremely competitive environment.
Client-side: There's limited travel, often restricted to vendor events and training.
Agency-side: Depending on the number of clients you have and the location, you may have an opportunity to travel for client visits.
[Related: Marketing Exec Susan Avarde On Brands, Business And Professional Success]
Deciding Which Way to Go
While both client and agency sides have their pros and cons, deciding which path is right for you can be tricky. Do you prefer a consistent work environment focusing on one brand, or do you prefer having multiple clients in a fast-paced setting? Would you rather be the client working with multiple vendors or would you choose to service many clients? Reviewing all the points above should help you decide which is the best route for you.
Jamie Cain is an experienced digital marketer with both client-side and agency experience having spent over 8 years in the field; specializing in email, deliverability and CRM. Her email marketing and deliverability expertise has been featured by Return Path, here. Find more about Jamie on her Linkedin page.
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Great article! One other difference I've noticed in my time working on the agency-side is that agencies tend to have a lot of women working in them, although we are still a minority in executive leadership positions.
Thursday, May 17 11:36 AM EDT