The Dirty Truth About Agency Life

by Ivana Radojevic on September 3 2015

Have you ever wondered what it's like to work for a Marketing agency? It can be described as a combination of creative expression, project management and hectic madness.

Agency life is typically categorized into two areas—the work of the "suits" and the work of the "creatives." These two categories join forces to deliver on client expectations. More specifically, however, what the novice marketer must understand is that he/she is entering a tough business; a business that often praises tough people. 

While we don't mean to toot our own horn (ok, maybe a little bit), here at Social Lite, we're happy to work at a place where we're surrounded by some of the city's brightest, toughest and most creative individuals.

Even with the occasinal emotional breakdown.

Be prepared for long days

Perhaps even long nights and occasional weekends. The thing about working for a Marketing agency, and one that specializes in Digital Marketing in particular, is that you're always connected. This means that it's extremely easy for you to check your social media feeds regularly. The problem with working in Digital Marketing is that you find yourself checking not only your personal accounts, but your clients' accounts as well.

Marketing and Advertising are industries that are very much part of pop culture. To be good at your job, you have to immerse yourself in it.   

Deadlines are a regular part of agency life. Just know that everything that can go wrong, will go wrong. The more damage control you do now, the less likely it is that you'll end up like this guy when your project goes off track.


Rejection is real

Marketing is all about ideas. The challenge is to generate good ideas that your client will actually like, and not tear to pieces in your meetings along with what's left of your dignity. Better yet, it's not about generating just any ideas and throwing them at your client; it's about generating unique ideas, the sort of ideas that haven't been done and re-done and done some more by other agencies.

You and your client will not always see eye-to-eye, but don’t be discouraged when clients don’t like or understand something you present. When they stare into the depths of your soul with complete disappointment, remember, Marketing is as much about managing client expectations as it's about delivering results. 


There will be tears

When you screw up, tell the truth. Then fix it. In this industry, it's not a matter of if you'll screw up as much as it's a certainty that it will, in fact, happen.

Sometimes, the sheer volume of "stuff" you have to do will feel overwhelming and you'll curse the day you ever decided to work for an agency. Look at the problem you have to solve and get ahead of it, then consider less likely problems and get ahead of those too. Procrastination is the root of all evil in this industry. One glaring mistake might get you scolded in the short-term, but tiny mistakes add up over time and can snowball into a real disaster down the road. Hence said tears.

Whether it's your computer crashing right before a deadline, or your client tossing out weeks of hard work in a span of five minutes, we have these simple words of advice for you: don't ever let the client see you cry. 


You don't have to be a "creative" to be creative

The key is to feed your creative side. Yes, we all have one. Even those of us who are considered "suits" in the Marketing matrix. Take vacations that expand your mind (provided that you have enough vacation days, of course), read interesting and diverse books, magazines and blogs and while you're at it, pick up a new hobby. If nothing else, that failed pottery class might have made you realize that your craftsmanship skills are severely lacking, but at least you have some new content for your next blog post.

In almost every agency, variety trumps repetition! It might just take you a little longer to have that "aha" moment.


Confusion happens

Keep focused on one task at a time. Trying to do it all at once will either result in tears and burnout, or in the delivery of medioce work with little attention to detail.

From creative meetings to "we're not sure why we're here" meetings to "the client is mad" meetings, you'll attend them all and, sometimes, you'll be as confused as this owl when you first walk into a client meeting and feel like you just entered some sort of twilight zone.

Don't get discouraged. We've all been there.  


So, why exactly do we do it?

Because despite the busy days, countless rejections and occasional breakdowns, we get to come into work every day presented with the opportunity to create something new. We're continuously challenged to think outside the box, to push our clients' limits, to push our own limits and to provide solutions to challenges with no obvious answers. And we get to do all of this in an environment where we're surrounded by smart, interesting and curious colleagues, and clients who trust us to tell their stories.   
We think that's a pretty sweet deal. 
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All GIFs courtesy of This Advertising Life

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