Aug 11, 2015

Digital Marketing Agency or Brand? How to Choose a Job You’ll Love

by Digital Marketing Institute

When sizing up your next digital marketing role you might be thinking, ‘Should I work agency or client side?’ Both can provide wildly different working experiences. Of course, every business is different, but agency and client side usually provide a variety of distinct characteristics, challenges and benefits.

Below we look at the reasons you might want to work for an agency and why you might choose a brand. Take a peek at the list to help you find the best fit for your personality, aspirations and digital marketing career destination.

1. Where Will I Be Able to Be Most Creative?

Before you decide to work for a brand or an agency you’ll need to define what creativity means to you. That’s because both types of digital marketing roles offer creativity in different ways. Essentially, where you decide to work depends on the type of creativity you are searching for. Let’s take a look at what agencies and brands offer you in terms of creativity below:

Agency - An agency provides a working environment that allows you to get creative with a variety of brands in a fast thinking environment. In an agency you’re basically selling your ideas and your creative skills to these brands. You will get to take on new, exciting projects and concoct fresh creative ideas – one day you might be brainstorming a concept for a shoe company and the next day you might be running a campaign for a tax company. If you like working with large creative concepts and feed off creative variety this might be the digital marketing side for you.

Perfect for you if: Your creative skills thrive on new projects, variety and working with the big idea.

Brand - Working for a brand allows you to gain an in-depth understanding of your target audience in a way that agency work could never do. It means you get to think in more of a long term strategic way. You’re working for one brand and trying to achieve one mission, even if you’ve got a variety of KPIs to hit to help you get there. If you like having the ability to shape a brand’s messaging and like to maintain full creative control over the campaigns you create this could be the digital marketing side for you.

Perfect for you if: Your creative skills thrive on long term strategic thinking, audience understanding and brand growth.

2. Where Will I Learn the Most?

Again what you learn at an agency and brand can vary and can depend on the nature of the business you’re working for. However, you’ll often learn different skills at both agencies and brands. Let’s take a look at a few stand out skills you might pick up below:

What You’ll Learn at an Agency:

  • Client Management - you’ll gain interpersonal skills from working closely with clients to help them meet their expectations.
  • Timekeeping Skills - most agencies get paid by the hour so you’ll learn how to be accountable for your time and how to document your hours accordingly.
  • Problem Solving - at an agency you’ll be forced to think fast which means you will learn a variety of problem solving skills to help you come up with creative concepts.
  • Multi-tasking - you’ll learn how to juggle a variety of accounts while upholding a quality work standard.
  • Presentation Skills - you will often have to present your ideas to clients which means you will hone your verbal communication skills.

What You’ll Learn at a Brand:

  • Strategy - you’ll learn how to create a long term vision and digital marketing strategy for your brand.
  • Brand Positioning - you’ll develop the skills needed to grow a brand and position it in the best possible light.
  • Measurement & Iteration - working for a brand allows for more in depth and long term measurement of key metrics which helps you learn how to interpret data to make strategic business decisions.
  • Hitting KPIs - you’ll learn how to set, measure, hit and exceed long term KPIs that help the business grow and achieve its objectives.
  • Audience Analysis - working for a brand will allow you to conduct deeper and on-going audience analysis, including surveys, interviews and social media research.

3. Where Will I Make the Most Money?

While it shouldn’t be the driving force for choosing a job, the income you make will often play an important factor in your decision. Again salaries vary wildly depending on company type and the numbers of years the company has been in business, etc. If you choose to work for a start-up, for example, you will probably get paid significantly less than if you’re working in a large corporation (and you most likely won’t get any benefits either). However, below are the general salary situations you can expect from both brands and agencies:

Agency - Agencies usually have lower starting salaries than brands. In agencies you often will have to earn your stripes and get quite a bit of agency and client management experience before you begin earning the big bucks. However, because of the digital skills gap and huge demand for skilled digital marketing professionals, some agencies have begun to try to compete with brands for talent which means that they’ve upped their pay packets.

Perfect for you if: You want to learn lots and are willing to fight for a higher salary.

Brand - Brands usually pay significantly more than agencies. Of course, larger corporations will often pay more than start-ups and smaller businesses. However, even smaller businesses and start-ups have begun to battle for talent, offering more money and benefits and counter offers in the process. Because of the digital skills gap that exists it really is a digital marketer’s market – so if you choose to work for a brand make sure that you’re getting the best monetary deal you can.

Perfect for you if: You want to earn decent money straight away.

4. Where Can I Progress My Career?

Agency - The agency world is very fast moving and usually has quite a high turnover of staff. Because of this opportunities can prove endless and you can move up the ladder quite quickly. However, you might face stiff competition when dealing with talented people fighting for the same position as new spots are highly coveted.

Perfect for you if: If it’s quick career progression you’re after.

Brand - Working for a brand varies in terms of career progression. In a brand sometimes you might have to wait for your manager to step down as people can be slow to leave more steady, corporate jobs. In the brand side of business moving up sometimes means moving on and finding a new job in a new business. However, if you want to move up quickly you might want to ask your potential employer about their career progressions plan or work for a start-up where pay might not be brilliant but potential for progression and ownership of your role is epic.

Perfect for you if: You’re looking for a steady climb and are prepared to move job to progress.

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